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

asked by on July 26, 2016

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.

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