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Engine shuts down while driving 2006 Civic

Old 08-22-2018
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Unhappy Engine shuts down while driving 2006 Civic

I have a 2006 Civic that has been working well with regular maintenance, but a couple weeks back the engine shut down with no warning while in stop and go morning traffic. When it happened the Oil and Battery light both came on, the radio and dash lights all stayed on, just the engine shut down. I was able to put the car into park and then start it again with ignition. I changed lanes so that I could get off the highway if needed and a few minutes later it died again with the same symptoms, both oil and battery lights come on, engine dies, all the dash lights and radio remain on. I was able to restart the engine and got off the road at the next exit. I took the car into a Firestone because it was right there and after a long time they told me that it they had problems getting the car to recreate the same problem, but eventually they got a code of P0171 - System Too Lean - from the car. They gave me a long list of possible things that needed to be checked, but said they didn't have all the required equipment. I then took it to a close local mechanic and after a day or so they said it was the MAF (Mass Air Flow) sensor and replaced that. The car seemed ok for about a week and then I had the same engine shut down and Oil/Battery dash lights. I took the car back to the mechanic and they kept if for multiple days and then basically said they had no idea and all they could do is start trying to change parts until something worked or to bring it back when the check engine light stays on and they can get a better ideas what's wrong. That is NOT what I wanted. I took it home and it did fine one day to drive to the office and back, but today it died on me twice in a short amount of time near my house. I can take it to the dealership if I have to, but I wanted to see if anyone has had a similar issue before and to get some idea what might cause this before I do anything else. I want to keep this car since I've had it since it was new, but playing Russian Roulette every time I try to go somewhere. Any ideas are greatly welcome and if you need more information, I'm happy to supply it. Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-23-2018
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Re: Engine shuts down while driving 2006 Civic

Oil and Battery light both came on
Normal and correct. These are supposed to be on whenever the engine is not running.

P0171 - System Too Lean
Is that a brand new code? Is that an old code that's been there for a while?
Erase code. Drive car with scanner attached, see if same code resets immediately before or upon dying.
Even better if you have a scanner that can display live operating data that you can watch while driving (helps to know what you're looking at in the first place though).
Better yet, scanner that can take a snapshot or movie of that data on demand
They gave me a long list of possible things that needed to be checked,
This is not how a troubleshooter operates.
and all they could do is start trying to change parts until something worked or to bring it back when the check engine light stays on and they can get a better ideas what's wrong.
That is NOT what I wanted.
Yea, not what I would want to hear either, but if the problem is not acting up there's not much anyone will do but guess, and all guesses will be expensive and wrong.....until someone accidentally hits the right guess. .
but playing Russian Roulette every time I try to go somewhere.
This is why you should establish a relationship with a mechanic who is very smart and you trust, and stick with them. If you go to a dealership ask for the resident rocket scientist, not 'the other guys' who just change parts.

Warning: People who are truly good at troubleshooting aren't cheap, but you probably already know how much money can be wasted when someone has no clue what they are doing.
Any ideas are greatly welcome and if you need more information,
No silver bullet here. Far too many possibilities.
Gotta be able to observe and document more than the simple "it died on me".
What exactly was going on when it died?
Why would an engine die? It either lost spark or it lost fuel control. I'd want to monitor each system until I know which one was affected. Then start tracking down why that system is affected.

This process goes much faster when the problem is known to be consistent and easily repeatable.


Ever lost the gas cap or left it off?
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