Question about 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier

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Wouldn't stay running when put in gear.

I was having trouble with the cavalier dying as soon as I put in gear. I thought it was a vacuum problem but found no bad hoses. While working on the vacuum hoses I noticed that if I moved the wires attached to the side of the throttle body the car would die. It started just fine and idle great. I messed with the wires and found that there was a small plug with three wires attached that seem to be the trouble. I thought I would unplug this connection and try to start the car. That caused a new problem, the car started fine but now the cooling fan runs all the time and it won't shift right and won't down shift at all when driving until you come to a stop. This is still the trouble even after I re-hooked up the plug. Now this is the trouble and the check engine light and the ETS light stays on. Any ideas!!

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  • nikki50047 Dec 06, 2008

    My daughter recently purchased a 95 cavalier with, what I believe, may have been the same problem. It died when put in gear only when the engine was hot. For the first 20 minutes or so on the road, it ran fine.
    I took it to a mechanic who told me it was a bad valve in the torque converter in the transmission and quoted her $1,000 to replace the transmission. After some investigation, I discovered that you can bypass the problem by simply unplugging it from the tranny. Though, the gas mileage on the highway isn't as good as it was, this immediately and permanently stopped the problem.
    Google cavalier torque converter for more detailed info.


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When you unplugged the Throttle Position Sensor you made the computer go into panic mode and try to compensate for the loss. The fan might be thinking your engine is idling so it needs more fan. Even after plugging it in it probably will ignore it. I would try removing, without zapping yourself, the positive cable off your battery and let it sit for a bit to reset it's internal memory. If that don't work you might need a dealer to do the reset or it means the sensor was going and is now gone. Hope that helps.

Posted on Jan 05, 2009

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2 Answers

Only wants to stay running at high rpm' s put in gear it dies .smells like its getting to much gas,


try to choke air at carburetor a little bit until it stall if rpm go up or running better then you have a vacuum leak ,or carburetor rebuild
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Stalls when turn lights on or hit brakes


Check the plugs to make sure they aren't fouled. Then maybe the fuel pump. If it dies when you hit the brakes, that's electrical. I'd say it's the fuel pump, filter, etc.
When plugs are fouled, it probably wouldn't want to start, and brakes aren't electrical and the fuel pump isn't real likely either.
Actually when you step on the brakes, it takes power from the battery or alternator to run the pump for the master cylinder on the brakes. (not true)
Doing so will cause your car to stall if the idle is too low. Turn the idle up and see if it happens again.
Same thing with the in gear driving. Putting the car in gear will drop the rpm to half or less than what it is already.
The brakes have no pump. If they are power brakes, then it has a booster (and the booster uses engine vacuum, not electrical power) you can't adjust the idle speed in a FIed car. When you put the car in gear, the rpm should stay steady since the FI system should adjust for loads on the engine (turning the a/c on, putting car in gear, turning on lights etc) Do a tune up and go from there. By the sounds of it though, this is a lock-up torque convertor problem. The convertor lock is stuck on so the torque convertor is "solid" when you put it in gear.
If it is not an engine problem, it should be a problem with the transmission. When the gearshift is in drive, in this case, the gears get jammed with each other, causing the whole engine/drivetrain to lock up, stalling the engine. You should get a repair as soon as possible.
Either your power brake assist booster has a bad check valve in it causing a huge vacuum leak when you step on the brake (Vacuum leaks lean out the fuel/air mixture causing stalling) or you have an 'engine protect' sensor that kills the ignition/fuel pump when the oil level's too low and it's either got crud in it from running the oil too low or has otherwise malfunctioned

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Try pulling the vacuum line off of the EGR valve when the engine is warm and starts to sputter. If it runs good cold and then dies when warm and won't start again until the engine cools it is most likely a bad or sticking EGR valve. Try the procedure to confirm it is the EGR. You can check the internet for location and an image of the EGR valve for your specific car. Please rate me on this answer.

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1 Answer

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