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Volvo S60 engine cuts off while turning?

Hello fellow Car Talk friends,

I’ve got a 2003 Volvo S60 with close to 121,000 miles on it that I have fondly called Nik Nak. It has traveled with me from the Midwest to the East Coast, where I now reside.

Last winter, my little Nik Nak cut out on me as I was taking a sharp right onto my home street. At first I thought I hit an icy patch and my car had skidded, but then I realized the engine was off, but all the lights on my dashboard were on (including all the warning/alert lights). I put the car in park, turned my key into the off position, then tried to start it up. It immediately started. Other factors: There was snow and I had just recently exited the highway.

Everything seemed to be going pretty well until this winter (in Connecticut), when my car cut out on me again. Just like before, I assumed I had hit an icy patch as the car seemed sluggish and unresponsive (and it had just snowed). Again, it happened as I was taking a right turn, and it’s happened about three times since.

Today was the first time it happened as I was making a left turn. Luckily, I was the last car in the turning lane, and I managed to get my car more or less close to the shoulder and put my hazard lights on (as traffic was now approaching), and Nik Nak rebooted just as before.

I used to think the cold/snow had something to do with it, but it was 50 degrees today. Also, I’m not entirely sure, but I think the wheel may have been turned as far as it could go. I honestly can’t remember if that was the case the other times it cut out.

I plan on experimenting in a parking lot tomorrow to see if turning the wheel all the way is causing it.

Does anyone have any thoughts or know what might be causing it? (And besides not turning the steering wheel all the way, does anyone have any suggestions as to how this problem may be fixed?)

Thanks guys!!

Besides seeing whether it stalls when you just turn the wheel without actually driving, does it do it in both direction? Does it do it on a full tank or only when a tank is closer to empty?
I’ve heard of cars stalling when the tank has lost some of the baffles. They are supposed to keep the gas from sloshing around such that the pump can pick it up. It could be that the baffles are not doing their job. There could be other reasons as well, of course. Fuel pumps can exhibit that behavior as well when it doesn’t quite reach the bottom of the tank anymore because parts have fallen off. Loose wires could be the cause as well. The list goes on from there.

You could drive* it to an autozone/pepboys and see if there are any diagnostics codes stored. They’ll do it for free. Don’t let them fix it but report back with the codes.

(*substituting three left turns for making one right turn, of course… j/k)

With the engine idling, turn the steering wheel in each direction from lock-to-lock. If doing this causes the engine to stall, the problem might be with the power steering pressure switch.

The power steering pressure switch sends a signal to the computer when the pressure in the power steering system increases when turning the steering wheel. The computer then commands the Idle Air Contol valve to open slightly to prevent the engine from stalling from the load imposed on the engine from the power steering pump.

Tester

Hi guys! Thanks for the replies and suggestions.

I did a little more experimenting in a parking lot. Nothing happens when the car is in park with the engine idling and I turn the steering wheel completely to the right or left.

Furthermore, I tried to see if it would happen when the car was moving, but the engine didn’t cut out (which I suppose is a good thing).

Also, my tank is still at full.

I’m going on a small road trip this weekend, so I’ll try to squeeze in a trip to autozone before I leave.

I’d keep an eye on the tank level to see if there’s some sort of correlation. Have a safe trip.

I’ll keep an eye on it. I briefly considered it could be due to hills in the area (there was a big one in Milwaukee, and there are several where I live now), except the time I was turning left and it cut it had been about a mile since I ascended a hill.

Thanks!

You don’t want to stall out on any hill on the Merritt parkway because you can’t pull over so be careful.
(I live in SW CT).