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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This past week I did a 2400 mile trip. 2005 3.8. With six people, towing a trailer. In 3rd gear, entire trip. The van did great. Except for one time, out of nowhere, at highway speed (approx 75 mph) the engine just cut off. No warning, no nothing just cut off. Coasted to the shoulder of the road, and checked all I could think to check, found nothing wrong. I started it back up, and was fine. That was about mid trip. Never did it again. Any ideas on that ?
 

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Did you have any warning lights to turn on, or trouble codes, when this happened? How many miles are on the van? Might be a sign of a fuel pump going bad. They usually last around 150K to 200K miles.
 

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IIRC, there was once a bit of discussion regarding weight of keys on key chain and or bumping of items attached to key chain causing accidental rotation of the key to cut off the engine. Have personally never experienced this problem, but thought I'd mention it just to be thorough.

That said, I did experience a couple random engine cut-off events long ago during a period of electrical gremlins causing random flickering lights, fluttering PRNDL display, random dash indicators/dings, and other electrical craziness... a topic often discussed on this forum. If you've had any such electrical craziness going on then I'd suggest tackling that as a possible resolution/precaution. Have not experienced any cut-offs (or other electrical craziness) since cleaning-up grounds, cleaning-up battery connections, and soldering battery cable crimp terminals to cables.

itsallgood's suggestion of the fuel pump also sounds plausible... IIRC, I did get stranded in a parking lot needing a fuel pump replacement at one point that may well have occurred during the time period of electrical gremlins... which lasted a couple of years as the dealer could not seem to resolve the issue. Did not connect the two different events at that time, but it makes sense now that itsallgood points it out.
 

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IIRC, there was once a bit of discussion regarding weight of keys on key chain and or bumping of items attached to key chain causing accidental rotation of the key to cut off the engine. Have personally never experienced this problem, but thought I'd mention it just to be thorough.

That said, I did experience a couple random engine cut-off events long ago during a period of electrical gremlins causing random flickering lights, fluttering PRNDL display, random dash indicators/dings, and other electrical craziness... a topic often discussed on this forum. If you've had any such electrical craziness going on then I'd suggest tackling that as a possible resolution/precaution. Have not experienced any cut-offs (or other electrical craziness) since cleaning-up grounds, cleaning-up battery connections, and soldering batter cable crimp terminals to cables.
All good stuff from ScuzziOne.

Check for stored codes.

Do you have a security system in the vehicle? factory?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Did you have any warning lights to turn on, or trouble codes, when this happened? How many miles are on the van? Might be a sign of a fuel pump going bad. They usually last around 150K to 200K miles.
No warning lights, 3.8 with 141,000 miles. That was in West Virginia. I drove all the way back to TN and since I’ve been back. Not one miss. I’d like to just shrug it off. But if it’s something I could look into to keep from happening again. Obviously that’s what I’d need to do. Didn’t think of the fuel pump. The only other thing is at an idle in drive it’s not very smooth. But in park it’s fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
All good stuff from ScuzziOne.

Check for stored codes.

Do you have a security system in the vehicle? factory?
I can check for codes. Yeah actually it does. Oh, I almost forgot. And this is random, but I noticed when I got home, I couldn’t listen to my normal radio stations. Just fuzz. Like the antenna was unplugged. Totally forgot about that. It not sure if it’s relevant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
IIRC, there was once a bit of discussion regarding weight of keys on key chain and or bumping of items attached to key chain causing accidental rotation of the key to cut off the engine. Have personally never experienced this problem, but thought I'd mention it just to be thorough.

That said, I did experience a couple random engine cut-off events long ago during a period of electrical gremlins causing random flickering lights, fluttering PRNDL display, random dash indicators/dings, and other electrical craziness... a topic often discussed on this forum. If you've had any such electrical craziness going on then I'd suggest tackling that as a possible resolution/precaution. Have not experienced any cut-offs (or other electrical craziness) since cleaning-up grounds, cleaning-up battery connections, and soldering battery cable crimp terminals to cables.

itsallgood's suggestion of the fuel pump also sounds plausible... IIRC, I did get stranded in a parking lot needing a fuel pump replacement at one point that may well have occurred during the time period of electrical gremlins... which lasted a couple of years as the dealer could not seem to resolve the issue. Did not connect the two different events at that time, but it makes sense now that itsallgood points it out.
Thanks for that. Yeah now that you mention gremlins. I had a rear view monitor/mirror installed and trailer hitch...maybe I should start there.
 

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75mph highway speed in 3rd gear might be your problem. If it was flat, even when towing, it would be okay to use overdrive. Transmission fluid could have gotten too hot, and computer sensed it and shut it down to protect itself. Just a theory, but torque converter lock-up is to help keep the transmission fluid cooler.
 

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After a quick run through my records:

Electrical gremlins started acting up at around 115,000 miles... dealer could not identify source.

Returned to dealer at around 119,000 miles complaining again about continuing gremlins and random engine shut-offs. Dealer unable to diagnose either.

Stranded in parking lot and towed to dealer at around 120,000 miles due to no-start situation... started just fine at dealer, dealer unable to reproduce and unable to find continuing gremlins.

Stranded at home and towed to dealer again around 145,000 miles... dealer claimed no cam signal, no crank signal, AND no fuel pressure... replaced all (cam sensor, crank sensor, and fuel pump) but still no gremlin fix. Pretty sure I got the shaft on that one. Also had them do a bunch of routine maintenance, including transmission service... all of which somehow introduced a light load "groaning" sound that still somewhat persists today, but that's another story. Of course, they still could not find the gremlins.

The ~145,000 mile mark dealer visit was pretty much the last time a dealer worked on it. I believe I did return around 147,000 miles complaining about the new "groaning" sound at low speed light load and the persistent gremlins, but they were "unable to reproduce" anything and absolutely certain nothing they did could have caused the groaning. Never took back to dealer again after that...

Got mad at this point and became determined to solve existing issues myself. Subsequently solved the gremlins with electrical fix-ups noted earlier and managed to minimize the groaning, which still does exist today at approximately 278,000 miles. On the up-side, I've not had another engine cut-out or no-start issue since the work at 145,000 miles.

Anyway, in hindsight, I'd say the random shut-offs were high probability of being the fuel pump and are in line with both your current mileage and itsallgood's fuel pump lifetime estimate... so I'd be looking hard at the fuel pump if I were you. For that matter, at 278,000 miles I might need to be looking out for round # 2 of the fuel pump blues myself... which makes me wonder if the pump might be related to my developing "pinging" problem!

And, just for the record, my van is a 2005 3.8L as well. I personally doubt the cam/crank sensors played into the issue (thinking they were unnecessarily replaced), but I guess that's another possible lead if the fuel pump turns out not to have been the issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
After a quick run through my records:

Electrical gremlins started acting up at around 115,000 miles... dealer could not identify source.

Returned to dealer at around 119,000 miles complaining again about continuing gremlins and random engine shut-offs. Dealer unable to diagnose either.

Stranded in parking lot and towed to dealer at around 120,000 miles due to no-start situation... started just fine at dealer, dealer unable to reproduce and unable to find continuing gremlins.

Stranded at home and towed to dealer again around 145,000 miles... dealer claimed no cam signal, no crank signal, AND no fuel pressure... replaced all (cam sensor, crank sensor, and fuel pump) but still no gremlin fix. Pretty sure I got the shaft on that one. Also had them do a bunch of routine maintenance, including transmission service... all of which somehow introduced a light load "groaning" sound that still somewhat persists today, but that's another story. Of course, they still could not find the gremlins.

The ~145,000 mile mark dealer visit was pretty much the last time a dealer worked on it. I believe I did return around 147,000 miles complaining about the new "groaning" sound at low speed light load and the persistent gremlins, but they were "unable to reproduce" anything and absolutely certain nothing they did could have caused the groaning. Never took back to dealer again after that...

Got mad at this point and became determined to solve existing issues myself. Subsequently solved the gremlins with electrical fix-ups noted earlier and managed to minimize the groaning, which still does exist today at approximately 278,000 miles. On the up-side, I've not had another engine cut-out or no-start issue since the work at 145,000 miles.

Anyway, in hindsight, I'd say the random shut-offs were high probability of being the fuel pump and are in line with both your current mileage and itsallgood's fuel pump lifetime estimate... so I'd be looking hard at the fuel pump if I were you. For that matter, at 278,000 miles I might need to be looking out for round # 2 of the fuel pump blues myself... which makes me wonder if the pump might be related to my developing "pinging" problem!
Thank you
 

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75mph highway speed in 3rd gear might be your problem. If it was flat, even when towing, it would be okay to use overdrive. Transmission fluid could have gotten too hot, and computer sensed it and shut it down to protect itself. Just a theory, but torque converter lock-up is to help keep the transmission fluid cooler.
I doubt that's the case.

The torque converter locks in 3rd gear as well as 4th, so it's unlikely that the trans was overheating. The trans actually drops back into 3rd when it's trying to protect itself.
 

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Did a test on my van (also a 3.8 so same gearing). Freeway speed of 75mph in 3rd gear, the engine is screaming at 3,300rpm. I can't see maintaining that for a whole trip and NOT having problems. Even my 84 Supra I once had, 5 speed and 4.30 rear gears on the freeway would still only be turning 2800rpm for comparison.
 

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Our 2002 3.8L AWD engine had problems ~14 years ago w/ randomly shutting off and sometimes stumbling bad. The stumbling was due to a burnt fuel injector harness at the exhaust cross-over, a common problem but I think the factory fixed that by your 2005. The other cut-offs were strange, and happened to me twice in a 20 mile test drive to work one morning. It seemed that wiggling the main engine harness correlated with the engine magically restarting, so I dug into it. With van on ramps to pull the harness down as much as possible, then pulled/cut off all the sheath and went thru every wire. Some were stuck together, so I separated them. I only found exposed copper one place, and might have been a nick from my (careful) cutting. I re-wrapped and no more problems until lately a few random "camshaft sensor" errors after my wife said it stumbled. I had replaced that sensor 2 years ago when I pulled off the timing cover.

Others have reported problems with corroded connectors underneath the fuse/relay box. Mine seem fine in California and I gooped them up well with silicone grease.

A few things I think which can disable the engine without triggering a code are:
No fuel pressure
Bad crankshaft sensor

Perhaps others can add to this list. Per the schematic, the crank and cam sensors share the same 8 VDC power source, so either bad might affect the other. While in-there, it seemed seemed that 8 V wire also branched forward from the main harness to what might be an air-bag system shock sensor box behind the front bumper, though the schematic didn't show that, so confused me.
 

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Back in 2015 I had a similar occurrence. Engine would sometimes cutout - tach needle would drop - and die at higway speeds. Sometimes it would continue running after the cutout while still at highway speeds with cruise control active.

Mine is a high mileage 3.3 3rd Gen but the systems are similar.

In my case it turned out to be a worn out timing chain. As engine load varied the "slop" was great enough at highway speeds to cause the cam and crank sensor to be temporarily out of phase. The engine would die as a result. It took a while to diagnose that one.

It is pretty simple to rotate the crank back and forth with a 15mm to feel if there is any "slop".

I changed the timing chain and the issue was resolved.

The worn timing chain. Previous owner did not change oil regularly.

 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Our 2002 3.8L AWD engine had problems ~14 years ago w/ randomly shutting off and sometimes stumbling bad. The stumbling was due to a burnt fuel injector harness at the exhaust cross-over, a common problem but I think the factory fixed that by your 2005. The other cut-offs were strange, and happened to me twice in a 20 mile test drive to work one morning. It seemed that wiggling the main engine harness correlated with the engine magically restarting, so I dug into it. With van on ramps to pull the harness down as much as possible, then pulled/cut off all the sheath and went thru every wire. Some were stuck together, so I separated them. I only found exposed copper one place, and might have been a nick from my (careful) cutting. I re-wrapped and no more problems until lately a few random "camshaft sensor" errors after my wife said it stumbled. I had replaced that sensor 2 years ago when I pulled off the timing cover.

Others have reported problems with corroded connectors underneath the fuse/relay box. Mine seem fine in California and I gooped them up well with silicone grease.

A few things I think which can disable the engine without triggering a code are:
No fuel pressure
Bad crankshaft sensor

Perhaps others can add to this list. Per the schematic, the crank and cam sensors share the same 8 VDC power source, so either bad might affect the other. While in-there, it seemed seemed that 8 V wire also branched forward from the main harness to what might be an air-bag system shock sensor box behind the front bumper, though the schematic didn't show that, so confused me.
Thanks I’ll check all that
 

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Did a test on my van (also a 3.8 so same gearing). Freeway speed of 75mph in 3rd gear, the engine is screaming at 3,300rpm. I can't see maintaining that for a whole trip and NOT having problems.
3,300 RPMs is far from "screaming", and won't hurt a thing. :rolleyes: For years, vehicles didn't even come with overdrive or lockup converters, and people drove them coast to coast without problems. Some were geared to try and compensate for it, but a lot weren't.

My old Dodge pickup turned at around 3,500+ RPMs at 75 MPH, and it didn't hurt a thing besides the fuel economy. My old Subaru GL with the 3 speed auto turned right at 4,000 RPMs at 70 MPH.:oops: The drone was annoying to listen to, but it didn't hurt it.
 

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I disagree, apples to oranges comparison. Older vehicles weren't meant to be driven at higher speeds at those rpms all the time, so you got lucky. Probably not computer controlled engines either. The Subaru has an opposed cylinder layout, which is better for higher revs. Someone once built an engine (Bourke) that could rev high reliably, and rev so high the ignition system couldn't keep up.

Shifting into 4th/OD the rpms settle around 2500 which is much better. I've read about people driving these vans in limp mode on the freeway and ruining the engine, so it does happen. Although, if they were able to do that it disproves that the computer would shut off the engine to save it. Must be something else.
 
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