my 98 grand am stalls, please help

irishgirl88June 23, 2006

Hi, I have a 1998 Grand Am with a quad 4 engine...I hope I spelled that right. Anyway, about a month or so ago the muffler got really loud. I went to Monroe and they quoted me a price of $600.00 to fix saying that the pipes on that car could not be welded, that they would just melt and that the new piece would include the cat. converter.

I left and went to another mechanic who welded it for 80 bucks! After a week a light came on my car saying that the antifreeze was low. I added some and after a few days the light went out.

Okay, so last week I'm driving along and I hit the gas as I'm making a turn and my car feels like it wants to stall but doesn't. It gradually got worse and I started to wonder if it was the cad. converter (have no idea how to spell catollitic???)

My main mechanic found nothing wrong with the car but said that the cat. converter was hot so it must be plugged and he sent me to the guy who welded my muffler to have it changed. They changed it but did not believe that that was the problem. That cost $110.00. It didn't help.

The other day the check engine light came on and I went to Auto Zone who told me it was the O2 sensor just before the convertor.

My mechanic changed that, changed the plugs and fixed my brakes and rotors for a grand total of $289.00 and my car is still wanting to stall or stalling. It stalls or tries to at lights, in drive-through's and now it stalls if I'm going along at a pretty good speed and stop.

I told my main mechanic it was still bad and he said that he would clean the throttle body for me that that could be it.

The mechanic who changed the converter hooked a machine up to my car drove it around with that thing hooked up to it. He said that all of the sensors are working and things are firing or whatever and he seems to think that the tune-up should have been taken further. He suggests that the boots and coils and that plastic thing that holds it all should be changed.

I'm running out of money.

What is your opinion?

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worm

ex wife had same problem with 96 grand am. turned out to be some type of connection that had to do with the transmission and some wires that had frayed and were bare. gm dealer never did find it. an independent found it. gm dealer screwed me. replaced ecu, fuel pump, and all sorts of stuff. it was a $40 part.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2006 at 8:35AM
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jemdandy

Check the cam position sensor, the one that generates the timing signal for the ignition. These have been known to become erratic when hot, then work again when its temperature cools a bit.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2006 at 7:46PM
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john_g

irish girl. You wrote

"My main mechanic found nothing wrong with the car but said that the cat. converter was hot so it must be plugged and he sent me to the guy who welded my muffler to have it changed. They changed it but did not believe that that was the problem. That cost $110.00. It didn't help"

First of all, a hot catalytic convertor is one that is working. If it's glowing RED HOT, then it's overworking because there is a problem in the engine allowing too much air, and unburned fuel into the exhaust.

On top of that, find one good shop and tech and stick with him/her. Stop ping-ponging around. Your only compounding your own misery.

You wrote" The other day the check engine light came on and I went to Auto Zone who told me it was the O2 sensor just before the convertor."

Looks like you fell for the "free diagnosis" and you got what you paid for, an O2 sensor that cannot be proven you actually needed now.

You wrote. "My mechanic changed that, changed the plugs and fixed my brakes and rotors for a grand total of $289.00 and my car is still wanting to stall or stalling."

Don't lump in your brake work as part of the total you have spent to fix the stalling symptom. They have nothing to do with each other. Treat them as if the brakes were replaced on a different car.

You wrote, and now we are concentrating on the stalling. " It stalls or tries to at lights, in drive-through's and now it stalls if I'm going along at a pretty good speed and stop. I told my main mechanic it was still bad and he said that he would clean the throttle body for me that that could be it."

That is a plausible answer to the stalling, a good tech can prove if this service is required, and can perform it easily. It's also possible the symptom can be caused by something else affecting the air entering the engine at low RPM's, and the computers response to correct this is exactly the same as a dirty throttle body, and that is for the computer to command the IAC to open wider than normal.

This would be a "cut a tree down to see the forest step" in some cases. Sort of once you find something that can cause a particular problem, you stop looking until you prove the problem still exists.

You wrote" The mechanic who changed the converter hooked a machine up to my car drove it around with that thing hooked up to it. He said that all of the sensors are working and things are firing or whatever and he seems to think that the tune-up should have been taken further. He suggests that the boots and coils and that plastic thing that holds it all should be changed."

Some more specific information would be invaluable here. I can guess what I think he is feeling in the car, and that is still a missfire. The Quad 4's are prone to having trouble with the coil cover and spark plug boots. If there is a problem there, the plugs should be changed again!

The reason the plugs need changed again is the boots could be carbon tracked, and allowing the spark to leak right down along the outside of the spark plug, where the boot contacts it. This causes the new spark plug to also carbon track, and it will in turn result in a missfire, and damage the new boot starting the cycle all over again.

"I'm running out of money. What is your opinion?"

One shop, one tech for everything. Stop ping-ponging. Find someone that can not only diagnose and repair this, but will communicate exactly what they are going to do and why. The O2 sensor replacement is a clue IMO, to an air/fuel ratio issue. This can cause excessive spark demand under certian conditions, and contribute to the coil cover/ spark plug boot problem.

There is no more expensive way to attempt to fix one of today's cars than to pull a code and throw a part at it. That's the limit of the ability of a parts store employee when it comes to diagnosing a check engine light. Just because you pull a lean exhaust "O2 sensor" code from the computer, that does not condem the O2 sensor. If you had showed up here with an O2 sensor in your hand telling me Auto Zone had diagnosed it, I would have sent you away. I definately would not have just installed it, because that is not enough proof to me that you really need it.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 8:51AM
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john999

Yep, the leads and coil(s) are a logical place to look next.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 5:31AM
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