94 1.3 Engine cutting out - Robert C
My daughter's 1994 Polo (1.3 petrol engine) has had an intermittent problem over the last few months.

Back in May the engine cut out on a short run from the supermarket. The mechanic was called out, arrived 20 minutes later and the car wouldn't start when they tried it. They opened the bonnet to see why, they tried to start it again and bingo it started - even though they hadn't done anything. When they took the car in to their garage to take a proper look they replaced the distributor cap.

No problems then until early September. Then on another run it cut out again whilst in the outside lane of a fast A road. This time she paid more attention to exactly what happened. When it cut out everything died - engine stopped and all the electrics died - the only thing working was the battery light on the dash. She was unable to even switch on the hazard warning lights. With the help of anoher driver she managed to get it pushed off the road by which time the electrics seemed to be working again but the car wouldn't start. After a few minutes (maybe 10 or so) she tried again and it started. Ten minutes later though the car cut out for a second time (same problem). She called the RAC who got there in 30-45 minutes. She tried to start the car and it started immediately. The RAC man followed her home expecting the car to cut out again which it did not. We then took the car to my mechanic who checked the car over thoroughly and said that he could find nothing wrong with it. He recommended that we disable the immobiliser which had been fitted when we bought the car as he had had cases where this had been causing cars to cut out. We did this (and the immobiliser was removed from the car completely) and the car seemed to be OK.

Now two days ago (mid October) the car cut out again. The sequence was everything went off (except the battery indicator), then the electrics came back after about 10-20 seconds. The car would not start at that point but when she re-tried starting it a minute or two later it started. She took it back to her garage who checked it over again. Confirmed that they could find nothing wrong whatsoever mechanically and suggested it must be something electrical.

The only other thing to note is the car has occasionally had a situation where whilst driving along it seems to lose a little power and then, almost immediately back to full power. This may be related. The most recent check confirmed that there were no problems with the fuel line.

As the fault is very intermittent I am concerned about taking it to an electrician as they are unlikely to be able to replicate the fault whilst testing it. So my question is: anyone had similar problems and, if so, what was the ultimate cause? Any other ideas as to the likely fault? I would just like to point the electrician in the right direction of possible faults.

I have posted this on another forum too but I am worried about my daughter's safety as nothing seems to predict this fault occurring - no warnings, nothing. So any ideas as to the cause gratefully received.

By the way, I have only limited knowledge myself so would appreciate fairly dumb explanations of things too.

94 1.3 Engine cutting out - Screwloose

Intermittent faults can be a nightmare to trace.

When, exactly, does the battery light come on? While the engine is still spooling-down, or after it has stopped? [I'm wondering about the ignition switch.]
94 1.3 Engine cutting out - Robert C
The electrician says it was a problem with a loose wire in the ignition switch. Hopefully sorted now.

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