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Thread: '05 Cavalier engine dies when at idle, in gear, and foot on brake

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    '05 Cavalier engine dies when at idle, in gear, and foot on brake

    2005 Cavalier 2.2 EcoTec, auto trans, 68k miles:

    1) engine dies when car is stopped, at idle, in gear with brakes applied
    2) engine fails to start at first attempt

    The engine died at a stop light once last week. Past couple of days it has happened three or four more times. Failing to start on the first try has happened a few times recently too.

    ZERO trouble codes (and no pending codes)
    Idle speed, in gear and brakes applied, is around 600RPM.

    The engine is, and has always been, great otherwise. I love it! Where should I be looking to solve this problem?


    Thanks in advance....
    Last edited by roger2; 08-12-2015 at 04:41 PM.

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    Does it just BAM die, or does it sputter and fight then die? What kind of service has been done to this vehicle recently ie: spark plugs, fluids, filters, cleanings (engine parts not a soap and scrub) and when-ish?

    Also, when it doesn't start how is the motor acting? Does it seem like it wants to start but just cant or does it just spin and nothing seems to happen?

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    Your idle speed is a bit low, should be around 750 or on a stock tach closer to 1k. One thing you could try right now is to clean the idle air port and the idle air control valve. Take the valve out and take off the intake tube that goes to the air cleaner housing. Get some throttle body cleaner and spray the port out(wipe up anything that runs into the TB), it's best to spray from front of the TB(after that spray where the valve is) and then use Q-tips soaked with TB cleaner to get the gunk out. You are going to need a flashlight to see inside so you can get everything that might be in contact with the valve. Put new engine oil on the valves O-ring and put it back in. Oh by the way you will need a torx bit to get the screws out. Best to have a set of them anyway.
    Retest and see how it does. If you still have a problem check for vacuum leaks.
    If there are new plugs what brand did you use?
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    Stock idle for an auto is 600 RPM at operating temp, just checked stock calibration.

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    Does it just BAM die, or does it sputter and fight then die? What kind of service has been done to this vehicle recently ie: spark plugs, fluids, filters, cleanings (engine parts not a soap and scrub) and when-ish?

    Also, when it doesn't start how is the motor acting? Does it seem like it wants to start but just cant or does it just spin and nothing seems to happen?
    Sparkey Quoted Post
    I just dies quietly. And so far, it has happened a few moments after stopping, while waiting for a light to change for example. No service done to the engine recently except for new Bosch oil filter, maybe a 3-4 weeks ago. The first stall-when-idling event was last week, just after filling up the gas tank including a few ounces of Lucas Upper Cylinder Lubricant. One possibility I had considered was water in the fuel tank, would that make any sense?

    When it won't start is as though I simply did not engage the starter quite long enough. Or possibly it just dies quickly right after it fires. It has always started on a 2nd attempt. And this has happened occasionally before the stalling started to happen. May, or may not, be related.

    FYI there are no modifications to this engine (or car). I have maintained it well with best synthetic oil, premium oil filters, always a clean air filter, and AC/Delco fuel filter @39k miles. Plugs are original. When above idle speed, the engine is strong.

    When I rev the engine from idle, in Park of course, it seems to hesitate to increase RPMs. But I think it has always been like that. It is not something that I would do normally, so I am not sure.
    Last edited by roger2; 08-12-2015 at 10:00 PM.

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    Your idle speed is a bit low, should be around 750 or on a stock tach closer to 1k. One thing you could try right now is to clean the idle air port and the idle air control valve. Take the valve out and take off the intake tube that goes to the air cleaner housing. Get some throttle body cleaner and spray the port out(wipe up anything that runs into the TB), it's best to spray from front of the TB(after that spray where the valve is) and then use Q-tips soaked with TB cleaner to get the gunk out. You are going to need a flashlight to see inside so you can get everything that might be in contact with the valve. Put new engine oil on the valves O-ring and put it back in. Oh by the way you will need a torx bit to get the screws out. Best to have a set of them anyway.
    Retest and see how it does. If you still have a problem check for vacuum leaks.
    If there are new plugs what brand did you use?
    nogo04cav Quoted Post

    Is the idle air port the same as IAT sensor? Or is is just where the IAC valve is mounted to the throttle body?

    Will the IAC valve need a new O-ring? To perform the cleaning, will I need to get anything other than TB cleaner? I want to do it right...

    While I am in that area, is there anything else that I should visually inspect?
    Last edited by roger2; 08-12-2015 at 11:05 PM.

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    Wow stock plugs? I would get some AC's or NGK's.

    Oh sorry, the IAC is on the throttle body above the throttle shaft. A new O-ring would be nice, but you may be just fine with the old one. TB cleaner is all you need.

    Damn...on idle speed the mind reverts back to the old V8's sometimes.

    There could be water in the tank. Try some Heet and let it sit overnight.
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    Thanks for your help nogo04cav and Sparkey

    The Owners Manual and Haynes Manual both say 100K for the plugs if not in severe duty. That is why they haven't been changed yet. And they are platinum tipped , I believe that is a more durable metal, is that right? But, if they could be at a point where they are affecting performance...

    I took off the resonator last night. The throttle body looks very clean inside. I will look for the IAC valve O-ring in town today. Could I just use carburetor cleaner on it? I think there is a can of that in my Mom's garage, but it would be pretty old, would that matter?


    Are EcoTecs sensitive to air filter type? When answering Sparkey's question, I forgot to mention that I replaced the air filter with a Fram TGA3916, but that was in February. This is a 'premium' Fram filter, would it possibly be more restrictive of air flow?
    Last edited by roger2; 08-13-2015 at 12:47 PM.

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    I am not leaning towards a plugged filter, it doesn't sound like the motor is choking when it dies nor when it is failing to start. In my mind it sounds like a spark control issue, not necessarily spark plugs. 68k on the originals shouldn't be a problem if it isn't being beaten on in my opinion. The only things I can come up with that are going to kill it cleanly and inhibit start up would be the key switch or ignition module.

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    My mission for this evening is to clean the TB and the IAC valve and its housing. These parts do not look very dirty, a film of carbon on the business end of the of the IAC valve. Very little going on inside the TB.

    Would a failing ignition module set a trouble code?

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    Carb cleaner is ok, TB cleaner is sensor safe if you are running the engine(like when you are just cleaning the throttle body its self). Guess you could change the plugs later if nothing else is found.

    Some parts stores will test ignition control modules. Best to call and ask if they can test yours. Not sure on the code, for older cars it's sometimes yes and sometimes no.
    More humans=more problems
    Don't worry nothing will be done until it's too late, there is money to be made.
    Maximum profit and overpopulation will ruin all the major economies.

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    OK - the IAC valve, including area where it is housed, and the throttle body have been cleaned thoroughly.


    Question RE the IAC valve: A counter man at CarQuest told me to test the IAC valve by disconnecting it while the engine idles. He said that if idle speed changed when disconnecting the IAC, that means that it was working correctly. And he said if the idle speed did not change when disconnected, then the IAC valve is not working.

    I tried this test, and the idle speed did not change when I pulled the electrical connector off.

    But...the position of the pintle(?), the movable end of the valve, stayed in the same physical position when the engine was running, regardless of whether the electrical connector was attached. But when the engine was shut-off, the pintle retracted into a different position.


    Is the CarQuest man right or wrong? Is this IAC valve working, or no?
    Last edited by roger2; 08-14-2015 at 01:27 PM.

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