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Sunfire is stalling at idle: 1998 Sunfire 2.4L Twin Cam Engine/Automatic Transmission

06-10-2009, 11:42 AM
I have a '98 Sunfire that has ran perfect until the last 6 months. It started running rough, and then began stalling when I would sit idle at a stop light or when stuck in traffic. I took it in to a local mechanic, thinking he would suggest a full tune-up, however he said there was nothing he could do, because it looked as though it was the PCM. So, I carried it to the dealership, ( and they told me they wanted to replace the box that the spark plugs sit, do a full tune-up and fuel injection cleaning. They also did throtle flush. Since this was done, it has actually runs worse. It is stalling more frequently, and it actually stalled while I was exiting an off ramp from the highway. I was in motion going about 25 mph when it died. Does this sound like the PCM? I have limited funds and need a reliable vehicle. I just want to make sure that I'm not sinking more money into a potential money pit.

Thanks for your help!

06-10-2009, 02:08 PM
Taking it to the dealer is a big no-no in my book. I used to work for one :uhoh:

Take it back and demand that it's fixed the correct way. Make a scene. You paid a lot of money and it's running worse. If they replaced your head incorrectly you could be leaking into the cylinders which would lead to a rough start, a VERY rough ride, dying, and severe engine damage down the road.

What was it doing originally before it stalled? Did it run rough and then die or just suddenly die? I would have just used some fuel injector or carb cleaner first ($4 at any gas station) and then waited to see a result.

It could be the computer but if that was the case the dealership off all people should have diagnosed it correctly and that gives you leverage in arguing with them.

Post back up what happens.

06-10-2009, 06:11 PM
Hey Rex- Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my post!

The very first thing that I did was try the fuel injector cleaner. Unfortunatly, it didn't seem to help at all. Prior to taking the car to the dealership, my car was basically doing the same thing; running rough and then stalling, but just not as frequently. Now, it seems to stall almost every time I'm at a complete stop or idle. Yesterday it stalled when I was coasting down a hill!

I did take the car back to the dealership a week after the work was done, they looked it over and said that everything looked okay. They recommended that I replace some pig-tail wire that goes to my cooling fan, and thought that could be why it is stalling.

The following day I drove the car 6 hours to visit my family, stopped 30 minutes from my folks place for gas and it wouldn't start. My father met me up at the gas station to find that the knuckle heads at the dealership either did not tighten the bolt, or never put the bolt back on the starter cable, so it slipped off the stud and wasn't connecting.

So, I vowed never to go back into that shop. They obviously don't know what they're doing. Thankfully my dad has some mechanical knowledge and was able to mend that problem so that I could finish my journey!

I would love to take my car back to the mom and pop shop that I initially took it to, however he said that only a dealership can replace the PCM and he was certain that was the problem. That is what sent me to the dealership in the first place.

I guess I just was fishing for ideas. Everything that I've read makes it seem as though the PCM going is pretty rare and that it is more likely some other factor. I appreciate any suggestions. I'm working on a very tight budget (as I'm sure most of us are), and I need this car to last me at least another year.

Thanks again!

06-11-2009, 06:18 AM
My next suggestion is that they may have not put the new head on correctly. I had a Mazda run rough and die constantly when coolant was leaking into one of the cylinders. It also sounds like a possible over-heating issue if they're blaming the fan.

1- Plug the sparkplugs one-by-one and look into the cylinder with a flashlight. If you see any kind of reflection there's water in there. The head gasket could be leaking. Is the exhaust smoking even a little?

2- How's the car's temperature? Is it nominal (should be a gauge on the dash). Make sure the fan's kicking on and cooling the engine. Also make sure they've put enough coolant back into the engine after replacing the head (they had to drain it then).

That's all I've got from my experience. Maybe someone else can hope on here and give 2 cents as well.

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