Engine shut off and will not start

  • 3.8L
  • 6 CYL
  • 2WD
  • 160,000 MILES
I was driving to work and after 2 miles I took a right turn into my job and the car quit running. I tried starting it again and had to eventually get a tow truck. I did notice the car puttering a little bit after I would break at all.
Do you
have the same problem?
Thursday, February 27th, 2020 AT 9:30 AM

1 Reply


In most cases, you either lost fuel pressure or ignition spark. If the vehicle still will not start after it cools, I would first retrieve diagnostic trouble codes. Here is a link that shows how it is done. You don't need a scanner on this vehicle. All you need to get codes is a short jumper wire or even a paper clip.



If you find there are codes, let me know what they are before proceeding.


Next, here is a link covering the most common causes of a crank no start condition:



If nothing from above helps, we need to check for spark and fuel to the engine. It isn't hard. Here are two links that explain how it is done:




Based on what you described, it sounds like a fuel pump issue. If you are comfortable trying, see if it starts for a couple seconds using starting fluid. If it does, then we know it is a fuel related issue. If it doesn't even try, then it is most likely ignition related.

If you feel it could be the fuel pump, check fuses and the fuel pump relay before proceeding. If you look at pic 1, it shows where the relay is located. Here is a link that shows how to test a relay:


Here are a few links you may find helpful when testing.





If you determine it is the fuel pump, here is a link that shows in general how one is replaced:



Here are the directions for replacing the pump. You will first need to remove the fuel tank. I will provide directions for removal and replacement. The remaining pics correlate with the directions.


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1990 Buick Electra V6-231 3.8L VIN C SFI
Fuel Tank Assembly
Vehicle Powertrain Management Fuel Delivery and Air Induction Fuel Tank Service and Repair Procedures Fuel Tank Assembly
Fuel Tank Mounting

pic 2

Fuel Tank Insulators

pic 3

WARNING: To help avoid personal injury when a vehicle is on a hoist, provide additional support for the vehicle on the opposite end from which components are being removed. This will reduce the possibility of the vehicle falling off the hoist.

NOTE: The fuel tank is located under the rear seat of the vehicle.


1. Drain the fuel from the fuel tank, see MAINTENANCE PROCEDURES/FUEL TANK DRAINING.
2. Support the fuel tank and disconnect the two fuel tank retaining straps. Loosen the exhaust heat shield at the rear (5 screws) and lower exhaust at the rear hanger.
3. Lower the tank enough to disconnect the sending unit wire, hoses, and ground strap if equipped.
4. Remove the tank from the vehicle.
5. Remove the sending unit.


1. Using a new O-ring, replace the fuel sending unit.
2. Raise the fuel tank into position enough to connect the sending unit wire, hoses, and ground strap if equipped.
3. Install the fuel tank retaining straps and tighten the bolts.
4. Install lower exhaust at the hanger, and the exhaust heat shield.
5. Refill the tank with fuel and check for leaks.


1990 Buick Electra V6-231 3.8L VIN C SFI
Fuel Pump Replacement
Vehicle Powertrain Management Fuel Delivery and Air Induction Fuel Pump Service and Repair Procedures Fuel Pump Replacement
Fuel Pump/Fuel Gauge Sending Unit (typical)

pic 4

Roller Vane Fuel Pump - Exploded View

pic 5


1. Before servicing the fuel pump the fuel system pressure must be relieved, see MAINTENANCE PROCEDURES/FUEL SYSTEM PRESSURE RELIEF.
2. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
3. Raise the car on a hoist.
4. Remove the fuel tank, see FUEL TANK AND FUEL LEVEL SENDING UNIT.
5. Remove the fuel tank sending unit and pump assembly by turning the cam lock ring counterclockwise. Lift assembly from the fuel tank.
6. Pull the fuel pump up into the attaching hose while pulling outward away from the bottom support. Take care to prevent damage to the rubber insulator and strainer during removal. After the pump assembly is clear of the bottom support, pull the pump assembly out of the rubber connector for removal.

NOTE: Inspect the fuel pump attaching hose for any signs of deterioration. Also check the rubber sound insulator at the bottom of the pump. Replace damaged or deteriorated parts.


1. Push the fuel pump assembly into the attaching hose.
2. Position the fuel tank sending unit and pump assembly into the fuel tank. Use a new "O" ring seal.

NOTE: Care should be taken not to fold over or twist the strainer when installing the sending unit as this will restrict the flow of fuel. Also, verify that the strainer does not block the full travel of the float arm.

3. Install cam lock over the assembly and lock by turning clockwise.
4. Reinstall fuel tank.


Let me know if this helps or if you have other questions.

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Thursday, February 27th, 2020 AT 3:23 PM

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