Van shuts off while driving

  • 3.8L
  • 6 CYL
  • FWD
  • 220,000 MILES
We drive this van anywhere from forty five miles to sixty miles and it will shut off. I have to let it sit for a few minutes, then I will get me another ten miles (if I am lucky) then it shuts off again. We have already replaced the ECM, what else could it be? I am having to use my fifteen passenger van as a daily driver right now.
Do you
have the same problem?
Friday, June 23rd, 2017 AT 3:14 PM

1 Reply

You have not included any test results or information to start the diagnosis, but one dandy observation is the engine will restart after only a few minutes. A real common cause of this type of stalling on any brand of vehicle is a crankshaft position sensor or camshaft position sensor that is failing by becoming heat-sensitive, but your symptoms do not really match this problem. With those sensors, they typically work okay as long as you keep driving and natural air flow keeps them cool. The problem occurs when a hot engine is stopped for a short period of time, as in when stopping for gas, then the heat migrates up to the sensors and causes one to fail. The other clue is it almost always has to cool down for at least an hour before it works again and the engine will restart.

Your observation of being able to restart the engine after only a few minutes points to a very elusive cause. That is a collapsing pick-up screen inside the gas tank. That blocks fuel flow to the pump. An additional clue to look for is the stalling usually occurs when the largest volume of fuel is being pumped, which is during coasting. The engine will usually run fine at higher speeds and when accelerating. I had this happen to me four times with three vehicles. With one of them, it took me four hours to get through Minneapolis with road construction on all three bypasses, then, once out of the city, my van ran fine the next three hours all the way home, until I started coasting, then it stalled again and I had to wait a few minutes.

You can also identify this cause by connecting a fuel pressure gauge and clipping it under a wiper arm so you can watch it while driving. You'll see pressure drop a little when coasting, but if the screen is plugged or collapsing, pressure will drop abnormally-low. In my case, forty five pounds was normal during coasting, but with the plugged screen, it dropped to twenty pounds when coasting, and stalling and surging showed up at fifteen pounds.

The screen costs around $12.00, but the fuel pump assembly has to be removed from the tank to replace it.
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Friday, June 23rd, 2017 AT 3:41 PM

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