While driving the car starts to spit and sputter and then shuts off

Tiny
TROYNEAT KING
  • MEMBER
  • 2004 CHRYSLER PACIFICA
  • 3.8L
  • 6 CYL
  • 4WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 198,000 MILES
I'll be driving down the road and the car starts to spit and sputter and shuts off. It has over a half a tank of gas. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Sunday, October 6th, 2019 AT 8:38 AM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
What does it take to get it started again? It's normal operation for the Check Engine light to turn on after the engine has coasted to a stop, but if it turns before that happens, there is at least one diagnostic fault code to indicate the circuit that needs to be diagnosed. It's important now to not disconnect the battery or let it run dead until those codes have been read and recorded, or that valuable information will be lost. The people at most auto parts stores will read those codes for you for free. Once you know the exact code number(s), you can go here:

https://www.2carpros.com/trouble_codes/obd2

to see the definitions, or I can interpret them for you.

Given the mileage, a fairly common but elusive problem is a plugged strainer inside the gas tank. The best way to identify this is to connect a fuel pressure gauge to the test port on the engine, clip the gauge under the right wiper arm so you can watch it as you drive, then you'll see the pressure gradually drop when the problem acts up. One of the biggest clues to this problem is it occurs when the largest volume of fuel is being pumped, which is during coasting down from highway speed. The engine will run better when accelerating.

This usually happens after driving at least 15 minutes. After sitting on the side of the road for five to ten minutes, the engine will typically start and run okay for a few more miles, then the problem occurs again. The fourth time this happened to me, it only occurred while pulling a huge tandem-axle enclosed trailer with my '88 Grand Caravan. When I saw the gauge start to drop, I found that by lifting on the accelerator pedal for a fraction of a second got the pressure to jump back up, then it took a good 20 seconds to act up again. I nursed it over 50 miles that way.
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Sunday, October 6th, 2019 AT 2:58 PM

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