Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby kittenflaps [OP] » August 4th 2020, 10:04pm

My 1998 AWD Astro had a truly mystifying fit on Sunday. Was taking a victorious test drive after finally narrowing in on and fixing a long running issue with my brakes that was also screwing with my AWD (lesson learned, don't take the bait on the cheap parts...) and then...

PROBLEM: Got on the freeway at 51st st, and power cut right before the next exit to 27th (so made it roughly 20 blocks..) noticed the gas pedal suddenly wasn't doing anything, and felt the engine chuggling a little bit, noticed all my dash lights were out, hazards didn't work when I put them on. Thankfully, no one in the lane to the right of me and the exit was right there (no shoulder on this section) it's a funny little exit that is a little downhill, then has a slight grade up in the middle, then down again... was losing speed at the hump and tapped the gas hard for a few seconds which barely gave me the push I needed to crest over. Parked in a red zone right out of the mouth of the exit, turned ignition to off, and let my heart attack play out. Tried turning the car on, expecting it to not crank, but alas, started right up. I turned the van off again, checked battery connections, they are all tight. OK. Started again to cautiously take side streets home, after 2 blocks air bag light started flashing, then same thing happened again at about 3 blocks away. Checked battery connections again because I didn't know what else to do... yes they are still tight. Let it run for about ten minutes at idle, turning all the lights off and on, blasting radio, heat, whatever, didn't skip a beat... Drove the rest of the way home (about 2.5 miles) without error.

CONTEXT: https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=76&t=142312 here is a previous post about somewhat similar issues that I thought had been resolved, and more context on other events that may or may not be related from the deeper past. This would be the 3rd and 4th time I've lost power while in motion, but the events are all very spaced out save the fact it happened twice in a row on Sunday.

I am really at a loss. I am inclined to think it's not the alternator since it came back on right away. My scope on that is limited, though. Leaning toward potential it's something spazzing in the ignition, but if my van thought I turned it off mid freeway I'm not sure why the lights wouldn't work, or why I would have gotten that weak little push from hitting the gas... :confused: Planning on taking it in for professional TLC soon, but it's been in and out of the mechanic for weird electrical business and would like to try and formulate a better idea of what even happened. It's been hard for them to narrow down, since its so intermittent, and of course tends to be on its best behavior when it's at the doctor...

Any thoughts or insight would be very kindly appreciated!
Last edited by kittenflaps on August 5th 2020, 1:42am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby dcsleeper » August 4th 2020, 10:21pm

The power wires/cables run close to the control arm.
Check and make sure they haven't rubbed through and are arcing out on them.
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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby TPP » August 4th 2020, 10:31pm

Probably a bad battery, a rod is probably loose and hitting another one. Happened to my bro on his bike on I 95. When you jiggle the battery terminal connections it probably fixed it until you hit a bump or took a turn 3 blocks later.
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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby Sailing_Faith » August 5th 2020, 12:35am

kittenflaps wrote:....
QUICK QUESTION: Now noticing that odometer light and clock light dim when I turn the headlights on, but it doesn't happen under any other accessory load. I can't remember it's always done this or if it's actually new. Is that normal (like lowering the brightness at night when you would need headlights) or indicative of something? Can anyone check their Astro of a similar year and let me know?

...Any thoughts or insight would be very kindly appreciated!


Yes, it is normal for the odometer light (and PRNDL) to dim when the lights are on. They are both on a different ‘driver’ then the dash lights, and only have two modes, ‘bright’ and ‘dim’.... unless you count ‘dead’ if you get that one try this thread;

https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=76&t=142526
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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby Sailing_Faith » August 5th 2020, 12:43am

As for the other problem, you have got a wire ing problem. Check the battery connections, and cables.... the fact that your emergency flashers would not work rules almost everything else out.
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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby kittenflaps [OP] » August 5th 2020, 1:32am

Battery is new, tests fine, redid negative battery cable a couple months ago because the post was stripped and I was having issues like this. Replaced wire 10g red wire between starter and alternator around then too, because it looked bad and the van was doing weird stuff while it was off. Distributor was replaced last year. So, those things are ruled out.
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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby kittenflaps [OP] » August 5th 2020, 1:33am

Sailing_Faith wrote:
kittenflaps wrote:....
QUICK QUESTION: Now noticing that odometer light and clock light dim when I turn the headlights on, but it doesn't happen under any other accessory load. I can't remember it's always done this or if it's actually new. Is that normal (like lowering the brightness at night when you would need headlights) or indicative of something? Can anyone check their Astro of a similar year and let me know?

...Any thoughts or insight would be very kindly appreciated!


Yes, it is normal for the odometer light (and PRNDL) to dim when the lights are on. They are both on a different ‘driver’ then the dash lights, and only have two modes, ‘bright’ and ‘dim’.... unless you count ‘dead’ if you get that one try this thread;

https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=76&t=142526


Thank you!! Couldn't remember for the life of me...
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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby augidog » August 5th 2020, 6:49am

I'm just watching, but wanted to say you write a really good "help me" post.
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https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=142268
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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby MechBob » August 5th 2020, 12:52pm

I would check the underhood fuse box,where the power from battery comes into it.
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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby kittenflaps [OP] » August 6th 2020, 8:18pm

MechBob wrote:I would check the underhood fuse box,where the power from battery comes into it.


Thank you, I'll do this today and let you know what its lookin' like...
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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby sixsix » August 6th 2020, 8:32pm

kittenflaps wrote:Battery is new, tests fine, redid negative battery cable a couple months ago because the post was stripped and I was having issues like this. Replaced wire 10g red wire between starter and alternator around then too, because it looked bad and the van was doing weird stuff while it was off. Distributor was replaced last year. So, those things are ruled out.

Extremely Famous Words Right There.

augidog wrote:I'm just watching, but wanted to say you write a really good "help me" post.

Extremely Honest And Correct Observation.

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Well, after all... what would Banacek say ?... “It is only a matter of time before armed citizens, waiting or not for the police, take things into their own hands, fire on the rioters for personal and property prot. & end up hunted like dogs.”

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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby kittenflaps [OP] » August 7th 2020, 12:47am

0806201635.jpg
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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby Sailing_Faith » August 7th 2020, 12:52am

kittenflaps wrote:
0806201635.jpg


Tap... ? Impact...? Breakfree... ? Something has to work, you need to clean those up. :banana:
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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby kittenflaps [OP] » August 7th 2020, 1:42am

Maybe worth noting -longstanding thing where if I have it in accessory mode, using power windows will make the fuel gauge needle jump off the chart, when I stop screwing with the window it will rest but not back at its original position; likewise, the hazards will make it bounce back and forth at the same pace as the lights flashing... Since this event, that has stopped. Fun stuff :think:
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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby kittenflaps [OP] » August 7th 2020, 2:10am

Sailing_Faith wrote:
kittenflaps wrote:
0806201635.jpg


Tap... ? Impact...? Breakfree... ? Something has to work, you need to clean those up. :banana:


It's a fear of breaking the 90's plastic that these are clipped into the fuse box with. Hard to get a grip on it from the side or underneath, so can't get much torque without really risking the whole piece snapping off. Any tips? Tried some "deep creep" lubricant, and scrubbing with lectric cleaner n wire brush. Haven't had much luck. Will try again tomorrow, maybe lubricant will penetrate further by then..
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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby Rockridge » August 7th 2020, 2:11am

Can you slot the stud with a Dremel so you could put a flat head screwdriver in the stud to support it while you break the nut free?

PB Blaster will help
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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby Leeann_93 » August 7th 2020, 2:20am

PB Blaster, tap with something metal (helps the capillary action), a little bit of heat and, believe it or not, actually tightening the nut slightly will help break it free so you can remove.
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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby dcsleeper » August 7th 2020, 9:33am

This
WILL
break it free

http://www.freealloil.com/
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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby MechBob » August 7th 2020, 1:28pm

Neither one of those studs could cause your problems, don't mess with them unless you really want to.Corrosion ior bad connection nside the fuse box could cause your problems.
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Re: Power cut on freeway, but started right back up after?

Postby unclemaui » August 17th 2020, 9:49pm

When I have an issue like that. I use penetrating oil. heat with a torch (small flame just to get the nut warm not the post or plastic. or use heat gun again try only the nut. it will expand a tad, enough to allow the penetrating oil to creep.

keep a wet towel by in case you get anything too hot you can cool it down quickly.
then with firm grip try to loosen tighten loosen tighten. little by little no jerking. just steady constant pressure. don't increase pressure too much. patience is your friend.
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