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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
CAR:
Acura 2.3 CL
1999
153,000 miles.​

DESCRIPTION:
The event appears to occur within a window of 1 to 5 minutes after starting – the SECOND time it’s started on a journey. Usually, thereafter it doesn't happen again. That event is that the engine dies; for no apparent reason shuts off. If I crank it immediately thereafter, it kicks up but dies almost instantly. I could do this several times but achieving no better results. IF, however, I turn the ignition off and wait for no more than a minute doing nothing, then crank it, it fires up and holds its idle.

The first time this happened I was on the parkway doing about 60 mph. Lucky for me I was in coasting distance of an exit and fought the powerless steering to get the vehicle onto the exit ramp.

The typical recurrent sequence would go something like this. The first trip of the day, I'll drive to a location 15+ miles away using a combination of suburban (main roads with frequent traffic lights) and highways (55 mph). The trip is smooth and uneventful. The car having been parked at my destination for over an hour I then leave. Then in a time frame of between 2 and 10 minutes for no reason the engine dies as noted above.

When this erratic failure first began, because it could be "overcome" and implicitly because it was intermittent, I had to live with it. My initial assessment was there's no worse problem to fix than one that doesn't leave a calling card. Finally, I told my mechanic (who had sold me the car). Immediately, he recognized what he believed the problem was. Only through the art of experience do we deal with real world (not textbook) problems. He said he's had many experiences with this type of sudden engine failure. He said it was probably the crank sensor. I'm one not to use my ignorance to question the experts. For again, problems like this go beyond the average nut's ability to understand.

This sensor in my car however is integral with the distributor. The mechanic installed a new aftermarket distributor for $475. In the almost 10 years I've driven this Acura 2.3 CL, which I bought second hand, it never ran so smoothly. It was fantastic. It was that way for almost 2 weeks. So thrilled with my sense of the car being restored to a pedal performance that must have reflected that when it was new I had completely forgotten about the engine dying "3-minutes-into-the-second-trip". Truthfully, I had been raving to my mechanic how delighted I was. Then I remembered I hadn't told him that the engine failure had not since reappeared.

That was only 2 days before it reappeared!

Alone, one could not be more intrigued that in the very deterministic technical world that defines our lives that a mechanical failure could have almost ghost-like traits.

Nonetheless, what engine process might be the cause for this hiccup?

Thanks.

PS The engine die event triggers at a point of engine rpm drop as in a deceleration, even a very mild deceleration. Or as in the most recent occurrence as I came to a stop at a traffic light. Playing with this observation I offer the scenario that in the first 10 minutes or so of operation the engine interprets a negative dv/dt as zero and shuts itself off. This offers some explanation of why only 10's of seconds later it resets and then will crank to idle. But that it doesn't happen again thereafter during the journey also raises the question whether there's some kind of "memory" involved.
 

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Couple things to try:

1. When the car dies, it's important to ascertain whether the car is losing fuel, or losing spark. When you turn the key to off and then back to on, do you hear the buzz of the fuel pump?

2. This could also be caused by a faulty electrical portion of the ignition switch. When it does, try lifting up on the key while in the ignition and see if the engine picks back up.
 
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