General Question

valdasta's avatar

My van starts up then stops: would this be electrical, fuel filter, fuel pump, or what?

Asked by valdasta (2094 points ) December 21st, 2010

I have a 98’ Chevy Express Van…When I start it, it cranks over, fires up, and runs for about four seconds then dies as if it is out of gas. What could be the problem? I will give you some history that may (or may not) lead to the problem. BTW: it does have gas in it and I also added some “dry gas” to the fuel in case it was caused by moisture in the tank.

History: I was having a problem with the ignition switch. I almost replaced the switch, but I have anti-theft (the part is more expensive) so I was going to try to bypass the switch and install a button, but I haven’t gotten there yet.
I cleaned the connections to my relay box…THIS proved to be the, and or, one of the problems. With the switch disconnected from the steering column, I was able to start the van using the switch (and key in the “run” position), but as I mentioned, the van will run then quit.

Any suggestions?

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13 Answers

tedd's avatar

How well is the van running for the 4 seconds it is running? If the timing is messed up you could be misfiring with your spark plugs badly enough that its causing the van to stall out. Could be an issue with your fuel line or pumps, maybe try holding the gas pedal down once its on (keeping it in park or neutral of course). Your alternator and battery should be fine if its got enough juice to turn on. If you’re getting the car to actually turn over and run its not the ignition, that has nothing to do with it once the cars on. What type of anti-theft device is it? If its one of the ones that stalls your car it could be getting tripped by being bypassed or something.

valdasta's avatar

@tedd the anti theft has something to do with the ignition switch because it comes with one more connection to the column than the regular.

How would i be able to tell if the car is telling itself to shut off? I don’t know if I can hook the ignition back up to the column because the key will not go past the run position to the start.

Sorry, this is hard to explain if you cannot see it yourself

valdasta's avatar

The van does not run rough.
Pumping or holding does not help.

JLeslie's avatar

I think spark plugs also. That was the problem on a car I had many years ago.

valdasta's avatar

I would take the van somewhere, but I am broke.

JLeslie's avatar

When I took the car to a mechanic who was recommended to me, he said my spark plugs looked very old. I had taken my car for a tune up just a few months before. He said it looked like the other mechanic did nothing. That my car had not been tuned up. He tuned my car, changed the spark plugs, and the problem was fixed. But, I am not automechanic. Just guessing.

valdasta's avatar

@JLeslie Tanks a latte!

ps. Go Sparty!

JLeslie's avatar

@valdasta we should have been given the Rosebowl!

tedd's avatar

The only way to really know if it was telling itself to turn off, is if you somehow disconnected the anti-theft device and then tested it, and it didn’t turn off anymore. Other than that I’m not really sure how else to check that. Did you say the van isn’t starting at all now?

It could be an anti-theft device that cuts power maybe? Since you’ve got your ignition apart and you have an anti-theft on the column that is the biggest red flag in my head. But I’ve never worked with one so honestly I’m not really sure. My next thought would be the spark plugs (since they’re dirt cheap and easy to change yourself), then the fuel system (pumps/lines primarily), then lastly your timing system (again though this is pending how the car is running. If its idling poorly that would be an indicator for this).

1alpha1's avatar

If it starts and stops you probably have some type of fuel problem.

filmfann's avatar

It sounds like fuel pump or fuel filter.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Fuel pump is connected to anti-theft switch also could electrical in general. Does the fuel gauge read correctly? ? ?
The fuel pump and gauge sending units wires maybe corroded.

valdasta's avatar

Thank you for the responses…I haven’t had access to the internet. Rats!

BTW – the van still is not running. I’ve been busy.

@JLeslie I am glad I couldn’t watch the game.

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