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Pontiac Sunfire Starting and Stalling Problems



  • 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?
  • 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:
  • 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!
  • 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 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 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?
  • 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?
  • 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 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:
  • 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.
  • Sorry it seems this link has changed, here is the new one.
  • Have your mechanic check the grounding (frame and electrical). You have replaced all the right things. An intermittent ground will do these things.
  • 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??
  • 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


  • 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
  • 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?
  • 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?

  • 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?
  • Its probably the TCC Solenoid go to
    It did the trick for my daughter's Sunfire.
  • Thank you so much!!!! I will have that checked out. Jeannie
  • suerte41suerte41 Posts: 2
    How did this turn out for you? Did replacing the TCC Solenoid solve the problem you were having?

    I have a 2004 Sunfire and I have had very similar problems that you described. My car usually starts on the first try most of the time, but on 3 different occasions in the past month it has not started for me. The time between failed start-ups has shortened. One night I tried for an hour to start it and it finally started. Ran well for 2 days and then the same thing happened; I stopped at gas station and it wouldn't start again. I had it towed, the dealership said it was the fuel pump and I paid way too much money to get a new fuel pump installed. That worked for about a day. Then one morning it wouldn't start again...and after 20 minutes, it started. The dealer couldn't find any problems and couldn't find any "computer codes." Just 2 days ago, my car wouldn't start and I finally got it to start, then I was going about 25 mph and it stalled once I applied the brakes, at about 0-2 mph. Everytime I try to start it and it won't start, it spins and tries to turn over, and sometimes catches, but only for a second, then turns off.

    Does replacing the TCC Solenoid fix this problem?
    Is it easy to troubleshoot this by unplugging the "square" plug on the transmission, like the " Auto Repair" articles states?
    Please...I need help with this...this is my only car.

  • lcrgallcrgal Posts: 3
    never had a problem before this morning. the motor is turning over but it will not start. at a loss. is there an in-line fuel filter or something i can check myself? HELP.
  • wiresmanwiresman Posts: 1
    :sick: Dude my daughter has a 2001 that is doing the same thing, she thought the trans was going out. I drove it and it runs fine, excellent power, no idle problems, but if you cruise with it at any speed then it starts missing and sometimes violently it usually drops 1000 RPM, does it in 4th or 3rd but not when I put it in neutral and hold rpms the same, or when I let off throttle completely. It only misses bad while steady cruising, I can wiggle the accelerator up and down a bit while cruising and it wont miss at all. The big prob for me is that no CEL or MIL is coming on. It has only 54,000 miles on it ! oh yeah its a 2001 Sunfire 4 Dr, 4spd auto with 2.2 OHV engine, no wonder I got it cheap. She is scared to drive it and doesnt have money to have shop fix it. So if you fixed your problem please clue me in, thanks. I usually NEVER have shop repair any vehicle of mine but I fear I may be becoming time and technically challenged :). I am figuring a vacuum leak (although I can't hear one with hose, and starting fluid didnt change idle either), or sensor feedback resulting in a lean condition, but no MIL and only 53,000 miles? I appreciate all and any replies in advance ! Thank You ! OBD II....doesnt know jack! :lemon:
  • I had a similar problem a few months ago with my 2004 Sunfire. I went to start my car on Saturday morning, and it wouldn't start. I would try to start it, it would spin, and start, but every time I let off of the key it would die. After taking it to the dealer (it was still under warranty), the dealer said that the wires on the ignition switch are very thin and apt to short. On my switch, the wires would only make contact while in the start position.
    I don't know if this would help your car, but it's worth checking out.
  • laura97leelaura97lee Posts: 1
    I am having similar problems with my 2001 Sunfire with about 103,000 miles. I had taken it to firestone b/c the car died and wouldn't turn over at all. They told me it was that the entire fuel system was fried. That costabout $800 to fix. Worked okay for half a day. Started driving it again and the whole car would just turn itself off. Then I took it back in and had an oil change and a tune up and they replaced my relay switch for the iginition. This didn't fix the problem at all. Car is still riding and driving quite rough. Car will stall out when I have to drive the car a lot and always seems to happen in rush hour traffic. It happens at very low speeds. The ETS (Traction Button) will turn itself off and then then engine light will come on and next thing you know, the whole car is off. Turn it back on immediately and put it into gear and when I do that, the car violently jerks. Sometimes when trying to go, the car will hesistate and acts like it is going to stall. Newest problem just happened this past weekend. Pushed gas pedal all the way to the floor and the car stayed in 1st gear and wouldnt shift. Had to turn the car off and turn it back on and it again would violenty shift into gear. I have spent over $1100 bucks on the car in the past month and firestone can't seem to tell me what else is wrong b/c they say they can't find anything with all the computer testing they have done. The car turns itself off, so there must still be a problem. I am taking to a Ponitac dealership next week, if the car even last that long. Any ideas on what the problem might be?? :confuse:
  • nixmikenixmike Posts: 1
    have a 2002 Sunfire...right out of the blue this won't start...never happened before. It will turn over but then cuts out. Battery seems to be fine as lights turn on so it doesn't seem to be a battery problem. What could it be...alternator all of a sudden? Never had a problem before.
  • I bought a 1995 standard pontiac sunfire off this guy who wanted to get rid of it for a hundred bucks. he said it needed head gaskets on it. i thought hey good deal. i had head gaskets replaced on a toyota camry a few years ago and it was like 500 bucks. I in the end get a car for 600 bucks. Well it turns out that when the headgaskets go, it forces other things to go as well like the radiator and some other junk. I have it sitting in my parking lot. It runs, but I was told I wouldn't know for how long so i just have it there. I need to get it fixed, but does anyone have a main idea on how much it will cost me to get it fixed? Because of the headgaskets water leaks right into the oil. PLEASE HELP!!!!!! I NEED A CAR!!!!!!!!!!!! :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad:
  • I have a 1998 Sunfire 2.2L with 171,000km - all was well with the car until this week. I've started to notice a shudder like the car is missing. I'm having a hard time pin pointing when exactly the car does this since I've noticed it during acceleration and also while cruising at highway speed. It hasn't come close to stalling but keeps missing a beat seeming at random intervals. No engine warning lights at all & no overheating. Haven't noticed any starting issues either. I have noticed that when it's acting up and shuddering/missing I've noticed some loss in power when I put my foot down, it seems to temporarily resolve if i give it lots of gas and gets up into the higher RPM range.

    I've been going down the most obvious path to see if I can rectify the problem - new plugs & wires, air filter, fuel injector cleaner. Although I can feel the difference in performance with these new parts and it idles much smoother, the underlying problem is still persisting. I've noticed the fuel filter has the under carrage oil protection gunk on it so I'd say it's been at least 5 years since it's been changed if at all. I made an attempt to change the fuel filter today but the quick release ring won't budge and probably needs a mechanic to cut it off and replace the filter intake elbow also.

    I'm almost at the end of my short list of things I can diagnose/fix myself so I thought I'd post my problem before forking out the big bucks to a mechanic. $75 with no gaurentee it's even going to be fixed - who has that kind of money?!
  • ladymyladyladymylady Posts: 21
    Just reading up on problems with all GM cars caused by radiator and Dex cool coolant (orange stuff) blowing gaskets...leaking etc..

    did you check to see what's in your radiator?

    google Consumer Affairs GM Dexcool

    hundreds of complaints..

    one guy says he solved the problem:

    M L of San Rafael CA (08/26/06) *WE'VE FIXED THE PROBLEM(S)!!
    And while it's irritating to look back and see how much $$ I've needlessly thrown at my '92 K1500 Chevy Blazer, several radiators, head gasket, heater core, trans cooler lines, uptake gaskets, pretty much everything that has come into contact with cooling fluids has either corroded or slowly disintigrated. All due to what turns out to be a basic electrical design flaw at GM.
    radiator guy hates Dexcool, suspects that perhaps it's the electrolisis that causes the Dexcool to turn to a jelly goop.
    Says the higher the amp reading in the radiator, the more goopy Dexcool seems to be.

    My story: The original radiator in my '92 Chevy lasted a good while (hint: older radiators had A LOT more copper in them). The trouble really all started and in a big way, after replacing the original radiator. I did pay the $500.00 for the new GM radiator. (hint: the newer made radiators have little to no copper in them. They are mostly aluminum and steel) Within a couple months, I started having to dump money into my K1500 Blazer, LOTS of it!
    When radiator #3 started leaking, I got fed up with my mechanic, who kept saying, it's a high milage vehicle. I should expect this. Not thinking it was even slightly odd that everything seemed to be connected to the cooling system or somehow come into contact with it, even though nearly every repair seemed to require draining the radiator?? So, I looked for the oldest, greasiest, busiest, radiator shop in my area. First thing the guy did, after hearing the list of repairs I'd made, was to drop a probe in the radiator to check for a charge, in other words, electrolysis. An acceptable reading is .03 amps. I was running at .38 amps!! Turning the engine off it would only drop it to .27 amps.
    So, he replaced leaking radiator #3, and rechecked it,.. .58 amps!! It went up! He shrugged and said, new one must have even less copper than the last one. I've seen a lot of these GM's with this crap going on. I've been doing this thing that seems to fix this problem. Then an off-duty local cop pulled in with his Blazer, newer than mine. We got to talking, he'd had most of the same problems and this radiator guy fixed it for him 3 years ago, and hadn't had a problem since.
    Here's what my guy did...
    #1 - Attached three, braided ground cables, randomly to the radiator and the block, and grounded them.
    #2 - Then took a piece of copper pipeing aprox 3 long, with the same hollow as the heater-core hose, soddered a copper ground wire to the side of it. Midpoint on the hose running from the radiator to the heatercore, he spliced this small copper pipe into the line using hose clamps. Then using the ground wire he had soddered to it, grounded it to the engine block.
    #3 - Drained and refilled the cooling system with DISTILLED water and GREEN coolant. Dexcool in his experance is CRAP, and I quote him. He did all this very quickly, then dropped the probe into the radiator and poof .02 amps! It cost me $100. He has me come in to recheck the amps once a month. And still 6 months later, .02 amps, and no new problems. I was averaging 1 problem per month, a leak here, a suspicious gasket there. Now nothing. So, it seems to me that there are really two problems. One affecting the other. A cooling system grounding problem, electrolysis resulting in corrosion and dissintigration of parts and gaskets. And then Dexcool which is unstable in an electrically charged enviroment and turns to goop. Maybe I'm wrong but my '92 K1500 Blazer now has 212K miles on the original engine
  • Just bought a 96 sunfire with the "big" (4.2?) motor. It won't start without giving it some, or alot of gas pedal. It has died at idle, with the AC off, but seems to keep running if the AC is on. I replaced the TPS, did as a friend suggested and disconnected the battery for a few minutes then reconnected and cycled the gas pedal. And I adjusted the throttle cable in a little. Daughter loves it other than it dying at stop lights. Any ideas?
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