Forum: Advice / Cars & Driving

My car keeps dying on me and it's not electrical..any ideas?
By Lovesongmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:11 AM

Yes, the best thing to do is to take my car into my garage (which my family has been going to for almost 20 years now) and get them to look it over, but at the moment, I don't really even have the money for that, so I'm turning online to get some advice and ideas if anybody's had something similar happen.

To give some background (may or may not be relevant), Friday night I ran over a dead deer on the highway. It was a big one too, and in a part of the highway where it was near impossible to see until I was right on top of it. Not much I could do except take my foot off the gas and brace for the inevitable thunk-thunk as it scraped the bottom of my car (managed to bend the tow hook pretty good, but aside from that and some paint chips and small cracks in my rear bumper, there doesn't seem to be visible damage).

Last night I was out for a drive, stopped at a red light in my car, when it just died without warning. I know it's not electrical because my lights didn't so much as flicker, the radio wasn't interrupted, etc. I put the car in park, turned the key to the off position, then started her again and she started right up as if nothing unusual had just happened.

Tonight I was out for a drive, coming in from the highway doing about 100km/hr, when all of a sudden my car died again for a couple seconds. The speedometer dropped to below twenty and the car felt like it had kicked into neutral- thinking I had accidentally bumped the shifter I took a quick scan of both the shifter and the dash and sure enough, both still said I was in D4, which is where I always drive. After maybe 2 seconds, the speedometer shot back up to just under 100 and the car kicked back into normal working order as if nothing had happened.

Less than 20 minutes later, I'd gotten into town, and had taken my foot off the gas to move into the left turning lane, and again the speedometer dropped below twenty and it felt like it had kicked into neutral, and this time the SRS light flickered, stayed on for a couple seconds, then flickered and went off just as my speedometer shot back up to my actual speed and my car went back to driving normally.


I'm thinking maybe I shook something loose when I hit the deer? Any mechanics, or children/family members/friends of mechanics, or just plain car buffs out there that have any idea what could be happening to my 93 Civic?

7 Replies to My car keeps dying on me and it's not electrical..any ideas?

re: My car keeps dying on me and it's not electrical..any ideas?
By SunshinePointemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:03 AM
Sounds like a loose connection, or perhaps a battery issue. How old is the battery?

I know you don't have the money for it to get looked at but it sounds like it could be the start of a more serious problem. I worry about you driving around with a car that could die on you in the middle of nowhere, or even worse in the middle of a very heavy traffic area. Please get it looked at and fixed asap for your own safety :(
re: My car keeps dying on me and it's not electrical..any ideas?
By KionaTeslin
On Tue Jun 02, 2009 06:25 PM
Edited by KionaTeslin (108414) on 2009-06-02 18:26:12
I agree with you, it doesn't sound electrical... My car was doing something similar and it turned out to be the fuel pump relay, the relay would conk out causing the car to not get any gas, and sometimes it would catch again, and sometimes I had to restart the car. It was an easy fix in my old Volvo, but I don't know anything about the fuel system in your car... Honestly, unless you have a friend who really knows what they're doing and can look it over, you will probably have to go in. I don't know how much it costs to have a fuel & electrical system tested, but I'd recommend it.

The other thing that it *might be* (depending on how your car is wired) is the speedometer. The part that gauges your speed is on the back axle and could have been knocked loose by the deer. One of the wires on mine is loose and sometimes the speedometer goes out, it doesn't cause any other problems for me, but maybe your car has a safety catch or something that causes the car to shut off if the speedometer is broken? I'm reaching here (lol), but it might be worth looking at. You'll need the manual for your car to locate the speedometer, but after you find it just look it over for loose wires and stuff. It's not hard to fix if you or a friend knows anything about wiring (mines still broken 'cause I'm lazy...), I may be waaaaay off base, but its a thought.

Beyond that, try googling it?
re: My car keeps dying on me and it's not electrical..any ideas?
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Jun 02, 2009 08:46 PM
I had a sort of similar problem - turned out to be a short in the wiring harness. Took bloody well forever for the mechanics to figure out too. And just because it was karmically amusing to someone, I could never restart it. It died, I'd better hope someone was with me or that soeone could come get me, because I was in trouble otherwise.
re: My car keeps dying on me and it's not electrical..any ideas? (karma: 1)
By dangslowmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Jun 03, 2009 09:08 AM
It sounds like both times the car died when you were slowing down or stopping? I think maybe a vacuum line got popped off during the impact. Get under that ride and look for a loose rubber line about 6mm in diameter. There wont be any leaks because a vacuum line only carries air, but a severed line would cause problems like you describe. Another thing that would do it is a bad valve body on the transmission. If the deer hit it underneath and broke it, your car would stay in gear a bit too long and stall out. It's like if you were driving a stick shift car and forgot to push in the clutch when you came to a stop. It wouls just stall out.
re: My car keeps dying on me and it's not electrical..any ideas?
By Lovesongmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Jun 03, 2009 10:40 AM
Thanks for all the advice guys :)

Unfortunately it's now in the hands of the garage- I had some errands to run last night and my car died completely while I was driving. I managed to coast into a parking lot before the car came to a complete stop (not having power steering working makes me appreciate it that much more, I tell you!). And now she won't work at all. She'll turn over, but will only run for about half a second before dying. :(

CAA only gives one free tow per breakdown, so I had it towed to my garage, I'll be going in shortly to give them the key and at least find out what the problem is until I can get the money to fix it. If it turns out to be a costly repair, I'm hoping it's from the deer, so that I can claim it and only have to pay my deductible.
re: My car keeps dying on me and it's not electrical..any ideas?
By Chaconnemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Jun 03, 2009 03:18 PM
Tell the garage to save any evidence of deer hair near the original or causitive damage area. That is you club with the insurance company. Contact with a deer while moving is considered collision. My son in law hit a deer a year ago and gave the insurance adjustor the deer fur and blood samples to back up his claim. They paid.

Jon
re: My car keeps dying on me and it's not electrical..any ideas?
By Lovesongmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Jun 03, 2009 03:49 PM
Jon- I haven't even washed the blood off my car yet, I figured in case any damage happened that I didn't immediately see, I wanted to keep as much evidence as possible. I think it's too late to save the small intestine I peeled off the underside of my car- not sure when the last garbage day was, but I think it's already been taken since.

And I called the RCMP right after I ran over the deer, so that they could move it off the road, and explained to the lady on the phone how I had run over it, and they took all my information down, so that will all be on file.

The only downside is that I always go with the $500 deductible, being a broke student and wanting cheaper insurance, and with my insurance, the deductible is only waived in wildlife collisions if it's 100, 200, or 300$ deductible, so if it's a major repair, I'll still need to pay $500 for it :(

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