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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2002 Dodge Grand caravan 3.3 179.XXX miles

I previously posted about this van stalling during long drives. On that thread it was mentioned to replace the crankshaft position sensor. To which I have done. I used an aftermarket one from Autozone and there has been no change. I have not took the van on any long drives but I'm sure it will do the same thing.

Each time the van is driven extensively during hot weather; the engine will sputter and shake (like its running out of gas) and then stall out. But here is the kicker - the van will restart and sputter back out then stall. After 2-3 attempts to restart the van will crank BUT NOT START. after allowing the van to cooler for 45 minutes to an hour the van will RESTART AND DRIVE PERFECTLY.

There is no CEL and no stored codes at this time.

I have replaced the following over the last two years:
Fuel pump and filter (Delphi fuel pump)
Map sensor
Battery terminals
IAC valve
Coil pack
Fuel Injector wiring harness
Plugs and wires
Intake manifold gasket
Repaired all leaks in the EVAP system
Crank position sensor

Here is what I know:
-The van only stalls when the brakes are applied (like coming to a red light or stop sign).
-The van temp DOES NOT GO UP when it stalls. It is normal operating temperature.
-There is no EGR on this van it has the delete plate on the intake but there is a wiring connector where one would go.
-The van runs perfectly fine and has plenty of power l before the stalling. (Which leads me to believe it is not the fuel pump.)
-Only occurs during HOT weather when the AC is running and the engine has been running for extensive amounts of time.
-After stalling the van will start and then die again. This will continue 2-3 times and then the van will ONLY CRANK and not start.
-After 45 minutes to an hour, once the engine has cooled it will restart and drive perfectly. Like nothing is wrong.
-No CEL no stored codes

I have not replaced the camshaft position sensor, but its next on the list. Becuase the problem is intermittent I'm not inclined to take it anywhere because I'm 100% sure I'll get the usual, "We can't find anything wrong with it." I have been working on cars for about 10 years and have plenty on experience but this van is throwing me for a loop. It has also become a safety issue because of the stalling.
 

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Drivin' Maniac
2002 Grand Caravan ES 3.8L
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Have you inspected the injector wire harness?

Unless you took some steps to insulate it, the insulation could be melted, AGAIN.

++++++++++

Stalls when stepping on brake: vacuum leak?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your reply!

I wrapped the new harness in an insane amount of electrical tape and put a wire cover over it. Also I have smoke tested the engine the last time this happened and found a cracked PCV valve, which I replaced. Still no change. There were no other leaks anyehere.
 

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The fact that it restarts and runs briefly is interesting. If it was a hard failure because of heat, it would not restart until it had cooled.

Battery going bad? We've had batteries fail in extreme heat, and the high underhood heat in these vans kills them (at least shortens their lifespan by a few years). Chrysler had even addressed this problem in 2001 with a plastic battery heat shield/wall between battery tray and engine, then deleted it in 2002 because of cost-cutting measures.

I'd bring a voltmeter along and read voltages. Sounds like the alternator may be failing as it gets hot and doesn't produce enough charge, then electrical craps out and stalls the van. The battery may have enough reserve initially to restart, but can only run it for a few seconds before dropping the voltage past threshhold and stalling out again, then continued cranking keeps the voltage too low to run electrical. When left for a while, the battery picks up a little reserve charge again and the alternator cools off, allowing it to charge for a while again.

ASD relay? If the fuel pump still runs/primes when restarting and engine doesn't run, then that's not it.

Hope you kept your original crank sensor. That autozone one will only last a year or so. My sister went through that with her Jeep. It would stall out, and sometimes restart at first; after a while she'd have to wait for it to cool down to restart. When it would stall it was like shutting it off, no stumble or rough running. The shop replaced the crank sensor with an autozone one, and it lasted a year until it started doing the same thing again. Then I replaced it with a Standard from NAPA, and that lasted a couple years until the Jeep was too broken down to drive (water pump, tires, rust).
 

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2013 Dodge Grand Caravan
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Sounds like you've tried everything I would think of aside from a TCC issue or saturated EVAP canister. Will it stall if you drive with the purge valve port capped off?
 

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The fact that it restarts and runs briefly is interesting. If it was a hard failure because of heat, it would not restart until it had cooled.

Battery going bad? We've had batteries fail in extreme heat, and the high underhood heat in these vans kills them (at least shortens their lifespan by a few years). Chrysler had even addressed this problem in 2001 with a plastic battery heat shield/wall between battery tray and engine, then deleted it in 2002 because of cost-cutting measures.
If it was a battery problem then it wouldn't crank over. BUT it does sound like some kind of electrical issue. If it was a Crank or TDC sensor then I'd expect misfiring as it stalls, mebbe including backfires. I had a TDC sensor fail when hot on a Renault Medallion (yup, years old!). Let it cool and away you go as if nothing happened. Still I couldn't predict if or when it would fail. I eventually bought a new sensor and intended to install it when I got home after a cross country trip. It gave up the ghost entirely on I-80 in the middle of the prairies ... I coasted onto an offramp, down the ramp and pulled off onto a nice flat spot at the end of the ramp. Wouldn't restart this time, so I bit the bullet, got the tools out and the new sensor. The car was positioned perfectly for the sun to shine straight into the very spot I had to work. Pure chance! Burnt knuckles and about half an hour later, I was up and running ... drove on a nearby road to the next interchange and got back on I-80 and continued my journey. Similarly, no CEL ... just wouldn't go.
 

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Torque converter issue, maybe not coming out of lockup. It happened to me on a 1986 Pontiac. On that vehicle, I was able to disconnect the torque converter clutch by pulling a plug. Never did fix it, and it ran much better without the lockup.

When it won't restart, try using starting fluid.
 

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3rd Gen Plebeian
1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager Rallye
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There are really only a few items that your van needs to start and run. The start up sequence is as follows:

  • Key in ignition, turned to Run/Start
  • ASD and Fuel pump relay switch on
  • PCM reads coolant and intake Temp breifly, the Map sensor, none of these are critical to start though. It will still start fine if any of these sensors is bad, the PCM will just revert fuel/timing to a default value.
  • Engine begins cranking
  • PCM reads Crankshaft Position sensor
  • After aquiring CKP signal, PCM reads Camshaft position sensor to determine timing.
  • The engine primes (batchfire squirts the injectors) for cold/hot start.
  • The engine begins firing the injectors sequentially, and firing the ignition coils.

*** If valid/logical Crankshaft and Camshaft Position Sensor signals are not detected and matched up within two seconds, the PCM will kill power to the ASD Relay and Fuel Pump Relay.


Font Material property Screenshot Publication Document



There is one electromechanical component type within an engine that is highly sensitive to either heat or vibration, and that is a coil. The ignition coils, crankshaft position sensor, camshaft position sensor, and fuel pump are all coils, components that are critical to start, and they're also highly susceptible to intermittent failure due to heat or vibration. Usually, you can kick a fuel tank to get a fuel pump to start again, and they do heat up as they run. Cam/crank sensors and ignition coils quite often stop working when hot, then magically start working when they coil.

Further conjecture, you probably have 3 separate ignition coils fused into a single assembly that batch/wasted-spark fire like the third gen V6. If it was the Mitsu 3.0 then the single coil could cause this. But realistically, since you actually have three coils, the coil isn't the problem since they'd have to intermittently fail in unison.
Fuel pump is a possible culprit, it'd be easy to test it by loosening the fuel line somewhere to see if it sprays while the van is failed, or by kicking the fuel tank violently. It is absolutely necessary to run, they often fail intermittently, and it's conceivable that the fuel pump could heat soak to cause it's shutdown once it gets warm. There's also the fact that pressure could build/sit in the fuel line to cause a brief start like you describe before total failure.

The cam and crank signals are what I think are the most likely cause. Both are induction coils, bolted directly to hot surfaces. Often, they fail when they're hot and magically work again once they cool down. There are six diagnostic codes for the cam or crank failing, only one of them will illuminate the check engine light, and some of them are invisible to scanner tools other than a DRBIII tool IIRC. P0340 is the only one of these six that illuminates a check engine lights, denoted by the (M) next to the code. Otherwise, if you had a failed cam or crank sensor, you'd have no indication other than no start.
Font Material property Rectangle Parallel Number

Rectangle Material property Font Parallel Pattern


There are several codes for the Fuel pump relay, and several codes for the ASD Relay. If the ignition modules failed, I would think there'd be some misfire codes.


Most of the CEL codes don't actually light up the CEL, but will still store a code that can be read with a scanner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The fact that it restarts and runs briefly is interesting. If it was a hard failure because of heat, it would not restart until it had cooled.

Battery going bad? We've had batteries fail in extreme heat, and the high underhood heat in these vans kills them (at least shortens their lifespan by a few years). Chrysler had even addressed this problem in 2001 with a plastic battery heat shield/wall between battery tray and engine, then deleted it in 2002 because of cost-cutting measures.

I'd bring a voltmeter along and read voltages. Sounds like the alternator may be failing as it gets hot and doesn't produce enough charge, then electrical craps out and stalls the van. The battery may have enough reserve initially to restart, but can only run it for a few seconds before dropping the voltage past threshhold and stalling out again, then continued cranking keeps the voltage too low to run electrical. When left for a while, the battery picks up a little reserve charge again and the alternator cools off, allowing it to charge for a while again.

ASD relay? If the fuel pump still runs/primes when restarting and engine doesn't run, then that's not it.

Hope you kept your original crank sensor. That autozone one will only last a year or so. My sister went through that with her Jeep. It would stall out, and sometimes restart at first; after a while she'd have to wait for it to cool down to restart. When it would stall it was like shutting it off, no stumble or rough running. The shop replaced the crank sensor with an autozone one, and it lasted a year until it started doing the same thing again. Then I replaced it with a Standard from NAPA, and that lasted a couple years until the Jeep was too broken down to drive (water pump, tires, rust).
The fact that it restarts and runs briefly is interesting. If it was a hard failure because of heat, it would not restart until it had cooled.

Battery going bad? We've had batteries fail in extreme heat, and the high underhood heat in these vans kills them (at least shortens their lifespan by a few years). Chrysler had even addressed this problem in 2001 with a plastic battery heat shield/wall between battery tray and engine, then deleted it in 2002 because of cost-cutting measures.

I'd bring a voltmeter along and read voltages. Sounds like the alternator may be failing as it gets hot and doesn't produce enough charge, then electrical craps out and stalls the van. The battery may have enough reserve initially to restart, but can only run it for a few seconds before dropping the voltage past threshhold and stalling out again, then continued cranking keeps the voltage too low to run electrical. When left for a while, the battery picks up a little reserve charge again and the alternator cools off, allowing it to charge for a while again.

ASD relay? If the fuel pump still runs/primes when restarting and engine doesn't run, then that's not it.

Hope you kept your original crank sensor. That autozone one will only last a year or so. My sister went through that with her Jeep. It would stall out, and sometimes restart at first; after a while she'd have to wait for it to cool down to restart. When it would stall it was like shutting it off, no stumble or rough running. The shop replaced the crank sensor with an autozone one, and it lasted a year until it started doing the same thing again. Then I replaced it with a Standard from NAPA, and that lasted a couple years until the Jeep was too broken down to drive (water pump, tires, rust).
The battery is a Duracell from Sam's club less than 3 months old. Voltage is good at 14.5 while engine is running. Also, had the alternator tested at about a year ago and it was good. This problem has been going on for longer than that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
There are really only a few items that your van needs to start and run. The start up sequence is as follows:

  • Key in ignition, turned to Run/Start
  • ASD and Fuel pump relay switch on
  • PCM reads coolant and intake Temp breifly, the Map sensor, none of these are critical to start though. It will still start fine if any of these sensors is bad, the PCM will just revert fuel/timing to a default value.
  • Engine begins cranking
  • PCM reads Crankshaft Position sensor
  • After aquiring CKP signal, PCM reads Camshaft position sensor to determine timing.
  • The engine primes (batchfire squirts the injectors) for cold/hot start.
  • The engine begins firing the injectors sequentially, and firing the ignition coils.

*** If valid/logical Crankshaft and Camshaft Position Sensor signals are not detected and matched up within two seconds, the PCM will kill power to the ASD Relay and Fuel Pump Relay.


View attachment 66782


There is one electromechanical component type within an engine that is highly sensitive to either heat or vibration, and that is a coil. The ignition coils, crankshaft position sensor, camshaft position sensor, and fuel pump are all coils, components that are critical to start, and they're also highly susceptible to intermittent failure due to heat or vibration. Usually, you can kick a fuel tank to get a fuel pump to start again, and they do heat up as they run. Cam/crank sensors and ignition coils quite often stop working when hot, then magically start working when they coil.

Further conjecture, you probably have 3 separate ignition coils fused into a single assembly that batch/wasted-spark fire like the third gen V6. If it was the Mitsu 3.0 then the single coil could cause this. But realistically, since you actually have three coils, the coil isn't the problem since they'd have to intermittently fail in unison.
Fuel pump is a possible culprit, it'd be easy to test it by loosening the fuel line somewhere to see if it sprays while the van is failed, or by kicking the fuel tank violently. It is absolutely necessary to run, they often fail intermittently, and it's conceivable that the fuel pump could heat soak to cause it's shutdown once it gets warm. There's also the fact that pressure could build/sit in the fuel line to cause a brief start like you describe before total failure.

The cam and crank signals are what I think are the most likely cause. Both are induction coils, bolted directly to hot surfaces. Often, they fail when they're hot and magically work again once they cool down. There are six diagnostic codes for the cam or crank failing, only one of them will illuminate the check engine light, and some of them are invisible to scanner tools other than a DRBIII tool IIRC. P0340 is the only one of these six that illuminates a check engine lights, denoted by the (M) next to the code. Otherwise, if you had a failed cam or crank sensor, you'd have no indication other than no start.
View attachment 66783
View attachment 66779

There are several codes for the Fuel pump relay, and several codes for the ASD Relay. If the ignition modules failed, I would think there'd be some misfire codes.


Most of the CEL codes don't actually light up the CEL, but will still store a code that can be read with a scanner.
I am going after the camshaft position sensor next. I order a Mopar off Ebay as well as a Mopar crankshaft position sensor. Thanks for your detailed reply!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Torque converter issue, maybe not coming out of lockup. It happened to me on a 1986 Pontiac. On that vehicle, I was able to disconnect the torque converter clutch by pulling a plug. Never did fix it, and it ran much better without the lockup.

When it won't restart, try using starting fluid.
The transmission was completely rebuilt in 2020 with all updated hardware.
 

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Perhaps I overlooked it but I haven't seen very much in the way of diagnosis being attempted here only a lot of guessing. Just because there are no DTCs doesn't mean to simply start throwing parts at the problem. Now, it's your vehicle, money and time. You are free to pursue things whatever way you wish. However, I prefer to determine what is broken and fix that instead of wasting my time doing unneeded work and unnecessarily enriching the auto parts store. You can call me crazy but that's just the way I roll.

Gas engines still work the same way as they always have. Compression, fuel and spark at the correct time are required. One of those is occasionally missing here. Which one is it?

Hint: compression (in the way it might relate to this problem) is rarely intermittent so one can probably eliminate that as a cause.
 

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3rd Gen Plebeian
1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager Rallye
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Also, try going to neutral before coming to a stop.
It will crank but not start, that probably eliminates the transmission or torque converter being locked up as the culprit. The only super strange, freak occurrence I can think of related to the transmission, would be if the thrust bearings were somehow severely worn and the crankshaft could slip fore/aft far enough for the CKP sensor to not get good signals. But, I haven't heard of that ever happening, and it'd have to be heat related and I don't see how that could be possible.
 
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Fuel pumps don't often fail intermittently; it's usually a hard failure. Mine failed while driving, with almost a full tank of gas, at 219,000 miles. My sister's 97 failed at 236,000 miles, but she had a habit of running on the bottom half of the tank. She had to get hers towed to a shop, and mine would come back and keep running as long as I kept kicking the bottom of my tank, so it got towed to the next town and I replaced it.

These pumps are CONSTANTLY surrounded in cool fuel, as the plastic housing the pump sits inside is a reservoir filled with the fuel that the pressure regulator bleeds off. It is filled and spills out of the top, so even with an empty tank there is still fuel in it. I do not think the fuel pump is the problem here, especially with that low of miles on a factory fuel pump.

An engine can still crank and not have enough voltage to fire the engine. That kind of test is inconclusive. You need to measure voltage while cranking; anything under 9.6 volts and the engine is more likely to not run.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Perhaps I overlooked it but I haven't seen very much in the way of diagnosis being attempted here only a lot of guessing. Just because there are no DTCs doesn't mean to simply start throwing parts at the problem. Now, it's your vehicle, money and time. You are free to pursue things whatever way you wish. However, I prefer to determine what is broken and fix that instead of wasting my time doing unneeded work and unnecessarily enriching the auto parts store. You can call me crazy but that's just the way I roll.

Gas engines still work the same way as they always have. Compression, fuel and spark at the correct time are required. One of those is occasionally missing here. Which one is it?

Hint: compression (in the way it might relate to this problem) is rarely intermittent so one can probably eliminate that as a cause.
The van was severely under-maintained when I bought it in 2018. The trans was completely shot and I managed to buy it from my neighbor for $500. All of the parts thus far were replaced becuase they were in non-working condition or simply worn out. There are many more parts that were replaced that were not listed above becuase I thought it was irrelevant to the problem listed in the post. After purchasing the van I took it to a transmission shop where the trans was completely rebuilt. It shifts perfectly now and does not have any leaks. I replaced the plugs, wires, intake manifold gasket, valve cover gaskets (front and rear), as well as the exhaust manifold gaskets (front and rear) and the oil adapter gasket becuase they were leaking or as part of regular maintenance. The rear exhaust manifold gasket was fun to do lol.

As far as troubleshooting the current "stalling was hot" issue I have attempted to troubleshoot as many things that correlate to the current problem as possible. This includes back-probing the MAP sensor, IAC valve to check for correct operating voltage and signal from the ECM. Checking the fuel injector wiring harness (which was slightly melted) and replacing it. I have checked voltage at the terminals, at the alternator, and while cranking. All were at spec. I also removed the alternator and took it to a auto store where it tested "good". The starter was replaced when the old one went out.

The fuel pump was replaced right after the trans was rebuilt with a cheap Ebay one (lesson learned) that immediately went out after only three months. I than replaced that one with a $200 Delphi fuel pump. I spliced in a fuel pressure guage since this was did not come with a test port and left it connected for about three weeks examining the fuel pressures- which were all good. The Delphi pump is pretty loud and you can hear it prime inside the van when you turn the key. You can also hear a slight whining/humming if you crawl down by the rear tire.

I have smoke tested the intake/vacuum lines with a DIY smoke machine and replaced a leaking PCV valve.

The van only stalls after running (in hot weather) for extended periods of time. Or idling in hot weather for extended periods of time. This occurred about a year ago after driving for several hours at highway speeds. Right when we got to our destination and to a red light the van started misfiring, jerking, and bucking and then stalled. It would crank right up and then stall again. After leaving the van in a parking lot over night it fired right back up like nothing ever happened. We also drove it all the way home (around 300 miles) and it only started to misfire right when we got onto the off ramp at our exit. It did make it all the way back home though. I assumed the fuel pump had went out again but after checking fuel pressure when we got home they were within spec.

About a week ago my wife to the van out to run some errands. After driving around and visiting several different stores she came to a red light where the van "Started jerking and bucking and then the steering wheel got hard to turn." Indicating the engine had stalled. She was able to "coast" into a nearby store and attempted to pull into a parking a parking spot. When she restarted the van it learched forward and she also ran into the parking hub.

We left the van to cool for approximately four hours and then I went to pick it up. When I first got it I turned the key and could hear the fuel pump prime. I started the van and it started perfectly. No hard start, no wired noises, nothing. I drove it home with absolutely no problems. Since then, the van has been driven three to four times without issue. It starts great and drives great no problems. Until it is driven for a long time. In hot weather.

It has only happened ONE TIME when I was actually in the van. All other times my wife was driving and I was not with her - since it is her van. I have had a fuel pump got out on my car and it seems like to me that the fuel to the engine is being disrupted. Similar to when you turn the fuel flow off to a riding mower engine WHILE ITS RUNNING. You can hear when the fuel making the engine surge several times then shut off. The question is WHY ONLY WHEN ITS HOT am I getting a disruption to the fuel supply? If it was the fuel pump I would think it would be all the time AND it would have low power when you press the gas.

To me it seems a SENSOR is getting hot (malfunctioning) and the ecm is using the ASD relay to shut the fuel pump off and after the sensor cools the fuel pump is allowed to run normal again. As far as troubleshooting, that's about as good as I can personally do to narrow it down. I've replaced the crank position sensor with one from Autozone and the cam position sensor has never been replaced to my knowledge. I ordered both genuine Mopar parts on Ebay. I will install them both when they come in and see if the new sensors correct the problem.
 

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1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager Rallye
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The van was severely under-maintained when I bought it in 2018. The trans was completely shot and I managed to buy it from my neighbor for $500. All of the parts thus far were replaced becuase they were in non-working condition or simply worn out. There are many more parts that were replaced that were not listed above becuase I thought it was irrelevant to the problem listed in the post. After purchasing the van I took it to a transmission shop where the trans was completely rebuilt. It shifts perfectly now and does not have any leaks. I replaced the plugs, wires, intake manifold gasket, valve cover gaskets (front and rear), as well as the exhaust manifold gaskets (front and rear) and the oil adapter gasket becuase they were leaking or as part of regular maintenance. The rear exhaust manifold gasket was fun to do lol.

As far as troubleshooting the current "stalling was hot" issue I have attempted to troubleshoot as many things that correlate to the current problem as possible. This includes back-probing the MAP sensor, IAC valve to check for correct operating voltage and signal from the ECM. Checking the fuel injector wiring harness (which was slightly melted) and replacing it. I have checked voltage at the terminals, at the alternator, and while cranking. All were at spec. I also removed the alternator and took it to a auto store where it tested "good". The starter was replaced when the old one went out.

The fuel pump was replaced right after the trans was rebuilt with a cheap Ebay one (lesson learned) that immediately went out after only three months. I than replaced that one with a $200 Delphi fuel pump. I spliced in a fuel pressure guage since this was did not come with a test port and left it connected for about three weeks examining the fuel pressures- which were all good. The Delphi pump is pretty loud and you can hear it prime inside the van when you turn the key. You can also hear a slight whining/humming if you crawl down by the rear tire.

I have smoke tested the intake/vacuum lines with a DIY smoke machine and replaced a leaking PCV valve.

The van only stalls after running (in hot weather) for extended periods of time. Or idling in hot weather for extended periods of time. This occurred about a year ago after driving for several hours at highway speeds. Right when we got to our destination and to a red light the van started misfiring, jerking, and bucking and then stalled. It would crank right up and then stall again. After leaving the van in a parking lot over night it fired right back up like nothing ever happened. We also drove it all the way home (around 300 miles) and it only started to misfire right when we got onto the off ramp at our exit. It did make it all the way back home though. I assumed the fuel pump had went out again but after checking fuel pressure when we got home they were within spec.

About a week ago my wife to the van out to run some errands. After driving around and visiting several different stores she came to a red light where the van "Started jerking and bucking and then the steering wheel got hard to turn." Indicating the engine had stalled. She was able to "coast" into a nearby store and attempted to pull into a parking a parking spot. When she restarted the van it learched forward and she also ran into the parking hub.

We left the van to cool for approximately four hours and then I went to pick it up. When I first got it I turned the key and could hear the fuel pump prime. I started the van and it started perfectly. No hard start, no wired noises, nothing. I drove it home with absolutely no problems. Since then, the van has been driven three to four times without issue. It starts great and drives great no problems. Until it is driven for a long time. In hot weather.

It has only happened ONE TIME when I was actually in the van. All other times my wife was driving and I was not with her - since it is her van. I have had a fuel pump got out on my car and it seems like to me that the fuel to the engine is being disrupted. Similar to when you turn the fuel flow off to a riding mower engine WHILE ITS RUNNING. You can hear when the fuel making the engine surge several times then shut off. The question is WHY ONLY WHEN ITS HOT am I getting a disruption to the fuel supply? If it was the fuel pump I would think it would be all the time AND it would have low power when you press the gas.

To me it seems a SENSOR is getting hot (malfunctioning) and the ecm is using the ASD relay to shut the fuel pump off and after the sensor cools the fuel pump is allowed to run normal again. As far as troubleshooting, that's about as good as I can personally do to narrow it down. I've replaced the crank position sensor with one from Autozone and the cam position sensor has never been replaced to my knowledge. I ordered both genuine Mopar parts on Ebay. I will install them both when they come in and see if the new sensors correct the problem.
I'm an industrial mechanic, the number one thing to being a mechanic is diagnosing. Most of the equipment that I work on are self driving forklifts, automated cranes, 4 axis arms that stack/unstack pallets, and 6 axis arms that can drive into trailers and load unload dead stacked boxes. I don't fully know how any of these robots work, definitely not to the degree that I understand cars. But, I don't need to know to diagnose it, which leads me to the problem so I can fix it.

You should always look at:
  • what is the machine not doing that it should
  • what does the machine need to do this
  • how do I divide the possible cause in half by process of elimination.

You could start at the fuel tank, or start at the battery. That'd be pretty thorough, but it's not the best way to diagnose.

Instead, you have "cranks but won't start", there's our problem, somehow it isn't getting combustion. What does the van need to get combustion? It needs fuel, spark, and compression. Now we can start elimination to find the root cause.

Easiest diagnostic step in this situation on cars, is to spray a flammable liquid through the intake. Starting fluid, carb cleaner, none clorinated brake cleaner fluid, even an ounce of gasoline. This can immediately eliminate half the possible causes on a vehicle. If the engine coughs and sputters to life breifly on some flammable liquid sprayed through the TB butterfly valve, then we know the ignition system is good and the engine needs fuel, so we can look at the fuel pump or injectors. If it still doesn't start, we likely have an ignition system issue, though possibly a computer issue too.

If your van doesn't on flammable liquid, the next step is to pull a spark plug wire or connect a noid light to a fuel injector, and see if they are firing normally.
 

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...
About a week ago my wife to the van out to run some errands. After driving around and visiting several different stores she came to a red light where the van "Started jerking and bucking and then the steering wheel got hard to turn." Indicating the engine had stalled. She was able to "coast" into a nearby store and attempted to pull into a parking a parking spot. When she restarted the van it learched forward and she also ran into the parking hub.
...
Sounds like a seized torque converter. Only confusing thing is you said it happens just idling too.
 
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