I drive a 2001 Chevrolet Lumina and I was just wondering if someone here has had any experience like mine.

Today I was driving on the highway and then suddenly the car had turned itself off automatically, the steering wheel got harder to steer and the brake got pretty hard when stepping on it. I pulled over and then I shifted to Park. I then tried to turn the car back on and it worked. Then after like 20 minutes, again the same thing and then I had to turn it back on and 5 minutes later just getting home again the same thing. Any ideas what might be wrong with it?

There are some other things that might be related, if it’s not that would be a big coincidence:

Approximately 2 months ago I helped a guy to start his car and the guy connected the cables in the wrong order + and - the cables got pretty hot but then I put them right and that worked. About a day after that I got the VOLTS light on on my dashboard and the next day my car died on the highway just like it did today but that time I couldn't start it again or turn the radio on or anything, so I had to have it towed, the mechanic told me the problem was the alternator so he put an used one and then it started working again.

Two days ago all the lights (I mean the lights that supposed to be on at night) were off except for the headlights and then I checked the fuse box and one fuse was almost melted, I changed it and when I started the car I noticed that that fuse was getting pretty hot but it was working, and then I thought well, I'm going to leave it until the fuse bursts.

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    This sounds a lot like the notorious GM ignition switch defect that has been in the news, but I haven't found any source saying that the Lumina is affected. Anyway, you might check vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin (if you are in the US) to see if any recalls cover your vehicle. Jun 2, 2015 at 6:29
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    The starter safety switch works in both Park and Neutral, meaning that you can try to restart while coasting in your lane instead of wrestling it to a stop on the shoulder. If you really need the brakes and power steering back, you can shift into a lower gear (that's what the numbers are), which will cause the engine to be driven by the wheels. That provides resistance all by itself (which is useful on long downhills), in addition to recharging the brake booster and giving the engine an opportunity to "catch" again without using the starter. You should still get it fixed though.
    – AaronD
    Jun 3, 2015 at 22:09
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    @SaulOrtega: The only difference between Neutral and Park is whether there's a pin deployed to lock the wheels. No difference at all on the engine's side, so the safety switch allows you to run the starter in either position. Large vehicles like busses that have automatic transmissions don't even have Park, instead requiring a combination of Neutral and brake, which is usually okay because air brakes are normally locked solid until they're charged up.
    – AaronD
    Jun 3, 2015 at 22:56
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    Also, pretty much any automatic transmission is smart enough not to listen to an operator that tells it to go to 1st at 80MPH. It'll go down incrementally as far as it can while keeping the engine below redline. As you slow down, it'll shift again until you reach the gear you told it. If the highest gear you can get to intuitively is too low, then there might be a button to disable overdrive or something like that, which is the same as if the gear selector had one more position at the top end.
    – AaronD
    Jun 3, 2015 at 22:59
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    The reason to be paranoid about using brakes downhill is that the heat could build up to the point that it boils the brake fluid. Then you have compressible gas in the lines instead of incompressible liquid, and the pedal goes easily to the floor with little effect. Downshifting allows the engine to take most of the load of slowing you down while the brakes only have to deal with the details like following distance and tight curves, thus keeping them cooler and not likely to boil. The engine will speed up of course, which scares some people, but as long as it's below redline, it's okay.
    – AaronD
    Jun 3, 2015 at 23:05

3 Answers 3


I have experienced this and the first thing to check is the battery terminals for tightness. Open your hood, locate the battery and try to move the battery terminals. They should be tight and not move. Any movement is a sign of looseness which permits corrosion between the contacting surfaces. Get a wrench and tighten them.

The connector loosens up to the point where it may or may not contact the terminal properly and the engine dies. You stop to restart and of course the terminal has reseated and the car starts just fine.

I have experienced this with those awful side terminals that GM/Chevy seemed to love in the 90's (Don't know if they are still using them). Happened to me a few times on both a 95 Tahoe and a 2002 Express van.

And no, dont think your alternator can keep the car running. The battery supplies the alternator's armaturer with power for excitation. Without the battery, the alternator can not easily regulate itself which can cause damage. So either the alternator can't put out enough current or they shut down. And then your car dies.


Just so you guys know I found that the problem was that a fuse in the Engine Under Hood Fuse Box was almost melted due to temperature and rusted, so it wasn't getting proper contact with the slot it was placed.

Here's a photo of the actual fuse box: http://s28.postimg.org/9sjr1w3nx/s_l1600.jpg The fuses I'm talking about are the ones placed in Park LPS and HORN. I have had many problems before with these fuses that made me not be able to see the background lights in the dashboard at night.

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    Yeah, I'm pretty sure it wasn't melted due to engine heat. Remember that time you connected your jumper cables reverse polarity? You're so lucky it wasn't worse.
    – Nick G
    Mar 2, 2016 at 19:12
  • I wasn't that lucky, two days after that I had to replace the alternator.
    – VaTo
    Mar 2, 2016 at 19:55
  • @NickG And you are right, it didn't have to do with the engine heat. The fuse was getting hot for some other reason that I still don't know.
    – VaTo
    Mar 2, 2016 at 21:51
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    That was the point of my comment....the reason was the reversed jumper cables. Usually this causes MAJOR wiring problems or even this - functionalfitnessva.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/…
    – Nick G
    Mar 2, 2016 at 21:58
  • @NickG no, Im saying the jumper gets hot all the time, when the car is running, the last time I wanted to change it because it looked old and burned and I couldn't even touched it. I usually get a new one every once in a while when the jumper is so melted, my mechanic told me I need to get a new fuse box and I still haven't bought it.
    – VaTo
    Mar 3, 2016 at 1:47

Dont know if it is related, but had a similar incidence after I replaced my old battery with a new one. My car suddenly turned off while slowing down near a roundabout. I looked through web and found this link. Check the reply by "Uncle Scotty". Followed the instructions and its all good until now for me. Hope this helps for you as well.

The reason is once the battery is replaced, the memory in ECM is erased. I guess when you connected the cables in wrong order the battery got disconnected and reset the ECM. Please go through rest of the replies on that page to know the reason behind it.

Hope this helps.

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