Hi guys. Sounds like a serpentine belt problem which will cause a loss of power steering and a run down battery. To clear up some obvious misconceptions, there is no such thing as a "lock mode". That would be extremely dangerous and often fatal if that happened while driving. Way too many people don't realize that a loss of power steering assist is not a loss of steering ability. You just have to tug harder on the steering wheel.
When the engine stalls there is enough vacuum stored in the power brake booster for two to three power-assisted stops. That's to allow you to stop the car safely. After that you have to press much harder on the pedal to stop the car, and you won't have the normal precise control you're used to. The brake pedal had better never lock up or you can be sure there would be lawsuits. You can prove these things to yourself and practice bringing the car to a stop in an emergency by driving in a deserted parking lot, turning the ignition switch off, then observing how much harder you have to work to steer and stop the car.
You have an engine running problem and didn't bother to list the engine size. That's rather relevant. My guess is you have the 3.3L. The water pump on that one is driven by the serpentine belt, so it would stand to reason a broken or slipping belt would lead to overheating, loss of power steering, and if you keep on driving it like that, a run down battery. The 3.5L water pump is run by the timing belt. Most of the time problems there result in the engine stalling or running very poorly long before any overheating problem would show up.
A discharged battery can easily be strong enough to run lights and the radio but not have enough voltage to engage the starter solenoid, so I don't think there's a starter circuit problem given the additional symptom of the engine stalling.
The camshaft position sensor can cause a stalling and no-start problem but there's no reason to suspect it is defective unless there is a related diagnostic fault code stored in the Engine Computer. You'll notice rivermikerat's very first comment. Those sensors often fail intermittently by becoming heat-sensitive, and engine overheating COULD potentially aggravate that or cause it to occur, but that sensor has absolutely nothing to do with the starting system. Given the multiple symptoms, at least check the serpentine belt first since it is the only thing they all have in common. If it is intact, tight, not packed with snow, and not slipping, THEN pursue the overheating, stalling, and no-crank symptoms as three unrelated problems that all occurred at the same time.
If you have the 3.5L engine, worn or broken timing belt components could lead to a slipping water pump and gradual overheating, and if the belt eventually breaks, the engine will stall, but it would still crank just fine. Power steering would be lost when the engine quit running, but that wouldn't be even close to enough time for the battery to run down.
Also note that if you continue driving when the serpentine belt is broken or fell off, it is real common for power steering fluid to be pushed out of the reservoir causing a big mess. That happens about half of the time, on any car brand, and is dependent on how far you turn the steering wheel and how many times you turn it while the power steering pump isn't running. If you do see that mess, and likely a puddle on the ground, you can be sure you have a belt problem. Once fixed, you'll need to add power steering fluid, and you can expect it to buzz loudly for a while until the air works its way out.
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Thursday, January 12th, 2012 AT 5:21 AM