Volvo automatic 850 fuel injection. car stalls unpredictably
The car drives normally without any symptoms of a problem, but without warning it can just stall. By engaging park position and restarting the ignition the motor will begin running again apparently normally, until the next time it stalls.
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I have a 1994 Volvo 850 that did the same thing. It was the fuel pump relay, a $50 part that is easy to replace yourself. It could also be the thermostat ($75) in the air flow box. Some people remove the bad thermostat and fix the air flow tube in the position with the air flow coming in from the front of the car. People say you can freeze your engine in winter if you live in a cold climate. It rarely gets cold where I live so it wasn't a problem for me. You do get better gas mileage without that thermostat. I ran my car without the thermostat for about a year and then put a new one in because I started having rough idling problems when the engine had not warmed up yet. The thermostat funnels in hot air from the manifold (?) until the engine warms up and then the spring in the thermostat closes off the tunnel with that hot air flow and opens up the tunnel with the cooler air flow coming in from the front of the car. If the thermostat quits working, the hot air keeps coming in and the engine shuts off after about 10 minutes of driving. The car will usually start right up after you wait a few minutes. These symptoms don't usually show any engine codes.
The reason is that , the fuel line is out of fuel, so the running for 3 seconds is just the use of the trapped fuel in the injector line, after which it will stop.
The solution is to on the ignition by turning the key without starting the ignition. this allows the fuel pump to release enough fuel into the fuel line and the injection system. Allow this for 5- 7 seconds, then start the car. It will run without interruption.
The fuel pump is the most common reason for stalling, but without some diagnosis, this is just a guess. The fuel pump relay may also be failing. You'll need to check the fuel pressure and power to the fuel pump when the car wont start to know for sure.