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“Car shuts off while driving causes fixes?” is a question many car owners ask when faced with this frustrating situation. This can be alarming, especially if you’re not an automobile expert. In this article, our automobile team will explain the leading causes and fixes of this problem.
JUMP TO TOPIC
- 1 What Are the Causes of a Car Shutting off While Driving?
- 1.1 – Defective Crankshaft Position Sensor
- 1.2 – Defective Fuel Injection System
- 1.3 – Electrical System Problems
- 1.4 – Faulty Ignition Key
- 1.5 – Bad Sensors
- 1.6 – Faulty Spark Plugs
- 1.7 – Defective Engine Control Unit
- 1.8 – Flawed Throttle
- 1.9 – Empty Gas Tank With Bad Fuel Gauge
- 1.10 – Defective MAF Sensor
- 1.11 – Inoperative MAP Sensor
- 1.12 – Broken Sensors in the ECU
- 1.13 – Damaged Ignition Control
- 1.14 – Weakened Battery
- 1.15 – Broken Timing Chain
- 1.16 – Overheating
- 1.17 – Broken Ignition Coil
- 1.18 – Blocked Air Filters
- 1.19 – Charging System Problems
- 1.20 – Low Transmission Oil
- 1.21 – Damaged Catalytic Converter
- 2 What To Do if Your Car Turns off Suddenly While Driving
- 2.1 – Check the Charging System Voltage
- 2.2 – Check Sensor Readings
- 2.3 – Check Diagnostic Codes
- 2.4 – Check Pump Pressure
- 2.5 – Inspect the Lights on the Dashboard
- 2.6 – Fill the Gas Tank
- 2.7 – Check the RPM Meter
- 2.8 – Fix Loose Electric Cables
- 2.9 – Clean or Change the Alternator
- 2.10 – Replace the Old Fuel Pump
- 2.11 – Speak With an Expert
- 3 Can a Car Shutting off While Driving be Related to it Smoking but Not Overheating?
- 4 Conclusion
What Are the Causes of a Car Shutting off While Driving?
The causes of a car shutting off while driving include a damaged ignition, throttle, or a flawed ECU. Aside from these, other reasons why your car will shut off when you’re driving are malfunctioning sensors, a clogged fuel system, or an empty tank.
– Defective Crankshaft Position Sensor
One of the major reasons why your car switches off while driving is a faulty crankshaft position sensor. The sensor is responsible for coordinating the movement of several components of the vehicle, including the engine valves, crankshaft, and pistons. It controls the speed and facilitates the timing for the injection and ignition of the fuel.
A failed sensor cannot provide adequate information about component positions to the ECU, thereby causing the cylinder to misfire. It can also cause the lights on the dashboard to come on, falsely detecting a fault in the engine. Another common symptom of a crankshaft sensor is a compromise in the fuel efficiency, causing the car to stop unexpectedly while driving.
– Defective Fuel Injection System
A faulty fuel injector system can cause your car to stop suddenly while driving. Your car engine needs a constant supply of fuel to work, and the pump is the part of the fuel supply system that delivers the right amount of fuel. If the engine doesn’t get the right amount of fuel at the right moment, your car will shut down.
Also, your pump system can get clogged. The fuel filter helps clean what goes into the engine, and it can get blocked over time. This prevents the fuel pump from getting the right fuel and messes up the engine’s ability to produce power and movement.
– Electrical System Problems
A bad alternator can lead to your car shutting down unexpectedly. The alternator is in charge of constantly producing a large stream of electricity from the car’s mechanical energy. It then uses this energy to power the lights, battery, and even the stereo. If your alternator is faulty, it won’t be able to do this job well and can cause your car to shut down unexpectedly.
It’s important to note that the fact that your battery is still running doesn’t mean the alternator is still manageable. It means the battery can step in for a while. Once your battery dies, the car shuts down completely.
– Faulty Ignition Key
A defective ignition key is another reason why your car suddenly turns off while driving. The ignition allows the key to go in and turn the car. Over time, the tiny metal plates can build up rust and contaminants. This can cause many plates to lose connection and allow the whole ignition system to turn off.
– Bad Sensors
Modern cars have sensors that optimize the air-fuel ratio for maximal fuel consumption. If your sensors fail, your engine may stop working. If you notice that your car stops unexpectedly or is slowing down, a faulty engine sensor may be the culprit. An idle RPM or a wrong air-fuel mixture causes a malfunctioning sensor.
– Faulty Spark Plugs
Spark plugs are an essential part of all cars. They are that part of the engine that helps generate power by igniting the air-fuel mixture in the ignition cylinder. If you have one faulty plug, your car may still work. But if you have multiple, then it most likely won’t drive for long.
Multiple faulty plugs will affect your engine and shut it off while driving. However, the shutdown doesn’t ever happen suddenly; the faulty plugs give telltale signs before you notice your engine stalling. The signs include lack of acceleration, reduced engine performance, and engine knocking.
It’s also easy to determine if the plugs are the cause of your car’s stopping problems by examining them physically. A bad plug is usually covered in soot or fuel and is too hot from running too much.
– Defective Engine Control Unit
Another issue that causes your car to shut down while driving is a malfunctioning engine control unit. The ECU is the brain of your car. It collects information from several components of your car to make sure all parts are working in a maximal and efficient manner.
A faulty ECU can cause a sudden drop in power and fuel efficiency, causing your car to turn off abruptly. A faulty ECU also causes the check engine light to switch on.
– Flawed Throttle
A faulty throttle body will cause your engine to shut down while driving. The throttle is responsible for supplying the right amount of fuel and air to the engine of your car. It sits between the gas pedal and the engine, so when you push the pedal, it stimulates the throttle.
The throttle, in turn, opens up, lets more gas and air in, and increases the combustion process. A sensor also regulates its activities.
– Empty Gas Tank With Bad Fuel Gauge
A lot of new car owners are surprised when they realize that the reason their car shuts down while driving can be an empty tank. While some people can be forgetful and don’t remember that they have a low tank, some have a broken fuel gauge that reads a false gas tank level.
One of the reasons for a flawed fuel tank is the failure of a sending unit. Your fuel meter gets stuck in one position and you don’t know the real fluid level of the tank.
– Defective MAF Sensor
The MAF sensor controls the amount of air let into the engine. If this sensor fails, it can allow more air than necessary, causing your car to run erratically. Other symptoms of a faulty mass airflow sensor include an increase in idle speed, an increase in car speed, and a cylinder misfire.
– Inoperative MAP Sensor
If your car stops unexpectedly while driving, it’s essential to check your Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) sensor. Its job is to measure the atmospheric pressure within the manifold. Various car systems, including engine management, then use the result to calculate fuel injection. Any fault with the Manifold Absolute Pressure sensor can cause your car’s engine to stop working.
– Broken Sensors in the ECU
Sensors like oxygen, crankshaft, and oil pressure sensors can malfunction. This can cause your car to turn off while driving. These problems are usually seen after an accident since these sensors are very delicate.
– Damaged Ignition Control
A bad ignition switch or control can make a car stall even while driving. The switch plays a vital role in ensuring power gets to the solenoid. A malfunctioning switch means no power gets to the solenoid, and as such, no power reaches the engine.
– Weakened Battery
Batteries weaken over time, and your car battery isn’t an exemption. They are designed in a manner that their cells die after a certain period. Using a battery for a long time can cause it to die, leading to a bad battery and a shutdown of your car while driving.
– Broken Timing Chain
This is one of the most prevalent causes of a car stopping while driving. A timing chain is part of the car engine and helps keep the components of the engine in proper alignment. When it breaks, it can cause the vehicle engine to stop abruptly and your car to turn off while you are driving.
If too much pressure builds in an engine as a result of the friction, it can cause your engine to stop while driving. This pressure is due to the metal-to-metal contact between moving parts, which doesn’t happen under normal circumstances.
– Broken Ignition Coil
The ignition coil stays over the top of the spark plug, and it’s saddled with the responsibility of transmitting high-voltage charges. These charges ignite fuel in the ignition cylinders and get your car working. When the coil fails, you may notice that your car starts to misfire.
– Blocked Air Filters
Clogged air filters are another reason why your car stops while driving. Your car filters ensure that clean and uncontaminated air reaches the internal combustion component of your engine. The fuel burns out completely, producing the right amount of exhaust fuels.
Unclean air allows dirt and debris into the engine. This results in reduced airflow and fuel and causes your engine to stop unexpectedly.
– Charging System Problems
The charging system powers your car’s electronic components, such as the ECU. So if your charging system has issues, it won’t be able to perform effectively. This shuts down your engine and stops your car abruptly, even while driving. The issues with the charging systems include broken alternator belts and loose electrical cables.
– Low Transmission Oil
If the transmission isn’t getting enough engine oil, it can cause intensive wear and tear and prevent the car from working. One cause of the low transmission oil is a leak in the transmission line, which allows the oil to drain out quickly. If the level of the oil gets too low, it can affect the transmission function and cause the car to suddenly shut off while driving.
– Damaged Catalytic Converter
The catalytic converter is the part responsible for converting harmful emissions to less toxic ones. Once it becomes faulty, it won’t be able to do its job correctly, causing the car to shut off. There are several methods to know if your catalytic converter is damaged. You will hear a rattling noise coming from the exhaust, and its temperature will be sizzling hot.
What To Do if Your Car Turns off Suddenly While Driving
If your car turns off suddenly while driving, you can check the fuel pressure and sensor data and fix the fuel tank. You can also install a new fuel pump and tighten the electric cables. We recommend consulting with an automobile expert before carrying out any replacements or repairs.
– Check the Charging System Voltage
One of the ways to fix a car shutdown is to check the alternator voltage in connection with the engine. You’d need to measure the brakes and the engine’s voltage. If your reading is less than 1.25 volts, then there might be a possible issue with the alternator.
– Check Sensor Readings
Many cars use an immobilizer system that allows them to stop abruptly when driving. If this is the case, checking the vehicle’s sensor data is a way to troubleshoot this issue. You might, however, need to get to a mechanic for a diagnosis for more severe cases.
– Check Diagnostic Codes
You can fix your car if it stops suddenly while driving by checking the trouble codes. Many modern vehicles are built with a diagnostic software that detects when there’s a problem with one of the engine sensors. This software stores the fault codes and switches on a check engine light.
To read the fault codes, you need an OBD2 scanner. You can buy one yourself or go to a repairer to read the fault codes.
– Check Pump Pressure
You can check this by connecting the gauge to a fuel rail. Check the fuel specifications for your car. If your fuel pressure is low, you might need to inspect the fuel filter, pump, and fuel pressure regulator.
– Inspect the Lights on the Dashboard
Checking your dashboard can be a fix to your engine shutting down while driving. If you notice that the lights turn off when the engine switches off, it might be an indicator of an ignition switch problem.
– Fill the Gas Tank
Low fuel will cause the engine to shut down while moving. This is because the fuel pump will suck air instead of fuel. You need to fill up the gas tank as it might be low on fuel without you knowing it.
– Check the RPM Meter
The RPM meter, also known as the tachometer, receives information from the crankshaft sensor. If you find that your tachometer does not work when you switch on your engine, it could mean that your crankshaft position sensor is bad, and you might need to replace it.
– Fix Loose Electric Cables
One of the simplest ways to stop your car from shutting down is to tighten the loose electric cables. This fix doesn’t require an automobile expert as you can easily do it on your own. Try to locate the loose cables and then tighten them smoothly.
– Clean or Change the Alternator
To fix an unexpected shutdown of your car, you’ll have to clean your alternator. This will help maintain the proper functioning of the car. You can also replace the alternator if it appears drained, damaged, or weak.
– Replace the Old Fuel Pump
When there’s a problem with the pump, it can cause further issues like loss of acceleration and the car shutting down. You need to fix it by replacing the faulty fuel pump with a new one. However, you might need the help of an expert to help you with this.
– Speak With an Expert
If you have tried all the solutions and none seem to be working, it may be wise to seek the help of an expert. While this might be expensive, it is beneficial in the long run. The mechanic will be able to locate the problem quickly and easily.
Can a Car Shutting off While Driving be Related to it Smoking but Not Overheating?
You no longer need to panic if your engine shuts off while driving.
Here’s a recap of the main points discussed in the article:
- Your car is shutting off while driving because of a faulty alternator, a bad fuel pump, a defective spark plug, or an empty tank.
- Other reasons include faulty sensors or alternator problems.
- You can fix this problem by checking the voltage of the alternator and tightening the electric cables.
- You can also replace the alternator and install a new fuel pump.
With the information in this article, once you notice that your car won’t start, you should be able to diagnose the root problem and fix it immediately!
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