The operation of a car’s components is intricate as there are so many different elements performing functions. However, if a component fails, the entire system may grind to a halt. The worst-case scenario is that the car turns off while driving.
You won’t be able to find a car technician in the middle of the road, therefore you should be aware of the reasons why your automobile has shut down. You should also be aware of the troubleshooting steps in order to resolve the problem.
Table of Contents
Common Causes of Car Turns Off While Driving
“Why does my car turn off while driving?” A car can shut off for a variety of reasons, and depending on the cause, it will respond differently. Below are the most common ones:
1. Out of gas
One of the most common causes for a car to shut down while traveling is a lack of fuel. This is sometimes attributable to a fuel leak, and other times it is owing to the driver’s failure to fill up the gas tank. It’s also plausible that the fuel gauge is malfunctioning and giving you false readings.
Whatever the reason, a car without fuel will not start and will eventually shut down, no matter where you are.
When there is roughly 10% of the gasoline capacity remaining in most cars, the fuel light will illuminate. This is the first indication that you need to top out your gas tank.
There will be no evident indicators when there is no petrol remaining, except that the car will begin sputtering before you realize that stepping on the gas pedal has no impact. The automobile will begin to slow down, and you need to react fast to move it to a safe stopping point.
2. Fuel pump or fuel system failure
A fuel pump delivers the right amount of fuel to the engine. If the fuel pump does not deliver the correct amount of fuel to the engine, the engine will shut down, leaving you stranded.
The bad news is that a malfunctioning fuel pump has no bypass; you must either repair it or replace it. Another possibility is that your gasoline filter has become clogged, preventing the fuel pump from pumping fuel through it.
A fuel filter is a tiny component that cleans the fuel before it enters the engine. The fuel arriving will be inadequate if the fuel filter is clogged, and the engine will halt. Fortunately, replacing a fuel filter is a simple task.
It’s common for a malfunctioning fuel pump to cause your automobile to turn off while driving and then turn back on again.
3. Defective ignition switch
The ignition switch is another possible source of the problem. The ignition switch is activated when the car’s key is turned, which triggers the electrical systems and supplies power to the system. There will be no combustion if there is no ignition system, and the engine will stall.
It is sometimes feasible to restart the car by just turning the key. If this is the scenario, you should endeavor to come to a safe halt and deal with the situation.
4. Car battery that is dead
Aside from the fuel, the automobile battery is responsible for starting the vehicle. You can initiate the combustion process by giving the correct amount of power. Despite the fact that the battery does not provide power to the vehicle, it is critical in starting it. Other components can be powered by a car battery. Your car will turn off instantly if the battery is unable to charge properly. You’ll have to check if the battery is still alive. Short circuits can occur while driving, in addition to halting your car.
When the alternator fails, the car will rely on the battery. Your automobile will die if the battery is dead. If the alternator is dead, the battery will not last long. You can check the status of the automobile battery with a multimeter. The battery is not fully charged if it is less than 12.6V. If the voltage is below 11.7V and the charge is less than 25%, the battery must be replaced.
5. Crankshaft position sensor fault
The crankshaft is responsible for properly moving the pistons and giving rotational power to the tires. A crankshaft position sensor provides data to the ECU to maintain synchronization since the crankshaft must be in sync with all other parts and activities.
Misfires will occur if the process gets desynchronized. The engine will stall in extreme instances. With a defective crankshaft position sensor, you will most likely be unable to attain your normal speed unless the sensor breaks unexpectedly. This is because the indications of a defective crankshaft position sensor are most noticeable when the car is first started or when it is preparing to move.
The crankshaft position sensor must be serviced if it is damaged. This means that if your crankshaft position sensor fails, you should not attempt to drive anywhere.
6. Problems with the alternator
The alternator is in charge of keeping the car’s many components working smoothly. It is your vehicle’s engine, and if it fails to function properly, the car will shut down. By recharging the battery, the alternator assists in managing the supply of electricity. Your automobile will cut off while driving if it has a defective alternator. This occurs mostly because it has an impact on the power supply.
The engine will lose power if the alternator fails. The alternator, on the other hand, is unlikely to fail. You’ll need to figure out what’s wrong before you have to deal with it while driving. The battery will provide electricity if the alternator fails. Because the battery cannot supply electricity for the entire vehicle, this can only happen for a brief time. After stalling, the car will ultimately shut off.
7. The engine control unit isn’t working properly
The Engine Control Unit, or ECU, is a critical component of any vehicle. It is a little computer task that controls the majority of the actions. The ECU ensures that the car functions smoothly and assists in identifying any problems. The ability to control various engine processes aids in achieving optimal engine performance.
When the auto computer isn’t working properly, though, the engine can lose power. You won’t be capable of driving your car if the ECU fails. The car may occasionally switch off without warning and then restart. Once the ECU lacks spark, power, or efficiency, this can happen. The failure of a computer can be caused by a variety of factors. The engine light will let you know if there are any problems.
You’ll need an OBD scanner to figure out if the ECU is working correctly. It’s important to remember that troubleshooting or checking the ECU can be tricky. With the necessary tools, knowledge, and software, only a professional mechanic can examine the ECU.
What Should You Do If Your Car Stops Working While You’re Driving?
Whatever the cause of the car turning off while driving, knowing what to do is critical for your safety and the safety of others on the road.
The automobile will act differently when the engine is turned off because there is no power steering and braking will be more difficult.
The key thing is to maintain your composure. It’s simple to say while you’re not in the scenario, but staying calm can help you make better decisions and execute them. As long as it is safe, try to drive the car to the side of the road. Turn on your danger lights if the electronics are still working.
The steering should still operate, but there will be more resistance, as will the brakes. If braking is difficult, you may need to engage the emergency brake. However, if you do so, exercise extreme caution. If you use the emergency brake carelessly, you risk losing control of your vehicle and perhaps wrecking it.
Instead, slowly and gradually lift the emergency brake until the automobile comes to a complete stop. Once you’ve come to a complete stop, you should securely exit your vehicle and wait for assistance in a more secure location.
How to Deal with A Car that Turns Off While You’re Driving
If you’re driving down the highway and your car breaks down, you’ll find yourself in the middle of nowhere. It is critical to maintain a higher level of safety and to take the required precautions.
Pull over to the side of the road and park your car
When your automobile cuts off while you’re driving, keep calm and don’t panic. Always park the car to the side to avoid any rear-end collisions with oncoming traffic. Your car may be out of control for steering and braking in rare instances. If you find it difficult to slow down the vehicle, you can apply the emergency brake. This may result in an abrupt halt, but it will assist you avoid stopping on the road.
Attempt to restart your vehicle
After you’ve parked your car on a safe place, you could try to start it up again. You can drive the automobile to the local auto repair shop if this happens.
Use flares, lights, or cones
In the event that you seem unable to restart the car, the emergency flashers might be used. This will alert other people that you are unable to restart your vehicle, as well as preventing you from merging into traffic. You’ll be capable of figuring out what to do and stay safe as a result.
Obtain assistance from roadside or emergency services
Finally, roadside support services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Make advantage of the emergency number and make an attempt to obtain assistance. When your phone fails, the police can aid you in contacting roadside assistance.
An engine shutting off while driving is fortunately uncommon, but it does happen. In most circumstances, there will be a variety of signs and symptoms indicating a problem with a certain automotive component. Whatever the cause, it is critical not to panic and to relocate to the nearest safe area on the side of the road.
Hi there! I’m Naomi O’Colman. I’ve got years of experience working at an auto repair shop here in Texas under my belt. On top of that, ever since I was a kid I’ve been passionate about the auto industry. Since I’ve joined the team at automotivegearz.com I’ve been enthusiastically sharing my passion and insights with my readers. I’m dedicated to delivering high quality content and helping you stay up to date with the latest automotive trends and products out there!