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Talk about 'intermittent' (94 Volvo stalls)

Talk about “intermittent” …

About every 6 weeks, maybe it’s 7 on average, my 94 Volvo stalls. It can happen in a parking lot at idle. It can happen on a sunny afternoon cruise on a San Diego freeway. It just stops. And just to prove it is in control, it won’t re-start until maybe the 3rd try at cranking. When I say ‘stall’, I mean stop cold. It doesn’t sputter for a second. Just stops, like you turned off the ignition switch. The warning lights come on and the engine stops. Again, after about 3 rounds of normal cranking, it re-starts and runs like nothing happened.

My neighborhood mechanic (of many years, who by the way just bought the building he’s in - he was renting) has replaced both fuel pumps, one at a time, and the idle controller. Since it only stalls every 7 weeks, this process has been stretched out over a period of several months.

Since our daughter was driving this car to and from her College classes at San Diego State University, I have been relegated to driving it, in the interest of her safety. (She’s driving my 2006 Lucerne. It’s a lease, and the extra miles are killing me.

Got any ideas?

I had a '98 Volvo. Very expensive to repair and lot’s of repairs required. You have already spent a bunch on the fuel pumps, been there done that. My Volvo also had intermittent stalling. Eventually the Mass Air Flow sensor failed completely and that solved the mystery.

You may have a bad Mass Flow Sensor. Are there any “codes” stored in the car’s computer? It not, it could be just about anything.

From your post you may be onto something “like you turned off the ignition switch”. The switch is suspect. Some people put everything on the key ring; flashlight, tools, keys for seven cars and every door in the factory. A heavy key ring will eventually damage the ignition switch. When you restart the car a couple of times in one of the attempts you may reestablish contact and off you go. Have your mechanic check out the switch. In the meantime take the ignition key off the key ring and just put the key all by itself into the ignition and drive normally. If the car doesn’t stall for a month or two you may have your answer.

Consider taking your daughter to a safe place (large parking lot) and have her drive the car and then switch the ignition key to off and quickly back to on position. This will kill the motor and she can learn that you can still steer the car and brake it to get off the road safely. Not a bad skill for any driver to practice. Get a AAA or other roadside program and have her keep driving the car.

Someday it will stall and not restart and then you can finally get the problem identified and fixed. Intermittent problems are the worst until they finally are no longer intermittent. You can spend a lot more money and replace a lot more parts and still not solve the real problem.

Uncle Turbo -
Thanks I’ll give the key idea a try. Actually our daughter is pretty good at managing the situation. She told me how she used the emergency break when the brakes finally lost their power. It’s just troubling to think of her in a precarious situation with the car, although it happens to seldom. The last time it happen to me I was on the freeway and had pull over to the shoulder while I cranked it. I had just come to a complete stop when it fired up. Even though I was running late for owrk, I was hoping it wouldn’t start.

Thanks again,