Chevy Suburban Electrical Dies While Driving and Stalls

poshposh Member Posts: 3
edited August 2015 in Chevrolet
I have a 2003 Suburban LT and it has started to die while driving and the Air Conditioner stops blowing cold air and the air gets hot as if the A/C weren't on. I have replaced the battery and have had the alternator checked, it's not the battery or the alternator, does someone know what it might be? I have a teenage daughter that uses this car and I would hate for it to break down while she is driving. Please help me someone. Thanks so much

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Diagnose Engine Stalls


  • tidestertidester Member Posts: 10,059
    It's probably to be expected that if the engine stops running then the AC compressor will also stop.

    Does the engine cut off abruptly? Do you hear any noise? Feel any vibrations, jerky motion? Do you see a change in the exhaust?

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • poshposh Member Posts: 3
    Hey, thanks for the reply. None of those things have happened, or I have not noticed, but an example is driving down the street the car just died, nothing really changed and another example is while driving the car there was a sudden shift on the battery odometer, like it went from 14 down to 12 and then back up again, and if the car is on sitting idle and everything is on it struggles to stay on and then if you turn everything off it seems to be okay. The battery is brand new so it can't be the battery, right? Thanks so much for your help. Posh
  • tidestertidester Member Posts: 10,059
    I'm no expert but my first guess would be that it is something electrical. It could be your alternator (which would affect the battery, by the way!), the ECU (electronic control unit) or a bad electrical connection somewhere. Anyone else have any ideas?

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • poshposh Member Posts: 3
    I had the alternator checked and it was fine, I took it to a auto parts place and they hooked it up to check it out and the guy said it was fine. I am really at a loss, any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much for your help, tidester, I'm just a lady with a problem. Ha Ha
  • antzamoraantzamora Member Posts: 1
    All of a sudden on highway engine stopped. Battery is fine because all power still works. After waiting ten minutes or so will start again only to drive a few miles and engine stops again. Any clue?
  • wrenchbender1wrenchbender1 Member Posts: 3
    I am working on a 95 with a 5.7 engine. It is an OBD1. I first found I had only 16 psi. fuel preasure. I changed the pump and now have 65 psi. It will run 2-3 minutes and die. let it cool a bit and again it will run a bit and die. The injectors just shut off. I can pour fuel into the intake and it will run. There are no codes being logged. This tells me that it must be a mechanical problem that OBD1 did not recognise. A dealer told me to change the engine control box. I have one on the way and I'll let you know if it works.
  • wrenchbender1wrenchbender1 Member Posts: 3
    Well the brain box seems to have cured the problem. I let it run 45 minutes. Before it would only fun a few minutes before it died. So I gues I cross my fingers and see what happens.
  • dee23dee23 Member Posts: 4
    I Had same problem with the ac unit... on 95 degree day teh ac decided to get stuck on heating us to like 95 degrees. even turnign off the blower didn't work it still blew hot air at us... we turned car off and went to have dinner, (in middle of nowhere), we got back in and was fine. THen a year later and this cycle repeats itself. We had the brain of unit replaced and seems fine now. THe battery accelerator actuator has another problem, separate issue. It actually drains the battery, so like myself you just went out and bought new battery, this problem of frayed wires that the GM distributor KNOWS about, drains your brand new battery, and even with a jump you have no or extremely reduced engine power, (even says so in dash message)... Frayed wires are the issue, I just want to know how big of an issue, getting sick of wasting a lot of cash fixing problems the dealership is aware of and has handout from GM explaining. THey need to recall, it is dangerous to loose power! GO to a dealership and ask "SES Light and Reduced Engine POwer DTC p0120 etc..." it's a service package all dealerships have so they know what is going wrong.
  • spence57spence57 Member Posts: 26
    My 03 suburban has a similar problem. I've posted several messages about it. Stumbling and poor idle can be caused by air or fuel starvation so make sure that those filters are OK. I think that my own problem is caused by dirt in the fuel tank plugging up the fuel intake screen. I think the dirt falls off when the engine is shut off. It's possible that a mechanic might replace the fuel pump in the tank without cleaning out the fuel tank and fixing the problem.
    This doesn't explain why the car won't start after sitting 10 hours with less than a half tank of fuel and will start if the tank is banged on the bottom. I've done this for at least a year and a half and it works every time if you have some fuel. Possibly related is a recall I received for an instrument panel voltage problem. It causes gauges to read inaccuratly. Our fuel gauge level jumps a quarter tank at times. I wonder if the pump could be programmed to shut off with no fuel indication either to prevent burnout or to keep air out of fuel lines.
  • kevman67kevman67 Member Posts: 2
    '95 Sub (5.7L, 4wd) recently began dying while driving (low speeds, turns, upon parking, etc.).
    Fuel filter replaced this weekend - drove fine - for awhile. I found much debris in old filter - could new filter already be plugged-up? Should fuel pump be checked/cleaned/replaced? Electical seems okay (wires, battery, etc.)
    Please help with any advice you all might be able to offer. Thanks!
  • gmcrichgmcrich Member Posts: 6
    My Tahoe starts and runs great but it has recently started cutting out. It is very noticable while in overdrive going up a small hill. It feels like the motor shuts off for a split second then goes again. It will do this only when the gas pedal is pressed to gain speed at a slow rate. I have also noticed this stutter while stopped at a red light but it is not very obvious. It seems like it starts doing this after it warms up. There are no indicator light on the dash showing a problem. Can this be diagnosed with a scanned if there is no error code displayed? Any ideas where to look? Thanks in advance for your help.
  • kevman67kevman67 Member Posts: 2
    My guess is the fuel pump. Just had similar problem in my '95 Suburban. Changed fuel pump today (fuel filter too last weekend) and now it seems to run like a top! No more lurching or stalling up hills or while driving at slower speeds.
  • bigbrianbigbrian Member Posts: 1
    Just had the same thing with my 03 Burban. Died 5 times on a 300 mile trip at 70mph. Would just quit and then could restart while still coasting. Dealer found a faulty ignition switch.
  • tiggerchicktiggerchick Member Posts: 2
    I have a 97 Suburban, 4wd. I am at my wits end with it! It will start jumping and lurching out of nowhere. The tac will start jumping WILDLY. The first time I noticed it I had just put my foot on the brake and stopped at a traffic light. It then SHUT OFF. I was able to restart it and drove another mile or so to my destination without a problem, but then it started doing the same thing again with the tac when I put my foot on the brake to park.

    Then, it drove just fine with no problems day after day for a week or so. Then, out of nowhere again, the tac started going crazy and the think started bucking and lurching with my foot on the brake. This "behavior" has happened just after it is started, it happens after it's been running for 20 + minutes without any prior problem, there is no rhyme or reason to it. I can start it and it will run in the driveway for 30 minutes with no problems or I can start it on another day and it wont stay running!

    It isn't the fuel pump, or the battery.

    Also, every once in a while when it is having this problem when it shuts off and I go to restart it, it acts as if it isn't going to start. I will have to turn it over several times, and then it will just start.

    Please, if anyone has ANY ideas I would be thankful. This is my main vehicle (the only one our entire family can fit in) and I have four children with me broke down on me on the INTERSTATE with them all in it. Obviously, I lose my power steering and my brakes don't work right when it is EXTREMELY hard to control when it cuts off while I'm driving 65 mph! We've pretty much been house bound (no trips to the doctor because it's 30 minutes away) since this problem began.

    My mechanic cannot seem to get a code on this problem. It has shut off before and I've just let it sit without attempting to restart it. He hooks up his scanner or computer (small handheld box) and it doesn't throw ANY code at all!

    Thank you for taking the time to read through this.

  • kiawahkiawah Member Posts: 3,666
    I would suspect a power problem first, then a computer problem.

    I'd check first to make sure the main power to the vehicle was perfect. Check the battery, corrosion on the terminals or up in the cables, loose connections, key switch, and any main power relays. Probably the easiest way to begin to analyze this, is to hang a (fused) digital voltmeter off a 'switched' power circuit (a circuit that gets turned on via the ignition switch). Watch what happens to that digital voltage (should be normally about 13.5 volts), when the vehicle has the problem which causes the engine to cut out.

    If the voltage is perfect and steady, then move your diagnosis to the computer and engine control circuits.

    If the voltage was jumping around, then you know you have a power problem, and begin to focus there. Move your voltmeter monitoring back to a circuit which is an 'unswitched' (hot all of the time) circuit. If the voltage is fine the next time this happens, then you suspect ignition switch or relay....part of the circuit which is downstream of where you are monitoring. If the voltage is less than perfect, then move your diagnosis upstream toward the battery.

    Good luck.
  • tiggerchicktiggerchick Member Posts: 2
    Thanks for the suggestions/information. I will certainly give that a try. I've read every single post on ANOTHER THREAD (444 of them!) and I'm amazed at how many problems are similar even though the year of the vehicle is different. So many things that it "could" be...I really miss the old cars. lol. I have a 1990 Geo Prizm that I don't drive because it needs a lot of little things done to it/replaced and needs it just sits for now.......but I've always done ALL of the work on it myself. Man, that was a cake-walk compared to having to deal with computers and sensors......Someone remind me again what was so wrong with the way they used to make cars? (I think it's just the manufacturer/dealer's way to get people to bring vehicles in for service as opposed to having backyard mechanics being able to fix everything.... ;) )

    Thanks for the suggestion, again. I will keep this thread posted. Any other suggestions are also welcomed.

  • xamonoxxamonox Member Posts: 1
    Hi I used to own a 1995 chevy suburban. And I had the same symtoms as you do.
    When I would come to a stop at a red light the engine would die. I go to park it the
    engine would die. And when I put my foot on the gas it would lurch forward. When
    my engine would die I would lose power steering. I go to start it again it would crank forever and not start. And the whole time it did'nt throw a code at me. After drive it for months like this it finally gave me a code. It was the coolant senser went
    bad. Check the voltage at the coolant sensor plug with a voltmeter with the key on engine off and it should be 5 volts. To check the coolant senser itself you have to
    ohm it with an ohmeter. Ohm out the coolant sensor once when the engine is cold and once when the engine is at hot at normal operating temperature. Compare it to the ohm spec of the coolant sensor in a hanyes manuel that you can get at autozone. If the coolant sensor is out of the ohm spec replace it. Or you can have a mechanic check the coolant sensor. I replace the coolant sensor on my suburban and it fixed the problem. Hope this helps later
  • kdmillerkdmiller Member Posts: 14
    Those who are having trouble with you 02,03 Suburban shutting down while driving check your cam or crank sensor. Kim M.
  • tryn2comeuptryn2comeup Member Posts: 3
    01 LT Suburban i replaced the battery the truck will be parked over night and in the morning the battery will be very low or dead ihave check a number of times and cant seem to find anything that is running while the truck is off ... is this some kind of short ?
  • bwoodruffbwoodruff Member Posts: 1
    This is exactly what happened to me with my 95 sub. I changed the fuel filter no change. then had the egr valve tested (off vehicle) at a local shop. It tested bad so I replaced still no change with stalling and cutting out. Finally It showed a code 15 on check eng light. wich was my coolant temp sensor. Installed new sensor and magically all works great now.
  • jonny77jonny77 Member Posts: 6
    it shouldnt be a problem with that new a suburban, but how is the oil pressure? if it is too low, it will shut off the engine. also have the fuel pressure checked.
  • azekazek Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2004 Chevrolet suburban Z71, i was driving back from a trip in the afternoon and suddenly the truck just wouldn't accelerate anymore and was just running to a halt and suddenly stopped. I tried starting the car immediately but it will just cranked and not start so i just waited for a about 30-40 minutes and afterward it started and i continued driving and the same thing happened after about 2 hours of driving again. Please can someone tell me what the problem might be?
  • kiawahkiawah Member Posts: 3,666
    Not sure how someone on the internet, who have no ability to look
    at the vehicle to diagnose a problem with only your interpretation of a symptom......but here goes......

    You don't have any fuel, or bad fuel, or fuel pump is bad.

    Or a bad sensor, which one of the 50, who knows.

  • waddellbunchwaddellbunch Member Posts: 1
    i have a problem with my suburban its a 1997. we went to go swimming and about 5 miles from home it just died it will turn and turn but it wont start we went out and bought a distributor car and a rotor because there was no spark past the coil still nothing then we bought the electronic ignition module and still nothing we cant think of anything else does anyone have any suggestions we really would appreciate it thanks
  • otis682otis682 Member Posts: 2
    edited October 2011
    97 Suburban, 350. Never had an issue till I recently went in for an oil change. They said I needed a new air filter (which I admit was pretty bad) to save money I replaced it myself with a Fram. Right after that while idiling at the mall my suburban stalled. Since then it has stalled at stop signs (twice) and cuts out when driving but will stay running. After each stall the truck starts right up. Connections are good and clean, all the way to the fuel pump. I had problems before with a fuel pump and it cut out and then quit and wouldn't start, so replaced it. Any ideas where to start? I really don't think it has to do with the air filter but who knows.....
  • sakidsakid Member Posts: 1
  • backyardshopbackyardshop Member Posts: 1
    theres a reset button located near the air felter assembly its located on the air intake hose it looks like a small cylinder its black on top and bottom and clear in the middle with two different colored peices on the inside. on the top of the cylinder theres a small button push it in for about 8 sec. while the motor is running and let go. then shut the motor off and restart it your problem will go away. in the fueture just remember when u replace the air felter on that type of motor u haft to push the reset button. i hope this was any help to your problem.
  • otis682otis682 Member Posts: 2
    Thank you, I will try it.
  • balan1balan1 Member Posts: 2
    My 2004 suburban stalled after I passed a car on my way home from a trip. Then it just shut completely down right while I was driving. I let the suburban sit for about 5 minutes and it started up again. At that point, as long as I didn't go into the overdrive passing gear, it seemed to do fine. It is almost like there is a sensor that tells it to shut down and it won't let the suburban go into the passing gear again. This is very frustrating as nobody seems to be able to diagnose this problem.
  • missileer1missileer1 Member Posts: 1
    I'm having the same problem with my 2004 Suburban. Did you ever find out what was causing the problem?
  • mg2013mg2013 Member Posts: 1
    Just purchased a 1997 Suburban C1500. While testing the brakes, hard braking the suv stalled.
    Tested this about 3x at about 35 mph, stalled everytime, but cranked right back up. The suv is equipped with a trailer brake controller. If you've experienced this or a similar issue your response is appreciated.
  • balan1balan1 Member Posts: 2
    No, I still have not been able to get help with this issue. I have had people suggest going through a refactoring. This is supposed to update all the electronics in your car. Not sure how much it costs or if it is even possible. Very frustrating that not even a Chevrolet dealer knows what the heck you are talking about but it is definately a real problem. Any luck on your end?
  • adiemadiem Member Posts: 2
    no we still did not find a sollution we had it back at the dealer ship 3 times for the problem.they fixed everything else but the problem.we just got it so the dealer fixed it under warrenty but did mention they put over 6000 in it but it stills does it.I almost got rearended twice due to this problem.what the world is going on.
  • adiemadiem Member Posts: 2
    Hi,I am the one who posted the problem with my 2004 would stall when starting from a dead stop.well we figured out the problem so I hope the guy with the problem check this out.they replaced the brake module do to it being cracked and rusty which later detected that the problem was the hub bearing was splitting apart causing the sencer to act was sending faulty messages to the computer as if we were sliding.Now it runs great.Hope you can get yours fixed also but I suggest getting these items checked.If the module isnt working right it will not pick up the right problem..God Bless
  • grzillagrzilla Member Posts: 1
    Our 2002 Burb Z71 suddenly started stalling while highway driving at 125K miles on the odometer. No warnings, no odd sounds or vibrations... just stalls. We coast to a stop and it restarts and usually continues on without incident. The stalls are erratic... sometimes we've been driving interstate for 4 hours and it stalls, then restarts and continues for 4 more hours driving. Other times, it stalls every 15 minutes while driving. Is it electrical or fuel and why isn't it consistent? There's no rhyme or reason. No codes are evident to the repair shop. They replaced the Crank Shaft Sensor, but we stalled again after driving 250 miles. Air filter has also been replaced.
    How do you troubleshoot something like this when its occurrences are unpredictable and without a code? Wow... makes us hesitant to take it on a trip for worry it will decide not to restart in the middle of nowhere. I have read all the blogs relating to suburbans stalling and have not found a solution. Ideas?
  • markart7markart7 Member Posts: 1
    I had a similar problem that we solved. Thought I would post it here... it may help some of you.
    I had the same problem with my 05 Suburban 175000 miles. It first stalled pulling out into traffic a week ago, left turn, dead stall, no stearing, traffic coming - scary. I was able to get out of the way. It started right up. Ran fine for a day. Then did it again. A day later again. I learned to shift to neutral and crank it while rolling, so I could get out of the way. A couple days later I noticed it was only on left turns. I went to two dealers and two repair shops. No clue. "only on left turns?" no way. It would have to be a wire short. They didn't have time, I was traveling out of state. The car was still going "straight and right" just fine... so I drove on. then I hit a big bump in the road east of Tulsa, and it stalled, but didn't die. 10 miles later it did it again. I'm in the middle of Oklahoma, and it is getting worse. Finally, I'm in walled in construction zone, no shoulder, concrete sides, 10 miles of it, and it dies completely. I shift to nuetral and it won't start. It tries, but won't. Guages are dancing around like crazy. I'm coasting to a stop, 10mph, and there in front of me is a hole in the concrete barrier that I ease through out of traffic. I get towed to a shop and they start pulling on wires. By this time, the car has cooled and it is starting and running fine. For some reason it was worse hot. They notice on a bunch of wires that run down behind or beside the power steering pump and under the car, that the car will stall if they pull on those. So they slide under and take of the skid plate and disconnect all those wires and pull them up for examination. We cut all the tape off, and examine them. The two little wires going to the lower AC switch have a kink and a worn spot, one has the plastic off for an 1/8 inch and the wire is exposed. We taped them up... saw no other bad spots, shook our heads, shrugged and put it all back together. For some reason on the left turn and later when it worsened, on a bump, the rub got worse and worse and then shorted out completely (when it was hot) The AC was working fine, there had been no engine light codes, but this surge / short had caused the stall. It is working fine now... we just drove 200 miles with not one stall. It had gotten so bad that it was stalling every left turn and most bumps in the road. It took 1.5 hours to pull all the wires out, and put it all back. No parts necessary. Hope this helps. Western Auto in Atoka OK - Great guys! thanks!
  • tuburbantuburban Member Posts: 1
    I'm having the same problem with my 2004 Suburban. Did you ever find out what was causing the problem?
    I know this is an old post but I went through it with my O2 Chevy suburban I thought it might be the camp a sensor or the cam sensor but it turned out to be the transmission so I ended up replacing the transmission problem solved strong runner pulls hard needs nothing
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Sounds like you had a torque converter issue?
  • 9horsegal9horsegal Member Posts: 2
    I have 2004 Suburban with 8.1L engine, currently 55,000 miles, very low mileage for a 13-year old. Car has been shutting down to engine barely running, very very rough, 'reduced engine power' read-out on dashboard. This has happened at low speed, generally when braking/coasting to a stop. The first time it happened, mechanic replaced fuel sensor parts (don't know the details) and the gas cap. All was fine for a few weeks, then same thing happened again. This time the alternator and battery were replaced. All was fine for a week or two, and then last week it happened again. Each time the dashboard reads 'reduced engine power' (duh!) and the yellow 'engine' light on dashboard comes on.

    The car re-started after 10 minutes and drove home, about 3 miles, without incident. We turned off the car in the driveway at the house and when we tried to re-start it, it re-started when the ignition key was turned to the first 'accessories' position. We turned it off, then we tried again and it again started at the 'accessories' position. We let it sit for an hour and it re-started and ran in the usual manner, full power, no problems. We have not driven it for a week, it has been sitting in the driveway. We went out and started it a few days ago, started and engine ran fine (depressing the accelerator, no hesitation, no read-outs, etc.). Then we tried again a day later, car started just fine, but yellow 'check engine' light was on, no other read-outs, no problems. This morning we started it to move it to another area of the driveway and it was completely fine, no 'check engine' light, no read-outs, car started and ran as usual..

    This is an intermittent problem, and I am afraid to drive it, don't know when/where the engine will lose power. Can someone here please give me a few suggestions?
  • metallhead79metallhead79 Member Posts: 1
    2003 suburban, 150,000 miles, same issue on long trips. It will lose power, sputter and then die. After I cycle the ignition key a few times, it will start back up and I will be good for another 100 miles or so. After many repairs and troubleshooting, I think I found the fix we have all been looking for....Check your ECM connectors. When I bought this suburban years ago, the first thing that I noticed were the corroded battery terminals, so I cleaned them up and replaced the dying battery. It seems that the previous owner had let it stay corroded like that for so long that the corrosion spread throughout the wiring harness and corroded the connectors on the ECM. Just joined, so once I figure out how to post a pic...I will. Until then, check your ECM connectors. Mine were bad corroded. I am driving 600 miles this weekend, so I will report back and let you know if it fixed the problem.
  • 9horsegal9horsegal Member Posts: 2
    Hi Metallhead79.. Thanks for the info. I have not had the problem at highway speeds, it has always happened at low speed, while braking/coasting to a stop. I forgot to mention that when I had a problem a few weeks ago with the same 'reduced engine power' and yellow 'engine' light, it was determined that the alternator needed to be replaced, along with a new battery (I had to be towed to the shop). So, it has a new alternator and battery and everything was fine for 10 days until I suddenly again experienced 'reduced engine power..' It does appear to be an electrical issue, and perhaps some kind of short may have burned out the alternator...?
    I thank you for your help, and I will let the mechanic know about possible corrosion on the connectors on the ECM (it is now in the shop). I hope your trip goes well, and I will look for your follow-up post next week.
  • 2003SUBKS2003SUBKS Member Posts: 1
    edited March 2019
    Cam Shaft Sensor first because it's easy (top back of engine): If that's not it then Craft Shaft Sensor (up under the starter.)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    These issues can often be identified by using the proper scan tool. Guessing is expensive. An entire diagnostic system was built into the car for this purpose and it pays to use it.
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