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Pontiac Sunfire Starting and Stalling Problems

jeremy2jeremy2 Member Posts: 1
edited January 2014 in Pontiac
I have a 1998 Pontiac Sunfire with a rough idle. I have replaced the spark plugs, the plug wires and the coil are good. There are no fault codes and I still have a rough idle. If you may have any idea to what the problem may be please email me.


  • rob32rob32 Member Posts: 1
    I am having the same problem with a 98 sunfire GT. Did you figure out the problem
  • cindy10cindy10 Member Posts: 3
    I have the same problem with my '95. I tried fuel injector cleaner and it's helped a little but it's still rough. Anyone else have a suggestion?
  • euphorbiaeuphorbia Member Posts: 14
    I have a 96 Sunfire 2.4 (4 speed automatic) with 140,000 miles on it. It has been an awesome car since new. Recently it has been stalling when I brake from high speed and make a right turn. I notice that the tach falls below 500 rpm at those times and I can hear a clicking sound coming from the engine compartment (sounds like it is coming from the firewall just right of center). Does anybody have any experience with what might be the cause? I have replaced the throttle position sensor with no change in condition.

  • ClairesClaires Member Posts: 1,222
    Hi, euphorbia,

    You might also want to post your question in the Idle or Stalling Problems: All Vehicles to see if the folks there have any input.


    Need help getting around? claires@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Tell everyone about your buying experience: Write a Dealer Review

  • euphorbiaeuphorbia Member Posts: 14
    This is an update of message 61. I have a 96 Sunfire 2.4 (4 speed automatic) with 140,000 miles on it. Recently it has been stalling when I brake from high speed. I notice that the tach falls below 500 rpm at those times and I can hear a clicking sound coming from the engine compartment from inside the car. I have replaced the throttle position sensor and tested and cleaned the Idle Air Control (IAC) valve and the condition didn't change. I have also checked for vacuum leaks and found none. The OBD II code checker indicates no service codes. Does anybody have any experience with what might be the cause?

  • euphorbiaeuphorbia Member Posts: 14
    Thanks for the "heads up". I learned that a vacuum leak could cause my problem. I checked and didn't find that to be the case on my car. I posted the issue on the Idle or Stalling Problems page.
  • ClairesClaires Member Posts: 1,222
    Hi, Euphorbia,

    You might also want to ask your question in the Idle or Stalling Problems: All Vehicles discussion.


    Need help getting around? claires@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Tell everyone about your buying experience: Write a Dealer Review

  • jaguarlady1jaguarlady1 Member Posts: 1
    My sunfire has been giving me problems over the last few months. It's a 5 speed and when I have the air con running I find that the RPM's are jumping up and down when I am in a stopped position. Sometimes they jump and then fall so low that the car stalls. Also when I start up from a stopped position I find that the car is lagging and not getting gas. This also happens when I make a right or left hand turn. I have had it looked at by two GM Dealers and they have found nothing wrong with it. The fuel filter was changed and diagnostics were run twice. Any suggestions??
  • union_jackunion_jack Member Posts: 1
    Hi All,

    I've recently bought a 1998 Sunfire SE with 95k on the clock. She was fine until about a week ago, now whenever I start the engine it fails to start sometimes, it fires but almost seems like it's stalling straight away. There's also a very odd niuse coming from the steering column area, almost like a kind of buzzing but not quite. After one, two or maybe three tries is fires up and if I apply gas starught away she fires up and should be fine. This happens 9/10 times I start her up!

    Also the horn doesn't work :sick:

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    S x
  • rhartfordrhartford Member Posts: 2
    Please help.... I have a 1997 sunfire. It will start, but immediately dies out. If I keep the starter engaged it will continue to run. As long as the key is in start position. Let off key and car dies.. I cannot aford to take it to the shop. I have to fix this myself.
  • ClairesClaires Member Posts: 1,222
    Hi, rhartford,

    If you don't get an answer here, you might try asking the folks in the "No Start" Problems discussion. Even though your car starts, it doesn't seem to want to "stay started", and the people there may have some insight for you.


    Need help getting around? claires@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Tell everyone about your buying experience: Write a Dealer Review

  • sunfiresuesunfiresue Member Posts: 2
    I have a 2000 Pontiac Sunfire, that has been having starting problems for about 3 weeks. The car started having an error message, "locked stereo" message and all my dash board lights showed up. I then had it sitting for about 6 days, and then it wouldn't start. Finally got it started and it drove perfectly fine with no error messages for about two days. Then when out in the morning to start it and would not start. It will turn over for a second or two then stalls. I noticed it does this when its damp/rainy out..Any thoughts?
  • jcarbojcarbo Member Posts: 1
    Hey people,
    I have a 2002 2.2L Sunfire with 85km on it. Recently [as recent as today] the car has not been starting. This has only happened twice in the last month or so. I took it to the dealership and they say they can't find anything wrong with it??? It started right away when they got their hands on it. Today the cars starts an stays on for about 1 second then dies..? Anyone with any ideas? 2 Months ago I had the fuel pump replaced and the dealership said, nothing wrong with it.
  • jeremy6jeremy6 Member Posts: 1
    Anyone had any luck with this one??? Happening to my '99 SF now and is a PAIN!
  • babygirl24babygirl24 Member Posts: 7
    It might be an ignition problem. I read on the recall page that there is an ignition switch recall. If its that then its free. It might be an ignition coil, but I don't even know if they have those in these cars. I know I owned a accord once that needed one. But check with your local pontiac dealership to see if its a recall. They might even be able to tell you exactly whats wrong with your car, the service managers are good like that. Just don't ever bring your car to a dealership to have work done that you have to pay for because they will rip you off with the price.
  • babygirl24babygirl24 Member Posts: 7
    sounds like an electrical problem. Sometimes they work themselves out and sometimes you need to go to a shop. good luck.
  • babygirl24babygirl24 Member Posts: 7
    my dad has a 92 accord and it has problems starting if it is parked in the sun and when its really hot out. try parking it in the garage or in the shade it might help you with the problem. If problem consists then it needs more tests. good luck.
  • sid_jr08sid_jr08 Member Posts: 3
    Hi everyone. I am new at this and just found this site by trying to find out what the heck is wrong with my sunfire. I own a 1998 Sunfire GT. Everything on it has been great till the last month. First the heater module went on me. $110. Then a week later...my car stalled while I was waiting at a red light. For no reason at all. It has never done this before. So I started it up again and had no problems startin it. Then a week later it did the same thing. Started again no problem. So I took it back in and they said I needed a tune up. So I got a $450 tune up. Now after that $450 tuneup...I have a clunking noise when I turn the steering wheel, and it still stalls. I took it back in and they put it on the computer and entered the codes and did what they could and can't figure it out. So now I am goin in for an oil change tomorrow...and yesterday and today it stalled again . Starts right up no problem...but it keeps stallin more and more now.

    Does anyone out there know what the problem is? Any suggestions? I was thinking the fuel injection? When I try to not let it stall and I give it gas, it doesn't want to go.

    I love my car so much, and have only owned it for a yr. I really want this car to be good for another few yrs...what can I do?

    Confused in Ontario Canada
  • ClairesClaires Member Posts: 1,222
    Hi, sid_jr08,

    Another place that you might want to post about your problem is the Idle or Stalling Problems: All Vehicles discussion. The folks there are likely to have an answer for you if you don't find one here. Hope you get this solved quickly :-)


    Need help getting around? claires@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Tell everyone about your buying experience: Write a Dealer Review

  • rickvanrickvan Member Posts: 2
    I to have a 99 sunfire that wont start randomly. It started about 2 years ago and is frustrating as heck. You can run into a store and come back out and it will not start. It will crank over and sometimes fires but dies right away. Have had it towed in 3 times and when it gets to the mechanics it starts fine. Had the fuel pump tested for pressure and it is right up to speck, when you turn the key on you can hear the fuel pump going till the pressure is up and then it stops like it is suppose to but the car still doesn't start. Have had the fuel filter replaced and it doesn't matter the weather conditions or how much fuel is in the tank it will not start. You can walk away from it and come back in a half hour and it will start and run fine. Someone mention maybe the crank sensor might be the problem. It has had the update done by GM for the ingnition recall but made no difference. Anyone have ANY input on this?????
  • lizard2lizard2 Member Posts: 1
    Try running a full tank of supreme and dumping in a bottle if injector cleaner. It Helped with my Cavalier.
  • rugby05rugby05 Member Posts: 1
    I was driving home from college when all of a sudden the car stalled coming out of a intersection. After it stalled it wouldn't start again. It tries to fire but it just doesnt go. I took it in to get serviced and they said it might be the fuel pump, just wondering if that is my only option. and if it is where could i find a decent fuel pump for a little less then then my quote at $300. Any help would be appreciated.
  • 96blacktopgt96blacktopgt Member Posts: 1
    Hey all! New to the board! Hope someone has some wisdom to help me out! I have a '96 GT 2.4L. Sometimes it just won't start! Battery's good, fuel pump's new/tank, have 'short-ram' intake and header-back custom exhaust; no engine mods yet but soon.
    Sometimes when the key is turned there is no fuel pump pressurization noise and the car will crank but stalls almost immediately or just won't even turn over. You can sit in it for 5 minutes, crank it and it starts right up or sometimes it won't crank for a day!
    Or, you can hold the ignition in the 'start' position for a few seconds and then it'll crank up...? Any suggestions? :confuse:
  • pontiac3pontiac3 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 1995 sunfire that that has @ 180,000 miles. The car stalls for no reasons. I have taken to mechanics and no one can seem to identify the problem. Spark plugs/wires have been changed, fuel filter has been changed. Any ideas what could be causing this problem. Doesn't happen all the time. May run perfect for weeks and then will stall.
  • kissandmakeupkissandmakeup Member Posts: 1
    I just bought a 1995 Pontiac Sunfire myself and I was having the same problem as you. I took it to a transmission shop and they fixed it. Apparently this problem isn't very rare with these cars. I think what happens is when the engine gets warm there's a sensor in the transmission that stops working and works like a stick shift, and when the sensor isn't working, it acts as though you aren't using the clutch right. So I just had my car fixed for that problem at the transmission shop, it cost me $225. I'm not sure if that's what your problem is, but you should go have them check it out for you. When my car stalled it was usually when I would press on the brakes. Hope this helps! :blush:
  • terrimichelle8terrimichelle8 Member Posts: 1
    I have a '99 sunfire that just recently started to feel like it was going to stall, kind of jerking, and has stalled a couple of times. Mine also doesn't do it all the time, sometimes it's perfectly fine, then some days it does it a lot. Has anyone figured out what is wrong with it?
  • rob_1986rob_1986 Member Posts: 1
    Terrimichelle8, The 1995- till the last Sunfire/Cavalier. have all had this problem, it is due to something as simple as a dirty Throtle Plate, as well as dirty Fuel Injectors, now get some Brake Cleaner and clean off the throttle plate and dump it in your engine dont worry your engine will burn it off when u start it, and there you go it should run as good as new! hope this helps (remeber to do this at least once a year with these cars)
  • rebelflag69rebelflag69 Member Posts: 1
    Hey whats up.. I have a 2000 Pontiac Sunfire and mine was doing the same thing one time.. I had a leak in my Radiator hose... So i had to replace it.. You should try it.. they dont cost very much..
  • yaahhuuyaahhuu Member Posts: 1
    I have 96 Sunfire 2.2L with 138K on it. Since past couple of weeks I've been experiencing following problems:

    1. Blowing thick black smoke
    2. Stalls intermittently at traffic lights
    3. Misfires

    I had it checked completely and the mechanic suggested an engine replacement! He gave me a printout of results and said there are two cylinders misfiring and there is a little crack in head gasket. Now I can't even drive the car as the pickup is terrible. Should I get the engine replaced? I can't even sell it in this condition (it won't even pass the emission test). Mechanic said, he would find me an engine with around 77000 clicks for $1100 - $1300. Is it worth? This is my first post, I would really appreciate any inputs.

    Thanks :confuse:
  • big_jerrbig_jerr Member Posts: 3
    I have had the same problem in my 2000. The stalling or lack of starting got worse and worse until it wouldn't start. The problem was the ignition switch, and had nothing to do with the factory recall on the switch. The recall had been done already. Here is an article that will show you how to repair the problem step by step. http://www.freeengineinfo.com/index.php/auto_tuning/2006/06/12/ignition_switch_1- Hope this takes care of your problem as it did mine! :)
  • 1fastsnfr1fastsnfr Member Posts: 3
    i have a 1996 sunfire se (2.2, 5spd). i've owned it for a couple of years, and have fixed most of the common problems with the 2.2, as in the head gasket, fuel pump, ignition module, etc. now, however, it has started to die on me after the engine is warm. it will miss really bad then die, and it won't syart back for like two hours! i was told it was the fuel pump, and i replaced it, but it didn't help. like i've sai, it has new coil packs, IM, fuel pressure regulator, fuel pump, and new plugs and wires. WHAT IS MY PROBLEM!!!! i really like the car, and i've done so much work to it (after market) that i would hate to get rid of it. is it an electrical problem, or mechanical?
  • 1fastsnfr1fastsnfr Member Posts: 3
    i have a 96 2.2 5spd sunfire, and its giving me alot of trouble. it will run fine until the engine is warm, then it will spit and miss, then die. while its missing, the tach will go all wonky, and the speedo will jump around. when it dies, it won't start for like an hour or so! i've already changed the igniti0on module, coil packs, fuel pressure reg., and fuel pump. in fact, after i put yhe fuel pump in, it acted crazy, and now it won't strat at all! is this an electrical problem, or something i can fix easy? PLEASE HELP! i love this little car, and id hate to have to get rid of it because i can't fix it! :cry:
  • incourtincourt Member Posts: 1
    Does anyone know about whether the recall problem could have caused my ignition switch to wear out. (No known fires, thank goodness).

    If not, what is this garage talking about when they say they have to replace the sensor and everything else. All I want is a new switch, that should be cheap enough. They want $650!
  • mon5603mon5603 Member Posts: 2
    Alright, so I have a problem with MY 2000 sunfire too!!! I've recently had my engine replaced (about 4 months ago, but we won't get into that problem) and about 1 1/2 months ago it started running really rough. My engine light and T/C light come on the dash and the code says intermittent misfire on cylinders 2&3. Pretty random stuff. Tried the wires, tried coils, tried EGR valve, and even tried unplugging the battery for awhile to try and reset ECM.
    The car never actually stalls, it runs rough while driving and while idling. And this starts happening right away, the engine isn't even warmed up yet. It only gets better when in neutral.
    On top of all of this my car shifts really hard (auto.) and I've had my car up on the hoist and the fluid is fine.
    Please help and give me some suggestions as I am really fed up with my car. I've only owned it a year and have sunk too much into it.
    Thanks so much :lemon:
  • torrtorr Member Posts: 1
    I changed the spark plugs and wires one at a time, gapped to .040 I also changed the fuel filter. I took it for a drive and the check engine light came on. It idles great but if you put a load on it, it runs real rough. Checked the spark plugs for debris and wires on tight, put the old fuel filter back on, but it didn't help. Any body got any suggestions? Help mee!!!
  • mciccimcicci Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2000 Sunfire with 40,000 miles on it. When I drive the battery light comes on and then goes off. Then all of my interior lights slowly dim out and all of my dash indicators light up and the car dies. I have replaced my Alternator, battery and positive battery terminals and I am still having problems. I don't know what to look for next, any sugesstions?
  • durfeecdurfeec Member Posts: 1
    my 96 sunfire 2.4 starts only if i floor it. then it goes up to about 4500 rpms and quits. it will idle for about 1 second, but it only runs off of 2 cylinders. the middle two fouled out, so we changed the plugs. now one doesnt get wet at all. we replace the throttle postioning sensor, but nothing. have some sort of clue what is wrong?
  • kimmy227kimmy227 Member Posts: 1
    My car is currently sitting at the parking lot of my work and has been sitting there for 5 days now. When i place the key in the ignition the key turns but nothing happens...no lights on the dash and best of all won't start. I was speaking with my husband and I remember 2 years ago we had to get the recall fixed on our vehicle and I'm wondering if this wore out the ignition switch. I can't wait to trade this car in. If anyone knows what's wrong please let me know. :cry: :confuse: :sick:
  • chris73chris73 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 sunfire. It keeps stalling while i'm driving. :cry: I've taken it to many mechanics and nobody can tell me what is the matter with it. i've replace fuel filter and many other things and nothing seems to work... Please help me if you know of anything that may help.
  • big_jerrbig_jerr Member Posts: 3
    Sorry it seems this link has changed, here is the new one. http://www.freeengineinfo.com/auto-tuning/ignition-switch-1.htm
  • johnnymurphjohnnymurph Member Posts: 35
    Have your mechanic check the grounding (frame and electrical). You have replaced all the right things. An intermittent ground will do these things.
  • jfass_17jfass_17 Member Posts: 3
    IF anyone has found the problem let me know. I have a 96 sunfire that I have had starting problems. It has only happen a couple of times but will start up after a while. Now it will turn over and try to start, but it won't stay running. Also the lights are not on the dash board when the key is turned to the on position. This happen one other time but the lights came back on and the car started. any help??
  • jfass_17jfass_17 Member Posts: 3
    Did you find any things to check on with the starting
    issue. My 96 died again and i took the dash apart and
    played with the wires and once a I got the dash board
    lights back on it started. You can email me at


  • michael46940michael46940 Member Posts: 1
    Did you ever fix this problem as I have a 96 grand am with the 2.4l twin cam with these same symptoms including the speedo and tach jumpind around.

    Please let me know what you did to fix
  • darlenecdarlenec Member Posts: 1
    I was wondering if you ever found out the cause. I have a 96 that will run fine for a few days then whild driving down the road, it completly shuts down, like it doesn't get any poser. We have replaced fuel pump, crank sensor, alternator and battery also had a tune up the problem keeps happeing. Any suggestions?
  • jeannie6jeannie6 Member Posts: 2
    I have a 2005 Sunfire that has been back to the dealer (for the third time today) with a intermittent stalling / fuel problem. They can't find any error codes on the computer, nor does it happen when they test drive it. I am ready to trade it in for good!!!! Any ideas?

  • charlesqcharlesq Member Posts: 1
    my 95 sunfire will stall when first taking off, then after that it will lag. If you give it too much gas it will bogg out and speed will decrease and it will die. You got to give it just a little gas at a time. But if you drive it like a stick and start in 1st then shift up to 2nd and on to drive it acts alot better. What could it be?
  • mess24_7mess24_7 Member Posts: 1
    Its probably the TCC Solenoid go to http://autorepair.about.com/library/a/1e/bl556e.htm
    It did the trick for my daughter's Sunfire.
  • jeannie6jeannie6 Member Posts: 2
    Thank you so much!!!! I will have that checked out. Jeannie
  • dalbrendalbren Member Posts: 1
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