Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Car shuts off - will start sometimes, but mostly not

asked by on

After arriving back from a long trip with good performance from my car (VT down to Florida), after one week in town, I was sitting at a red light and the car shut off. With help, we pushed it to the side and opened the hood to see if anything was visibly wrong. I lightly hit the engine with a hammer 3 to 4 times and it finally started.

It will start sometimes now, but most of the time it won’t start at all. It will wind but won’t turnover. A friend told me that the spark plugs might not be getting spark, so I was successful in changing the spark plugs and the wires. However, it did Not solve the problem. Still does the very same thing. Can you tell me what the real solution is to fix my car’s problem?

A common cause for an intermittent no start on the Volvo 850 and stalling is a failing main fuel relay. The contacts in this relay over time can burn, causing no fuel delivery and ultimately a stall and subsequent no start. This condition will worsen as the relay contacts degrade. Now the relay is a relatively inexpensive part to replace (if it hasn’t been replaced already), and it would be a good idea to replace the main relay as it is 10 years old.

If relay replacement does not correct the issue, or if you would like to have the relay and fuel system checked prior to replacing the relay, you may want to enlist the help of a mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, who will have the tools and expertise to diagnose the fuel delivery and ignition system and correct the stalling/no start issue.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Car overheating, low on water but no leaks

If you have a low coolant condition but there are no external leaks, then the engine is leaking internally. Only a pressure test can reveal where the coolant is leaking, too. The leak may be the head gasket leaking into...

Q: Code p0420

Hello. P0420 could be due to a variety of faults including even a fuel pump that is not supplying sufficient fuel, causing a lean condition, and hence "fooling" the O2 sensors (pre and post) as to the status (i.e., efficiency)...

Q: Odometer stopped working.

If the speedometer works and the odometer doesn't, it's probably a fault in the gauge cluster itself, like the small plastic gear that drives the odometer mechanism. Otherwise I would suspect the speed sensor on the transmission. Have a certified...

Related articles

How Do Power Car Windows Increase Passenger Safety?
Power windows are responsible for approximately 2,000 emergency room visits every year. When a power window closes, it exerts enough force to bruise or break bones, crush fingers, or restrict an airway. Though...
P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...