My Grand Am is cutting off randomly while driving. I have not been able to purposely reproduce the problem, which makes diagnosis difficult. I am looking for any advice in diagnostics, or parts to test first.

The car will run normally 99% of the time. Without warning, the electrical cuts out and the engine stalls. This has happened at low speed and highway speed, while turning or while going straight down the road. There are no engine error codes, no dash warning lights, and no other indication of what occurred.

After each incident, the car can usually be restarted immediately. Twice, I got a single "click" and no start -- turning the key off and trying again started the car in both of those occasions.

It has been suggested that I check the wiring harness, which I have done by aggressively wiggling and pulling on various engine connections and wires while the car is running -- no results. It has also been suggested that the crankshaft position sensor is faulty or the harness is damaged. Visually, there are no problems with the harness.

The car is not equipped with any remote starter, and does not have any after-market security systems. The stock security system is what I gather to be the most basic one. The security light has never lit, and I am not certain that it CAN light (not used?)

In summary: What should I be checking? Is the crankshaft position sensor a likely candidate here for the problem? I don't want to invest in parts and labor if there's no possible way this is the issue.

  • Have you checked for a loose battery connection? This would cause your click while trying to start.
    – mikes
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 11:24
  • A CKP sensor fault would kill the engine depending on whether ignition/fuel timing is based on CKP or CMP, but not the ignition.
    – Ben
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 23:48

1 Answer 1


I remember this issue fondly from my Dad's old Grand Am! It would randomly start to lose power while driving (electrical would act like it was at reduced power, engine would start to cut out). A couple times it shut off completely on us and we coasted to a stop before getting it to restart. In our case the fix was a new ignition switch...

  • Suggested edit: put the "sounds a bad ignition switch" at the top - otherwise I'm going to see complaints about your anecdote and that it's "not an answer!!@111" ;-)
    – Bob Cross
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 16:09
  • 1
    I'm not complaining, and I think that anyone who does deserves to live their life in frustration for their lack of willingness to read a paragraph. They ought to be used to it by now.
    – Chris
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 18:03
  • I left the possible solution at the end so that I could list the symptoms in common first. Reason being that it's such an odd failure. I was in stunned disbelief when the mechanic finally found the issue with the ignition switch. Didn't want to get complaints about "oh you didn't really read the question"... ;-) Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 19:05

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