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Q: Car starts fine, runs briefly, sputters and shuts off - 1994 Cadillac Fleetwood

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The car has gone around 170,000 miles. I have no problems starting the car. It is idling well too. However, when I'm driving and begin to accelerate to develop high speed, there would be some sputtering and complete shutoff. This happened to me the other day and I started the car back up immediately. The dashboard was showing the check engine light on. Now, when I start the car, it would shut off very shortly after. It would begin to sputter and few minutes later the dash lights would come on and the car turns off completely. I went to a few shops. I was tod this might be caused by a bad optispark distributor. Also, some bad fuel might cause this problem as well. I use Shell 93 octane. I was wondering if this could have something to do with a fuel pump maybe. Do you have any idea?

A: Hi! Yes, I have a couple thoughts for you t...

Hi! Yes, I have a couple thoughts for you to hopefully get your Cadillac back to being a reliable driver. From what you’ve said so far, I agree that the distributor and the fuel pump are high probability suspects. Now its time to have some diagnostic testing performed!

Both the fuel pump and distributor can be tested to determine if they are failing. A fuel pump test uses a pressure gauge to verify its ability to deliver correct pressure under various conditions. A distributor test will verify its ability to reliably switch the ignition coil on and off consistently , hot or cold. Additionally, the Check Engine Light is indicating that your vehicle’s own engine control module (ECM) is recognizing a problem and has some information to provide to a technician using a scan tool that will aid in the diagnostic process. It’s now time to have an experienced technician, such as one from YourMechanic, run some tests to diagnose the sputtering issue instead of saying, "maybe this, or maybe that". One or two good test results is worth twenty guesses, and prevents you from replacing expensive components that are not the cause.

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