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Reasons Why Your Car is Stalling

Trying to figure out why your car is stalling? There are a few main issues that need to be checked.

By Cato ConroyPublished 6 years ago 5 min read

Ah cars, can't live with em, can't live without em. There’s nothing more frustrating than car issues. And oftentimes, they're inevitable, as even the most reliable American cars run into issues. If you’re having trouble figuring out the reasons why your car is stalling, you definitely understand these frustrations firsthand. There are any number of reason why it could be stalling, and it’s important to make sure that you are able to diagnose the problem.

Not only is this problem frustrating, it is also potentially dangerous, which is why your car stalling is one of the car problems you should never ignore. The last thing you want is to be cruising down the freeway only to have your car stall out on you. That puts you in a very risky situation. Having to try to get your car over to the shoulder, possibly through heavy traffic, is prime cause for an accident.

Especially if your engine suddenly stops running, your car could be the cause of a multi-car pileup. You definitely don’t want to be the at fault driver in this case. Best case scenario, you end up with a hefty fine, and, the worst case, would be a multi-injury accident.

Knowledge is power, so it’s important that you understand what causes a car to stall and how to get the issue fixed before it really becomes something more problematic than just an inconvenience.


The first place you need to check is your battery. Think of the acronym K.I.S.S.: Keep it super simple. Any issues that involve electrical issues with your vehicle like not starting or stalling out should be first traced to the battery.

A bad battery will affect so many other systems on your car, including causing your engine to stall. If your battery isn’t running optimally, that puts undue stress on your alternator, and it has to work overtime just to keep your car running. The stress on the alternator will eventually lead to issues with your engine, causing it to stall.

The first thing you need to look at with your battery are the terminals. Sometimes, a little battery cleaner and a wire brush is all you need to get your battery output to increase. Sometimes you'll need to disconnect the battery and check the connection. Corrosion can build up on the terminals and that corrosion can interfere with the power coming from the battery terminals and going to the rest of the car.

Air Filter

Source: Unsplash

Another common cause of intermittent stalling is a lack of air getting to your engine. Your engine needs an optimal air to fuel mixture to allow for the proper combustion in your pistons. This airflow is crucial to whether you notice your engine running well or if it’s struggling. A clogged or damaged air filter can cause an imbalance in this mixture which will cause your car to run too rich or too lean, depending on the amount of air coming in. Both of these issues can lead to your car stalling out on while on the road.

Fuel Pump

A more serious reason why your car is stalling could be linked to the fuel pump. Your fuel pump is pretty basic in the sense that its job is to carry fuel from the tank to the engine. A bad pump can really inhibit the amount of fuel getting to the engine which can cause it to stall. One of the early warning signs is when your car starts to sputter when you are driving at a regular speed. A sudden drop in fuel pressure can occur when your fuel pump is not working properly.

You should be regularly checking your mileage when you fill up. A significant decrease in your gas mileage can mean a faulty fuel pump which can eventually lead to your car stalling out.

Faulty Fuel System

Along with the fuel pump, you could be having issues with other aspects of the fuel system as well. This happens when your engine is either getting too much fuel or too little. Either one will have an effect on the combustion of your engine which could be why your car is stalling.

Fuel Filter

Connected to the entire fuel system is the fuel filter. If your filter becomes clogged, it can impact the performance of your engine. If your fuel filter is extra dirty or extremely clogged, then it is restricting the amount of fuel that’s getting to the engine. Any time the fuel to the engine is restricted, you run the risk of your engine stalling.

Moisture in Gas

Source: Unsplash

At times, the problem is somewhat out of your hands. You can get moisture in your gas tank from a few different sources. Often this is caused by a bad batch of gas or an improperly sealed gas cap which allows moisture to seep into the tank. This prevents the gas from burning efficiently and can lead to issues within the engine, like stalling. As you can see, fuel issues are can be one of the reasons why your car is stalling.

Electrical Problems

There can be any number of electrical issues that can cause your car to stall. Just like with the battery and fuel, your car depends on the electrical wiring to carry the electrical current to where it is needed on your car. Improper connection and frayed or damaged wiring can create problems, like stalling, that can be damaging to your car.

Timing Issues

Source: Unsplash

The timing in your engine helps set your idle speed and keep everything running smoothly. Your timing belt helps by making sure the moving parts are in sync. If you have issues with the timing, it can start to throw off other aspects of how your engine performs. Timing issues can be serious as they can lead to engine damage as well as stalling.

Distributor Cap

Source: Unsplash

This is one of the more uncommon issues, as compared to the issues mentioned above, but it’s still worth checking. Since the distributor cap helps to bring power to the spark plugs, which create the combustion in the engine, you need to make sure this is serviceable and running. Any misfires from your spark plugs can cause stalling issues.


Source: Unsplash

The least likely of the reasons why your car is stalling is your engine’s transmission. If your torque converter freezes, due to some sort of pressure issue internally, then this could cause your vehicle to stall. Although uncommon, it could still be a cause of your stalling problems.


About the Creator

Cato Conroy

Cato Conroy is a Manhattan-based writer who yearns for a better world. He loves to write about politics, news reports, and interesting innovations that will impact the way we live.

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