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Thread: Why would my car just randomly shut off?

  1. #1
    Ky Mazda Chic tiff6's Avatar

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    Exclamation Why would my car just randomly shut off?

    Recently, sometimes while I'm driving down the road the engine just shuts itself off. There is no warning, no sputter, no over-heating. I'll Just be driving, like normal not zoom zoom, and suddenly I feel I have no power steering and notice my car is not running. Turn the key and it starts right back up. The temp guage reads normal, so I assume this can not be related to the cooling system. It's not setting off any CEL codes.

    First time it happened was about 6 weeks ago, 2nd time was about 2 weeks ago, and in the past few days it seems to be becoming more frequent. 3rd time it occurred was this past Thursday, then it happened twice today. I have asked a few of my mechanic friends about it, one of them thinks it could be related to the crank sensor , even though there is no CEL code to give us any clue.

    He looked at the crank sensor and said it was not excessively dirty, as he suspected, but he did notice the adjustment is turned all the way in one direction. He is an import mechanic, and said that is not normal, from his experience.

    A new crank sensor is cheap and it wouldn't be difficult to replace, but we are not certain this would fix whatever is causing my car to just randomly shut off.

    Does anybody have any clue what could be the issue here? Please.
    Last edited by tiff6; 10-30-2011 at 08:12 PM.
    2004 Mazda6i (My daily)
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  2. #2
    spring mode bazooka joe's Avatar
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    do you get any lights flashing, dash lights blinking just before the loss of power?

  3. #3
    Last of The Mo'Ricans Shiftee's Avatar

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    This actually happened to me when I had my accord years ago, turned out to be my ignition switch contacts were just worn down, at 200k plus miles I wouldn't be surprised if this was a possible culprit.

  4. #4
    Ky Mazda Chic tiff6's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by bazooka joe View Post
    do you get any lights flashing, dash lights blinking just before the loss of power?
    Honestly I'm not certain, but the first time it happened the oil light flashed and the battery light came on. I started to worry that perhaps the oil pump may be going bad.

    At the time I was due for an oil change and had an appointment for the dealer to do it the next day. I didn't mention it to the folks at the dealer when I took it in because I had already taken it to Dr Zoom, immediately when it happened that same day. They looked at it and tried to scan for CEL codes, but nothing showed up other than the usual lean idle because of my intake. One of my friend's at Dr Zoom said well considering the mileage, maybe it was just a random computer fluke. Nothing to worry about.
    Last edited by tiff6; 10-30-2011 at 10:50 PM.
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  5. #5
    Ky Mazda Chic tiff6's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shiftee View Post
    This actually happened to me when I had my accord years ago, turned out to be my ignition switch contacts were just worn down, at 200k plus miles I wouldn't be surprised if this was a possible culprit.
    That is probably a good place to check next. Thank you Rey
    Yes I agree. LOL I understand and accept that with as many miles as my car has, there are probably going to be many parts that need to be replaced. Like so many other things, use and time takes it's toll and things wear out. Kind of like how age affects the human body, I think might be a suitable comparison. Not that any of the parts may be defective, but just old. LOL
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    U8RICE MSP-2003.5's Avatar

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    I think the dash lights coming on is bc your engine is off w/the keys in the on position. I assume that you are in neutral when this happens. Do you know if it happens when you have a sudden rpm drop (such as accelerating and then suddenly having to brake and putting car in neutral). If so could be a vacuum leak.

  7. #7
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    We've had something similar happen with the Roush. If we have the cruise control on, and we've tripped it out for traffic and such, I have to be careful when I engage it back into service to be sure to have the speed back near where it was set for. If it's a few miles below that, the engine will hiccup and shut down. I can restart it, on the fly, and have all well, again. I took it to the dealer, with codes in hand, and couldn't resolve the problem. Now, I make sure the car is up to the cruise speed before I engage it. I'd say it's a computer fluke, as well. It's hard to fix what isn't broken; so, I can't complain about the dealer. The mechanic did try to get it to fail and couldn't.

    Good luck with your search. It almost has to quit and no restarted before the problem can be found. In our case, after a few restarts, the codes cleared themselves.
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  8. #8
    spring mode bazooka joe's Avatar
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    first thing and an easy thing to check out is your ground wire and battery connections...i wouldn't think you have much corrosion in ky, but it's an easy thing to check first
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  9. #9
    Ky Mazda Chic tiff6's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by MSP-2003.5 View Post
    I think the dash lights coming on is bc your engine is off w/the keys in the on position. I assume that you are in neutral when this happens. Do you know if it happens when you have a sudden rpm drop (such as accelerating and then suddenly having to brake and putting car in neutral). If so could be a vacuum leak.
    I have noticed I am actually decelerating when it happens and the car is in gear. I agree with you regarding the dash lights, but it seems all of the lights would be on if that was the case. And the first time it occurred the oil light was flashing, not just on. I'm not sure, but I am thinking it could be a computer related issue.

    Last night, after I posted this thread, Jeff S. (import mechanic) called me with some information. He had been researching my car and this issue online and he found an article or some information that said many Mazda vehicles had experienced the same issue. In 2008 Mazda provided an ECU update for the affected vehicles and this is supposed to resolve the problem. So I was going to call the dealer this morning to ask them about it. I remember they had updated the ECU on my car a few years ago, but I'm not sure when this was. It may be listed on one of my service receipts in the file I keep for my car, but I didn't have time last nite to look through them all.

    Well, it happened twice this morning just after I left to go to work. So right now I am sitting at Neil Huffman, as I decided that I wanted to go ahead and have them check it out. I'll let you guys know what I find out. Fingers crossed!!
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    Certified Car Nut. greatdane68's Avatar
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    Keep us posted Tiff! And good luck with it.

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  11. #11
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    My 86 crx did this and it was the ignition switch. I would have to wiggle the key and it would start back up. No need to turn the key cause it was a stick. lol. It got progressively worse till it started acting up when I would try and start the car.
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    Registered Member ScutMonkey's Avatar

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    What news?
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  13. #13
    Registered Member McFly77's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by bazooka joe View Post
    first thing and an easy thing to check out is your ground wire and battery connections...i wouldn't think you have much corrosion in ky, but it's an easy thing to check first
    I agree with bazooka check your terminals, I had this happen to me, and it turned out to be loose terminal. It also happens to sandy's SUV whenever she hit a really big puddle of water becuse of the location of the alternator.


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  14. #14
    Ky Mazda Chic tiff6's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by caidoz View Post
    My 86 crx did this and it was the ignition switch. I would have to wiggle the key and it would start back up. No need to turn the key cause it was a stick. lol.
    Mine is also a manual, not an automatic
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  15. #15
    Ky Mazda Chic tiff6's Avatar

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    Here is the breakdown of the visit to the dealer this morning.
    Ok, so Steve, which is one of the top 3 Mazda mechanics in the country, did the diagnosis on Miss6 this morning. Today there were 2 CEL codes, the usual Lean Idle and the other was something related to the Oil Pressure Sensor.

    Steve thought the latter CEL was caused by the Lucas Oil Treatment I had them add when they changed the oil last week. He said when he had started pouring it into my car he noticed it was thick as molasses and had second thoughts about using it. It is too thick for engines made today, but ok for vehicles like 20 years old. He thinks this was causing the increased oil pressure. So we decided to change the oil again and use a different additive that is safe and recommended for today's engines. Issue #1 of 2 Solved

    The CEL has been on for the past 2 years, since we installed the K&N air intake. It has always read "lean idle". Steve checked for a vacuum leak, but found none. He cleaned the MAF and checked for codes again. On the diagnostic computer it stated that the fuel rating was much more than it should be. So something was telling the ECU to add too much fuel.

    There is something like a vacuum line we had connected to the tip of the air filter. I don't remember exactly what he said this small hose or line was called, but without the stock air box, this line no longer has a purpose. Since we had it feeding into the tip of the air filter, the sensor for this line was giving the ECU false information, thus explaining the increased fuel. The solution was to plug this line and the hole where we had it connected on the filter with a small screw.

    He then cleared all the codes and started my car. Steve ran another diagnostic scan and kept my car running for about 5 minutes to be sure nothing else caused a code to appear and to re-check all of the system functions and ratings. He said everything looked good, so he took it out for a drive around the block to see if the CEL reappeared, and it didn't.

    When I left the dealer this morning, my car felt like it was running better than before. So hopefully now the CEL will stay off and this has solved the issue that was causing the sudden stalls. Fingers Crossed!!!
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