Backfire,1999 Sebring Convertible, at ropes end!


Asked by Jan 04, 2014 at 02:23 PM about the 1999 Chrysler Sebring 2 Dr JX Convertible

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

1999 Chrysler Sebring Convertible
VIN# - 3C3EL45HXXT570673

July 2013 –
1. Battery light comes on and off for no reason.  Had the charging system checked out and did not find any issue.  
• The battery has since been replaced.
• Light still comes on with no noticeable electrical issues.
October 2013 -
2. Check Engine light comes on and engine runs rough and miss-fires.  OBD code shows P1391.
• (P1391 intermittent loss of the cam sensor or crank sensor signal)
• Replaced the Crank Shaft Positioning Sensor (no help) ($45 for part and my free labor)
• Replaced Cam Shaft Positioning Sensor (AKA: Ignition Coil in the distributor.)  $75 for part and $150 labor
• Check Engine light went off on its own and the engine ran well for one week.
• One week later, check Engine light came on again and engine runs rough and miss-fires.

3. Brought car to local mechanic and after two days they could not find the problem.
4. Brought car to a Chrysler Dealership and they gave me a $3000 laundry list that included, among other things, 3 freeze-out plugs and 2 front tires. (That’s going to make the engine light go out, wouldn’t you say?) When I pressed them for an answer for the original problem, they suggested replacing the distributor. (The same distributor a local mechanic took apart to replace the internal coil/camshaft sensor).  Funny he did not tell me the distributor was bad. ($80 diag cost)
5. At a recommendation, took the car to Chevy dealer.  After one week and finally replacing the distributor, I got the car back.  (They replaced the distributor from the advice of a friend at the above Chrysler Dealer.)
6. After 10 min of driving, check Engine light comes on and engine runs rough and miss-fires.  OBD code shows P1391
7. Brought back to the Chevy dealer and now it’s been 3 weeks and I was told some wiring had to be replaced.
December 30, 2013 -
8. The Dealer told me they did end to end tests of the wiring from the distributor and, in their words, “did not see any “aha” moments”.
9. I have the car back now and don’t know how to proceed.  We have been without a second car for almost 2 months now.

9 Answers


Intermittent problems are caused, 95% of the time, by bad wiring connections. The other 5% by components dying a slow death. Sounds like you have electrical problems. One mistake I see in your post is repairing the distributor. The distributor should have been replaced with, preferably, a new unit. Not a rebuilt one. Are you sure the ignition timing was set correctly after the distributor was repaired? Most mechanics today wouldn't know a timing light if they got smacked in the head with one! Or a distributor either. The second mistake was taking a Chrysler to a Chevy Dealer. I'd start with trying to tackle the trouble codes first. Check the plugs to the specific sensors. Wiggle and jiggle them to see what happens. I'd replace that distributor and set the ignition timing again as well. Are you due for a tune up? If so, do that too. Can't hurt. HTH. -Jim

1 people found this helpful.

Thanks Jim: I installed the Crank Shaft Position sensor, as the ODB2 code suggested. The connection there look clean and good. I then asked a local mechanic to replace the Cam Shaft Positioning sensor, as the ODB2 codes suggested. (That's inside the distributor). After that did not work, the Chevy dealer REPLACED the distributor. I only took it to the Chevy dealer because of a friend of a friend. There is a Auto Diagnostics shop down the road who specializes in electrical diagnostics, sounds like you would suggest I take it there?

1 people found this helpful.

Thank you guys for your response. I would like to cut my loses but it's not a good time right now. There is a Auto Diagnostics shop down the road who specializes in electrical diagnostics, sounds like you would suggest I take it there?

1 people found this helpful.

You're welcome. Glad to help. Yes, I'd definitely suggest taking it there. Electrical maladies are sometimes hard to find. If the shop specializes in that type of repairs you'll have better luck I think. HTH. -Jim

1 people found this helpful.

I have the same issues with my 2006 Chrysler Sebring. I've done just about all you've done to try to get my car running smoothly like it had before. I've replaced the cam shaft sensor, crankshaft sensor, rewiring, and I took it to a diagnositic place also. They charged me 75.00 just to tell me it was the cam and crank. They suggested that they could replace with parts from the dealer, because where I had bought my parts, the quality was too cheap. I'm at a loss now as to what to do either. This has been going on now for about 3 weeks.

1 people found this helpful.

Sorry to hear this. I gave up on my Sebring. After $850, I sold it for $725. What a shame. The book value was only $1300 if there were no problems, so I just cut my losses. I wish for the old days before all this electronic crap was around. Replace the points or condenser under the distributer cap and be done with it. Who's the brain that thinks a cam and crank sensor is a better way to tell where your pistons are in their cycle? Now the mechanics can't even fix their own product! Good luck my man. RSC


I forgot to mention, I did take my Seabring to that diagnostics place down the road as I mentioned above, $150.00 later, he could not find the problem. Thanks everybody. RSC


You're welcome. Sorry to hear that you sold it! But a 1999 model is, at best, in the twilight of life. For most cars 10 to 12 model years old is a good run. Another problem that happens is when a car outlives the people who know how to fix it. That happened to my '93 Chevy Caprice. The Caprice also started "nickel and diming" me and had a coolant leak that, for whatever reason, couldn't be fixed. I bought that car brand new. I sold it to a young fellow for $500. two years ago. Like you, it was time to move on. -Jim


Distributor. Needed a known good dizz. Thats all.

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