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Pontiac Grand Am Starting/Stalling Problems



  • keith85keith85 Posts: 1
    new fuel pump,fuel regulator......turn key on pump comes on...other days turn key to on pump not on ,wont start, wait about 2 min. comes on..then starts. car has only 30,000 miles..never in an colision....
  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524
    Ignition switch?
  • mmwiesemmwiese Posts: 1
    About two months ago, my '97 Grand Am was having some problems when you'd shift to reverse after starting it up. (Actually quite similar to tigergal's, above.) It would die and the battery lights, etc. would come on, but I got pretty adept at avoiding this by either giving the car some gas when it was still in park after I'd first start it up, or, if that didn't work, and the car did die in reverse, then turning it off, putting it back in park, and trying it again would usually elicit positive results. Once I'd driven the car a bit, I could reverse, park and turn it off and on again, and there wouldn't really be any problems.

    Anyway, I thought I'd be proactive and take it into a shop because I didn't want the problem getting worse, even though I could consistently get it running every time. The mechanic, after about a month of trial and error, deduced it was the fuel pump and replaced that. Yay. That was a $700 journey.

    But ever since he got it into his shop the first time (he kept giving it back to me and saying it was fixed only to have it break again), it started having electrical issues. We took it in with a minor problem besides the reverse problem -- that the left blinker had started blinking twice as fast as normal/as the right blinker -- and he seems to have fixed that. But then the battery would be drained every time I came to pick it up (two times in a row), at which point I replaced the battery, even though it was pretty new. The new battery then had issues and the car still wouldn't start.

    After more inspection by the mechanic, he gave it back to us, the car started, I drove down the road and had the car start dying on the road (lights shutting off, power steering freezing up). So, I took it back. I think that's when he did some more work on the fuel pump. Or replaced a different part of it.

    Anyway, I got the car back again, made it all the way home, drove three more days with it, and then came down to my garage to find the battery drained. Again. It won't even pretend to start up when you turn the key. No reaction. It's not the battery. Could it be the alternator? Bad wiring? Something else? The blinker apparently had corroded wiring, is why that was broken. Is that indicative of probably other bad wiring in the car?

    Sorry this mesage is so long, I figured more details were better than less.

    I'm taking it to a different mechanic this weekend, assuming I can get it there without it dying again, but ideas of what he should be looking for, etc. would be wonderful.

  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524
    "I'm taking it to a different mechanic this weekend" That's probably the best thing you could do.
    Your first problem sounds like a simple cold start enrichment issue to me, but it could be something else. Since it seemed to improve after it warmed up though that's where I would start. I'd like to know how it was determined that the fuel pump was bad from these symptoms though.
    The blinking fast problem is almost always due to a burned out bulb or bad connection (usually at the socket) on the circuit and I don't see anything here to conclude it was anything else.
    As far as the battery issue I suspect one of two possibilities - the alternator isn't charging the battery, or there's a drain on the battery when the ignition is off. The first could be caused by the alternator itself but I've seen bad tensioner pulleys for the serpentine belt cause this also, especially on the 4 cyl. Pontiacs of that era. The second could as simple as an interior, trunk, underhood light that isn't going off, or as bad as some subsystem staying on when it's supposed to be off.
  • jar410jar410 Posts: 3
    My car recently started stalling when I would stop at a stop sign or stop light, so I initially thought it was the battery, and went to get that replaced. A few days later it wouldn't start up right away, so I decided to take it to the dealership. The dealership said the fuel pump and fuel filter needed to be replaced, so I got them replaced and it drove fine for about a day, until it stalled out again going down a hill in my parking garage at work. I then had the car towed back to the shop and the mechanic said the first fuel pump was bad, so they had to replace it. It staled again that night turning a corner, so I had it towed to the shop again, and they said they needed to replace the ignition module, so I got that and the crank shaft position sensor replaced. I figured everything they needed to replace was replaced. Well I thought wrong, I took the car home, and then drove it to a friends house that night. On my way home, my car stalled once again at a stop light, and wouldn't start back up for about 45 min. I really want to figure out what the problem is, so I can stop wasting money. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  • illadelfilladelf Posts: 5
    Wow! So I have come here in the past and everyone has been extremely helpful. Just read through nearly every page on this topic, and once again, it seems that many of my fellow "Am" owners are experiencing the same problem as I am.

    My car started doing this whole stalling thing sometime last summer. I had a new fuel filter put in, and the problem stopped for the most part. Just recently it started back up, and is having no mercy on me. When it initially began happening, it was only at low speeds and I was always fortunately on back roads. This past week it started happening on the highway a couple of times.

    I can't continue to drive this thing around because I'm putting myself and others in danger. Got it towed the other day and like others have said, it of course started right up when we got there. They couldn't find any problems with it, said the fuel pressure was fine, etc., etc. If it's an easy fix such as the wiring, I'd love to be able to do something myself. If it's going to cost me a good amount of money, I've had this thing for 10 years and it's time to say Sayonara.

    It doesn't seem like there is a clear cut answer to the problem, and many have spent money on fixing parts to no avail. There has really been no consistency to when it happens (i.e., what speed I'm going) the only thing I am thinking that might make a difference is it seems to happen more when the gas is low (below 1/4 tank). The other crazy thing is that when it does stall out and doesn't want to start back up, if I shake the car it magically turns on. So before I get rid of my baby once and for all, does anyone have any answers or do you think this is a big money problem?? Thanks guys!

  • doofus54doofus54 Posts: 21
    edited April 2012
    this sounds similar to, but not exactly like a bad crank angle sensor. it will work ok cold, but after the engine is at full temp it will fail. after some cooldown time it will start again, but usually only for a short time. it can be intermittent and maddening to diagnose. if you don't want to buy a new one (prices have about doubled since pontiac was murdered) go to your fav junkyard and pick up a couple; if they both work you have a spare. parts are plentiful and most years, if not all are interchangeable. at pull a part about 5 bucks each. the sensor is located above and just right of the oil filter on 4 cyl motors. don't have a clue on v6's. the shaking the car thing, if not a coincidence, may indicate a fuel pick up problem, or water in the tank. has the fuel pump been checked? is your area in its wet season right now? if so, it could be electrical. find every connector in the path of the ignition and fuel system and work them several times, including the relay. if you get under the car, use jack stands. good luck. and i forgot to mention the easiest thing. make sure the battery terminals are clean and tight. weird things can happen if corroded or loose.
  • doofus54doofus54 Posts: 21
    and i forgot to mention the easiest thing. make sure the battery terminals are clean and tight. weird things can happen if corroded or loose.
  • jar410jar410 Posts: 3
    So my mechanic finally figured out what the problem was $1,000 later. He replaced the ignition switch that controls the cars electrical system, and that seemed to do the trick. It will run you around $265, but my car has been running great since that. I hope this will help some people.
  • skill34skill34 Posts: 1
    03, pontiac grand am 3.4 liter engine. Hard to start. There is no check engine light or trouble codes present. Turn the key and everything sounds find as the engine is turning to start but it does't start. After the 5th attempt it almost started and on the 6th attempt I pressed on the gas and it started. Just for a brief second it sputtered and then the idle went back to normal. Any info on what could be causing this?
  • doofus54doofus54 Posts: 21
    thanks for the info. thats one to remember
  • mandijeanvmandijeanv Posts: 1
    I was reading through these to see if anyone had the same problem and I came close to the one by skill34. The car; 2000 Grand AM, V6, will act like it will turn on i.e. lights ignition all that jazz, but the car will not start. I was spraying ignition fluid into the intake manifold and that worked, twice. I am down to just over a tank of gas and I have to park the car pointed down hill for the stupid thing to start. If it is parked up hill, it will not start at all. Any help would be great, Thanks! :confuse:
  • doofus54doofus54 Posts: 21
    edited May 2012
    that is typical of a car low on gas. are you sure the gas gauge is accurate? If it wont start where it is, pour 2 gallons of gas in and see if it starts. start or not, this is likely a fuel pickup problem. have the line pressure checked, and make sure the pressure does not drop off quickly when the engine stops. check all fuel lines / connectors. less likely a cracked fuel line in the tank letting air in or fuel out. if you check make sure to look into the pump housing also . other possibilities are water in the tank, clogged inlet filter(s), or an intermittent pump. on that point, do you hear the pump run for about a second when you turn the key to "run"? if not, you have an electrical problem, or a pump is in your future. good luck.
  • reddash1reddash1 Posts: 1
    I own a Grand Am 1999, 6 cylinder. My car stops running while I'm driving. I've been having this problem since April and it's getting worse. When my vehicle stops, I would easily start it again, but now I can't even get it to start after it stops. Every time it stops, both the battery and oil pressure lights come on. I had the battery replaced sometime in May. The fuel pump is fine.
    Any help is appreciated!
  • kelly80kelly80 Posts: 1
    I have a 03 6 cylinder that won't turn over. Checked battery and Starter both were good. When I try starting it, I can hear a faint sounds coming from the throttle body area. Kind of sounds like an alarm clock sounds when running out of power. any suggestions?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,604
    Did you have the car scanned for trouble codes? Having the dash lights come on after a stall is normal, because the engine has stopped.

    These symptoms could have a lot of causes. We may have to wait until you have a complete no-start and then check for fuel pressure, spark, injector pulse etc to figure out which one went south.

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  • doofus54doofus54 Posts: 21
    That noise you hear is probably normal injector noise. If your battery is good, how about the battery cables? Try this to bypass all starter wiring. MAKE SURE THE IGNITION IS OFF! To check, get a set of GOOD jumper cables and attach the hot side to the hot terminal on the solenoid and to the battery. Attach the cable ground to the battery FIRST! Find a good, solid ground on the engine block and make sure it's clean with no rust. And get ready for some sparks. Push the cable end to the block with good force. It will spark a little or a lot, but you should hear the solenoid click, and the motor should turn over. If it does, the most likely culprit is one of the cables, or their attachment points. But it could be the ignition switch, or a fuse if there is one. If the solenoid clicks, but nothing happens, probably the starter is faulty. Same if it clicks not. good luck!
  • Okay I have a pontiac and the car won't start. I thought it be be a battery problem but the radio and lights work. When I try and start the car it makes a clicking noise. A couple times it made a little noise like it wanted to turn over. I checked the fuses and found none blew. The car has gas in it. Its low on oil but that shouldn't make it not turn over should it? I don't know if its the starter silinoid or what. Ik the ket has a small metal like chip thing built into it. When I'm trying to start the car the radio distorts. Please someone give me some ideas. It started up earlier yesterday and then it won't start now. Could it be the big elek start fuse? Idk how to tell if those are blown or not.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,604
    Really does sound like a bad battery or battery connections.

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  • Okay heres the update the car. We jumped it and it took 4 hours to charge it up enough to do that went and watched the firework show and after the show was over we tried to start it again... no go. So my sister tried to jump it with my moms car and it still wouldn't go. A guy came up with a golf cart and it finally started. It worked long enough to get us home now it won't restart.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,025
    As Mr_Shiftright mentioned, it is probably the battery. If you have never replaced the battery, then that's a good place to start. Even when the battery is *almost* dead, sometimes there's enough juice to make the dash lights light up, because that takes very little, whereas starting the vehicle takes a lot more juice. Before you go on a hunting expedition for other issues, you should replace the battery (if you haven't in a few years), or at least clean the connections.


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  • jepier01jepier01 Posts: 1
    I have a 2001 Grand Am (V6), with 131,000 miles on it. Mine drove mine about 40 minutes, then stalled but radio and gauges were all still working, so pulled off to the side of the road and stopped, battery and oil pressure lights came on. Shut it off and waited about 1 minute and it started right back up. Drove fine after that, but check engine light came on so had my mechanic do a computer check on it for the error. He checked everything out, battery, wiring, fuel pump, etc., and didn't find anything, but the computer was reporting a CAM error. He checked that out too and said it was fine, but my car was below a 1/4th of a tank when it happened. Grand Am's are notorious for dropping the CAM around 150,000 miles though, so I'm wondering if that's about to happen in the future. Mechanic said that there are actually two of them in the Grand Am, so if just one goes out then you'll still be able to drive it but get it to the shop ASAP. He reset the computer and it ran fine for the next 6 months or so, then it did it again on another long road trip and once again I was getting around that 1/4th a tank mark. Started right back up again and went the rest of the trip (about an hour) just fine. Drove great for another 3 or 4 months, then just yesterday on a 4 hour trip it did it multiple times, but again I had 1/8th a tank and was cutting it close the last part of the trip when it did it about 6 times. Weird, because my radio, blinkers, headlights, and gauges all still work, its just like the fuel pump goes out (had that happen with my last truck). I gave it more gas while messing with the blinkers to see if they still worked, and it stuttered a little bit then started back up on its own without even stopping the car, so I'm wondering if when it just gets that low on fuel it gets air or something in the fuel pump or line and causes it to stall, because pushing on the gas pedal a couple times was making it start itself back up while I was still driving on the highway. Might have the fuel pump and/or filter checked out again, seeing as it's been a good year and a half since I've had my mechanic check it out, and keep it above a quarter tank of gas :)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,604
    Nah, I think it's electronic from the symptoms you report. I think the 1/4 gas tank is correlation, not causation.

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  • mojo72mojo72 Posts: 1
    My car did this several times (sporadically) in which I had it towed to a service station. I was told it was my security feature which was expensive to replace - so I just crossed my fingers. After the third tow, a lady who worked at the service station was nice enough to tell me I could "fix" this myself. Here is what you do when it doesn't start: Turn your key three times to the "on" position (but not turning it over to start it). On the third time, leave it in the "on" position. Your dash lights will quit flashing, except for your security light. It takes about 10 minutes, but when the security light quits flashing - turn your key to the "off" position, and then try starting it. It works everytime (so far).
  • czbabyda1czbabyda1 Posts: 1
    sounds like safety neutral switch sorry late post just answering for someone else with the same problem in the future
  • I have a 2005 Pontiac grand am. It runs great…. But about 2 weeks ago, I noticed that it would only start when it was cold outside. (usually in the morning) then later in the afternoon when I went to leave to go home. The car would struggle to start. I was parked in the shade, because I noticed when I would try to start it in the afternoon and it was hot outside, it would take 3 or 4 starts to get it running. The last time I went to start it in the afternoon, the electric locks, flickered back and forth twice. Then the car just wouldn’t start at all. The next morning after leaving it sitting all night…. Started again, which then I took it to the mechanic, who thought it was the fuel pump, so that was replace. That didn’t work…. So then he replaced the battery. That didn’t work. There is no check engine light or anything that comes on. Everything runs it normal sequence when trying to start it. well after having the car for three weeks, he has given up and told me that it is the security system and I would need to take it to the dealer. What do you think?
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,025
    Hm... I am NOT a mechanic, but you might want to check our Grand Am Security Passlock discussion. That link will take you to posts near the end of the discussion, but you might want to start a few pages back and read other owners' symptoms, and the advice provided to them to fix it. Since a mechanic said it was the security system, the "cut the white wire" solution mentioned there MAY be the fix for your problem, and it is a free, do-it-yourself job.

    I can't say that that is the problem, but it's probably worth reading that discussion, and perhaps posting over there too.


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  • I am having the same problem down to the door unlocks activating, I would really like to know what you find out. Everyone I talk to tells me it's my fuel pump, but I tryed bypassing the fuel pump relay when it is hot outside and the doors just unlock. I tryed this when it was cold and the fuel pump kicks in no problem. Does this mean that it is my fuel pump? And it does not work when it's hot outside? Or is there other relays or kill switches that tie in after the relay? Does anyone know what I can do to eliminate all other possibilities? Thanks Chris
  • A friend of mine from out of town, who is also a mechanic, went through the car with me and we figured it was the ignition switch. Changed it out and no more problems.
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