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After driving about a mile with a cold engine, I lost power steering and all the dash lights came on (battery, oil, all the doors registered open, etc). I pulled off the road and turned the car off. I am sure the engine was still running, because it was uphill to where I pulled off from where the electrical failed.

When the tow truck arrived, we restarted the engine. It looked fine, but after a couple of minutes, the lights were on again. My dealer has it today and (thank you Murphy), my car has been running fine for the techs.

What might be causing this problem?

I have about 63k miles on the car and it was last checked out at the dealer in December.

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  • Ha ha! No, they didn't. They drove it around a for a couple of days and it never messed up for them. I put the car key on its own ring, to reduce any weight on the starter and it hasn't messed up for me, since, either. – Lorraine Apr 8 '15 at 14:58
  • If you've lost power steering the engine wasn't running. Also, all of the lights that came on are typical when the ignition is on but the engine isn't running. The inertia of a 2 ton vehicle is certainly enough to make it go uphill, so this doesn't give us any proof the engine was running. – Nick G Jun 4 '15 at 14:51
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I think it's solved: fuel injector relay. It died on me again. Again the dealer couldn't find a problem. When I came to pick it up, the lot attendant drove it up to the office from the parking lot where it had been sitting in the hot sun. When I went out to drive away, it wouldn't start. Went back to the service manager, who tried it, then called over a tech, "Chris, listen to this." They replaced the fuel injector relay and I haven't had any problems, since. Not even any of the behavior that was diagnosed as a "hot soak" problem. Been running fine since...late May/early June.

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This kind of behaviour could be explained by a serpentine belt which slips when the engine is under additional load (like when going uphill).

It would explain the symptoms described; if the belt doesn't spin, there will be no power steering assistance, and alternator charging will drop that will cause the battery light to turn on.

I faced a similar issue when the rubber dampener on my crank pulley gave out.


Possible culprits include:

  • lack of belt tension

    Check for a stretched belt or weak belt tensioner.

  • rotation of the engine not being transmitted to the belt

    Inspect the crank pulley.

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  • I think it's solved: fuel injector relay. It died on me again. Again the dealer couldn't find a problem. When I came to pick it up, the lot attendant drove it up to the office from the parking lot where it had been sitting in the hot sun. When I went out to drive away, it wouldn't start. Went back to the service manager, who tried it, then called over a tech, "Chris, listen to this." They replaced the fuel injector relay and I haven't had any problems, since. Not even any of the behavior that was diagnosed as a "hot soak" problem. Been running fine since...late May/early June. – Lorraine Aug 7 '15 at 23:06
  • @Lorraine Could you post the fix as an answer? Thanks – Zaid Aug 8 '15 at 2:00
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This question does not lend itself to ever having a specific answer. So the vague answer to your non pointed question is;

The root cause could be any number of things, including but not limited to;

  • The electrical system
  • The fuel system
  • Low cylinder compression
  • Operator error
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  • Thanks for the insight. I've had two other instances where the car just died, the most recent while I was on a freeway on-ramp.Taking it into the dealer again and we'll see. – Lorraine Jun 5 '15 at 6:31

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