Why Does My Car Shut Off While Driving? [Top Reasons & Fixes]

Why Does My Car Shut Off While Driving

The cause of the problem may be something as simple as a loose connection or a faulty sensor, or it could be a more serious issue with the engine or electrical system.

In any case, it is not safe to continue driving your car if it is shutting off, as it could cause an accident. You should contact a mechanic or dealership to have the problem checked out and repaired.

In the meantime, check out these top reasons and fixes to get you back on the road.

Ignition Problems

Ignition ProblemsClogged Air Filter

The air filter is the filter that keeps contaminants out of your engine. Usually, an air filter should be changed about every 15,000 miles. Therefore, if your air filter is clogged, then it is due for a change.

How to Fix:

Replace the air filter every 15,000 miles. Ideally, you should use an OEM filter that works best with your vehicle.

Faulty Ignition Switch

The ignition switch is the part of the vehicle that includes the ignition lock cylinder. This mechanism is responsible for starting the vehicle and providing power to specific parts of the vehicle.

How to Fix:

The ignition switch will either have to be rebuilt by the dealership, or it should be replaced.

Fuel Delivery Issues

Fuel Delivery IssuesFaulty Fuel Pump

The fuel pump provides fuel delivery from the fuel tank to the engine. When the fuel pump is not working properly, then your engine will be deprived of the fuel that is needed to keep the engine running.

How to Fix:

A fuel pump is usually too complex to repair on your own. If you have a fuel pump issue, then take it to a mechanic. In most cases, a fuel pump replacement will be recommended.

No Gas

If you have no gas in your engine, then your vehicle will not be able to operate.

How to Fix:

Add fuel to your fuel tank.

Dirty Fuel Injector

A fuel injector is responsible for spraying fuel into your engine. When a fuel injector becomes dirty, it will not be able to spray the proper amount of fuel into the engine. This could result in stalling, underperformance, or a complete engine shutdown.

How to Fix:

Remove and clean the fuel injector.

Battery and Alternator

Battery and AlternatorDead Battery

If your battery is dead, then it will not be able to provide a charge to the vehicle’s electrical systems. A battery usually “dies” due to old age. However, a battery can die if the vehicle has not been turned on for over one or two weeks.

How to Fix:

You can have the battery jumped by a jump charger or another vehicle battery. If your battery still won’t start, then it will need to be replaced. If you are storing your vehicle, you may want to hook up a trickle charger to the battery.

Faulty MAF or MAP Sensor

The manifold pressure sensor is responsible for sending signals to the vehicle computer to send more fuel. When the sensor is not working, then the vehicle will not know when to send fuel to the vehicle’s engine. This could cause a vehicle to shut down.

How to Fix:

Take the vehicle to a technician who can run a scan tool on the MAF or MAP sensor. In many cases, the sensor will simply need to be replaced.

Internal Engine Failure

Internal Engine FailureFaulty Throttle Body

The throttle body is the part of the air intake system that controls the amount of air that flows into the engine. If the throttle body is not working properly, then your engine will not receive enough oxygen and will come to a stop.

How to Fix:

First, try to clean the throttle body. If you are still not able to get enough oxygen to the engine, then the throttle body may need to be replaced.

Faulty Spark Plugs

Spark plugs are responsible for proving the spark that delivers the combustion reaction in the engine. When spark plugs are dirty or not working, then they can not provide the needed spark to keep the engine running.

How to Fix:

You can clean the spark plugs with a wire cleaner if they are dirty. If the spark plugs are still not working, then they should be replaced.

Faulty Engine Control Unit

The engine control unit handles service regulatory functions in regard to your engine. That includes regulating the fuel supply and injection, fuel-to-air ratio, ignition, idle speed, and the timing of valve opening and closing. When the ECU is not working, then your vehicle’s engine will not be properly regulated.

How to Fix:

You can fix an ECU by having it reprogrammed by a mechanic. Usually, you will want to take your vehicle to a certified mechanic with the proper tool for your model vehicle.

Faulty Alternator

The alternator is responsible for converting mechanical energy to electrical energy with an alternating current. When the alternator is not working, then your vehicle will not be able to “turn over” the engine and start.

How to Fix:

The best course of action is to simply have the alternator replaced.

What Should I Do If a Car Turns Off While Driving?

If your vehicle shuts off while driving, perform the following steps:

  • Check the fuel level
  • Check the battery
  • Check the air filter
  • Check the spark plugs

If these areas of your vehicle are fine, then take your vehicle to a technician who can diagnose the issue with a scan tool.

How to Avoid Car Stopping While Driving

You can avoid your car stopping while driving by following these steps:

  • Check to see if you have enough fuel in your engine
  • Check to see if the check engine light is on
  • Check to see if the battery light is on
  • Change the air filter every 15,000 miles
  • Take your vehicle for its regular interval service

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I fix my car that shuts off while driving?

The best way to fix your car if it is shut off is to first check the fuel tank. Next check the battery. Afterward, take a look at the air filter. Finally, check the spark plugs. If these areas of the vehicle are fine, then you should take your vehicle to a mechanic.

What should I do if my car shuts off while driving?

If your vehicle shifts off while driving, check to see if you are out of gas. Afterward, check the battery. If these two areas are fine, then you should take your vehicle to a mechanic who can diagnose the issue with a scan tool.

What is the most common reason for a car to shut off while driving?

The most common reason for a vehicle to shut down is due to issues with the fuel system. That can include any of the following: no gas, dirty fuel injector, and faulty fuel pump.

How do I diagnose my car if it stops while driving?

You can complete the following steps to diagnose your vehicle if it stops while driving, check the fuel level, check the battery, check the air filter, check the spark plugs, and take your vehicle to a technician.