Car Shuts Off While Driving

6 Causes Why Your Car Shuts Off While Driving

In Driving by 43 Comments

When you own a car, it is your responsibility to care for it. Many car owners seem to think a car runs on magic dust.

You have to continually check for oil, gas, and coolant in your vehicle, among other things, to make sure your car stays fit for a long time.

Having basic knowledge about your car can help you counter a mechanical problem like your car shutting off while driving.

In this article, we will shed light on the various reasons why your car can shut off while driving so the next time it happens; you are well-prepared.

6 Causes Why Your Car Shuts Off While Driving

In modern vehicles, there are many different sensors and functions to make your car run smoothly. Some parts are more common than others, though.

The most common causes when your car shuts off while driving is a faulty fuel pump, empty fuel tank, faulty crankshaft sensor, or alternator problems.

Here is a list of the 6 most common causes why your car shuts off while driving.

1. Faulty Crankshaft Position Sensor

Crankshaft Position Sensors

The most common problem when it comes to a car that shuts off while driving is a defective crankshaft position sensor.

The crankshaft sensor is necessary for your car engine to run at all on most car models.

You also have a camshaft position sensor on some car models, which the car uses if the camshaft sensor is faulty. In this case, a faulty crankshaft position sensor may not cause the car to stop entirely.

However, if your car is only equipped with a crankshaft position sensor and you get a trouble code on the crankshaft position sensor, you need to replace it.

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2. Faulty Fuel Pump/Fuel System

Cars Fuel Pump

A fuel pump has the responsibility to supply the engine with the correct amount of fuel. If the fuel pump is not providing the right amount of fuel to the engine, then the engine will shut off entirely, and you will be left stranded.

The bad news is that there is no bypass for a faulty fuel pump; you have to get it fixed or buy a new one. Another reason could be that your fuel filter got clogged, so the fuel pump can’t pump fuel through it.

A fuel filter is a small component whose only job is to clean the fuel that goes into the engine. If the fuel filter is clogged, the fuel entering the system will be insufficient, and the engine will shut down. Fortunately, it is pretty easy for you to replace a fuel filter.

Most fuel pumps are installed inside the fuel tank. A little mechanic’s secret is to try to give a kick with your foot or something similar on the fuel tank when the car shuts off. If the car starts then, there is most likely a problem with your fuel pump.

Be careful not to hit it with anything with an edge, though, because the fuel tanks are made of plastic, and you may make a hole in it – and that is the last thing you want to do!

3. Empty Fuel Tank

Empty Fuel Tank

Most car owners probably know that you should check your fuel level now and then while driving.

If you have sufficient fuel for your drive, that is perfect, but if your fuel gauge or fuel level sender has gone faulty and does not show the real level of fuel in your car, you could have a big problem.

An easy way to try if there is a problem with your fuel gauge or fuel level sensor is to fill 1 gallon (4 liters) of fuel to see if it starts.

Related:  10 Causes of a Car Losing Power When Accelerating

4. Alternator Problems


An alternator is responsible for managing the supply of electricity in your vehicle. If your car suddenly stops running, the alternator may have gone bad. A faulty alternator will cut power supply to vital car components, and you will notice the lights turning off in the dash or the engine abruptly losing power.

Mostly if your alternator is starting to go bad, you will experience a red battery light on your dashboard now and then.

If your car still has electric power and the starter motor works after it shut off while driving, there is another problem and not the alternator, though.

5. Faulty Ignition Switch

Igniton Switch

In some cases, a faulty ignition switch can cause your car to shut off while driving. The ignition switch is installed behind the ignition lock and get’s turned while you turn the key to start the car.

Inside of this switch, there are small metal plates that can build up corrosion and rust. If this happens, one of these plates may lose connection, and the whole ignition will get switched off.

This will also cause the whole engine to shut off immediately. Luckily this is pretty easy to check if this is the case.

When the car shuts down – check if these are still lights/ignition lights on your dashboard. If the dashboard instrument is completely dead – there is a big chance that there is a faulty ignition switch.

6. Malfunctioning Sensors

Car Engine Sensors

Modern cars are equipped with a lot of sensors to optimize the air-fuel mixture for optimal fuel consumption. If one of these sensors fails and is completely off, your car engine might actually die completely.

Luckily, most of these sensors are not able to shut off the engine completely, though. Sensors like the MAF sensor, Coolant temp sensor, Oxygen sensor could mess with the air-fuel mixture so much that the engine would die.

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How to diagnose a car that shuts off while driving

Car Diagnostics

Diagnosing a car that shuts off while driving can be difficult if the problem comes from time to time. However, For a car that just completely died after driving, it is much easier to find the problem.

  1. Check for any trouble codes in the engine control unit with an OBD2 scanner. Continue the diagnostics of the given trouble code if you get any.
  2. Fill the tank with 1 Gallon or 4 liters of fuel to ensure the fuel level is good, and there is nothing wrong with the fuel level gauge.
  3. Check the battery voltage and connect a car battery charger to make sure the battery charge is good.
  4. If you can start your car after the charging of the car battery. Measure the voltage with a multimeter while the car is running. If it is 13.5-14.5 voltage, your alternator is fine, but if you get under 13 volts while the car is running, there is something wrong with the alternator system.
  5. Check if the engine has correct fuel pressure with a fuel pressure gauge. If not – check the fuel pump and fuel filter. Replace if faulty.
  6. Check live data with your diagnostic tool and look for any strange values from the engine sensors. Check if you get RPM from the crankshaft sensor when cranking the engine.
  7. Check the RPM meter on your dashboard while cranking the engine on the starter motor. If it doesn’t move – there is a big chance that the problem is the crankshaft position sensor.

43 thoughts on “ 6 Causes Why Your Car Shuts Off While Driving ”

  1. My car suddenly stops. Then I start it again and it starts. But now, it as stops finally. Have changed the fuel pump and the have also cleaned the nuzzle. Fuel filter as been changed. But still yet , it not starting. It will start after about 40mins, later it will goes off again and it will not start.

    What can be done to it?

    1. Hello
      I had a problem where I was driving and stopped to make a turn started the turn and the engine stopped I had power in the can but couldn’t go nowhere I had to turn off the car and restart it. It ran and got me down to the red light and It did it again while leaving the light. It starts right up but is having problems when it is driving down the road. I have a Chevy trailblazer 2007. Any ideas what it could be?

      1. Hi I have a problem with my Nissan np200 1.6 8valve it shut off while driving I change the petrol pump but it jusdrive for 2days thn it started again .what can be the problem

        1. Hi i have a Subaru liberty station wagon 1984 old car but only 140,000 on clock.
          It stopped while driving but starts straight away for some time then does it again. Any idea what is going on??
          Regards Karen Corscadden

          1. I have a 2011 Lexus is250 and was driving down the street and my radio turned off and then a few seconds later my car did too. Now it dont start, and or nothing turns on on my dash. But my lights still turn on and car still opens and unlocks. So can any one help me and let me know what you guys think it may be . Thank you

          2. I have a 2006 kia Sorrento it shut off while driving there was some smoke coming out from under the hood it started back after 20 minutes but the battery seemed sluggish and was making a ticking sound it has new radiator on it

      2. I got the same issue mate. Let me know if you found any solution and I will, if i found.
        Thanks and regards,

    2. My 2004 Nissan Frontier stops suddenly after driving for about a mile or two.

  2. 2007 Dodge caravan. It will stop while driving then turns itself back on. Also will stop while idling then turns itself back on. What could it problem be.

    1. Fuel pump can do portray this symptoms, dirty mas airflow sensor can do the same, throttle body can equally do the same, while checking those, dust off your air bus replace your fuel filter if your fuel pump happened to be the culprit.

    2. Hi I have a Kia Sorrento 2005 I can start the car and drive so far and it will stop running I had a camshaft sensors put on and it doing the same thing help

  3. Thanks for sharing this information regarding cars engine. I really found this very helpful And Blog is also very useful for us to get some more knowledge about car part.

    1. Hello have a 03: Dodge caravan…3 and half weeks ago it shut off on my way home…was told not getting fuel…so I changed fuel pump and still want crank then told it was coil pack bought coil pack still won’t crank I have spent 268.00 on new parts still won’t crank….any ideas …what could be next to try….thank you

      1. If it doesn’t crank, you could have a faulty kick starter, dead battery or bad ignition switch

  4. I have a1990 chevy pickup 350 engine runs fine then suddenly dies while driving pull to the side of the road and it starts right back up. may drive 1 mi or 20 mi and it does it again. also it may die when I put it in gear but it will run 5-10 seconds or so before it dies. but always cranks right back started doing this first then later started running the battery down over night (new battery). I disconnect the battery and noticed sparks coming from the battery terminal when u touch the cable to it. checked with volt meter between battery and cable and it is pulling 12 volts. any help would be appreciated. thank you

    1. I have 2005 Ford Fiesta, it show Check engine on the dash, it turn itself sometime especially when I stop at traffic light, and the oder meter is not working

  5. My Volvo was shutting off while I was driving. Check to see if your key chain is too heavy. I had several items dangling on my keychain and it was causing my car to shut off. Check this first, before you start making costly, unnecessary repairs.

  6. my car has been stopping itself when driving or when am in traffic..after a while it starts then its stops completely..the engine has been checked its okay..the fuel pump has been changed..but it still refuses to start and times it starts but stops midway..what can be done av run out of options..

  7. My brother in law’s car has a common problem, but it’s just that when he starts the car, he needs to keep his foot on the accelerator to keep the engine on idle.
    When he removes his foot from the accelerator, the engine stops running.
    What would be the problem?

  8. 1989 Ford F150 Pickup manual 5 speed Starts up fine every time if the truck is cold, runs good no sign of failure of any kind that can be seen, felt, or heard. Idles fine, shifts fine, just like it’s supposed to. Dies while driving, may be 1 mile down the road may be 20 miles when it quits. Won’t start up again for a while(may be 5min-may be 50min) even tried pull starting it. Dumped gas in both tanks making sure there was fuel in it. After a while I can start it up and away it goes for a while(may be 5min-may be ??).

    1. My car trip of on motion and start immidiately, it happens severally, sometimes if it give a breaking sign I will pump my accelerator and it will pick up again and sometimes it will not pick up but trip off even while on speed, what do you suggest I do? Please what is the cause of this problem?

  9. I have a 2010Saab 9-3 AWD. It has 108,000 miles and has been maintained regularly. I have not any problems with it until recently. I drive to work everyday which is 40 miles one way. The last month while driving and after approx. 30 miles, the car abruptly loses power and stops. I then wait approx. 15 minutes and the car starts and I may drive about a couple of block and when I have to slow down or stop the car stops running again. It may do this 3 or 4 times until I get to my destination. After the car sits for hours, I then drive back home without any problem. This may not occur again for days but then all of a sudden, the same thing happens. No engine lights come on and I had it at the mechanic but no codes come up and he cannot replicate the problem and cannot figure out what is wrong. I am now frustrated after this occurring the 4th time and cannot be diagnosed, please help!


  10. Have a 2010 Honda Pilot, 225,450 mile car start and run. 2 minutes into driving the car shut off completely, but start back up right away. It keep shutting off cannot accelerate more then 30 to 35 mph. It died on the highways twice. Took it to the dealer had the ECM replacemented after 45 minutes of driving the same problem happen again. They replaced a second ecm it been a month the problem still come back. What can this be, Honda want to do a deep diagnostic i don’t know what that mean. More money.
    Help, help, help, help.

  11. Hi
    i have a bruick lesabre 2005 man car keep cutting off then when i turn the key and the power off and cut it back on it start now i check at auto zone he said everything was good accept my colister but its not misfiring at all so he told me that’s not a serious problem yet we checked my engine it was great my transmission as well and my alternator can it be my battery i just baught it last month so i am puzzled about it RN ……….

  12. I have a 2007 Chevy trailblazer LT and the truck will stalls and now want stay on, I tried the fuel pump but that wasn’t the problem so I have no ideal, you have any?


  14. My Chevy Silverado will shut off while driving but comes right back on without touching the key. Also it will start with the key in my pocket it has remote start could this have anything to do with it stopping?atlene

  15. Hi i have a 2001 mazda protege and when i start it it shakes and sounds like it is gasping for air when i try driving it u can get it to go maybe 100 feet then it shuts off can you please give me any advise please againe thank you kelly

  16. I hav MercedesBenz c200 1997. Some days ago it stopped during driving. I gues May be fuel gauge not working. I put some Petrol in it. Then engine start I think problem is over. But engine shut off again, again I put some Petrol in it , is start again and after some drive it stopped again. What’s the problem..,

  17. Hi my car just switch off while I’m driving and it displays all the lights in the screen like battery lights water and airbags,alternator was checked and battery still fine.

  18. i have a 1981 Camaro with a 350 engine which shuts off while driving need help. what would my problem be?

  19. Good day
    My car shuts -off while driving and ihave change petrol filter ,plugs,new brakes ,new discsand it still do the same it shut -off when I stop at the robbots . its an automatic drive car.

  20. Can a shift lock be cause of car draining battery and dying during driving on 2002 toyota camry v6

  21. My i130 Infinity 2000 model which has been showing the sign on dashboard ” service engine soon ” And I have had tried to repair it twice by purchasing catalytic converter at each time. Now, this week it suddenly shut off while driving. I turned on the engine again but it shut off again. It did this many times before getting home because all car repairs work shops were closed by the time. What could be the likely possible cause of this problem?

  22. I have a dodge caravan 2010 while I was driving I tap on the brake the van shuts off . I pullover and start it again it only does this when I push on the brake ?

  23. 2016 kia soul died out and wont start again. engine wont start up but turns. wont take a jump and battery is good. what could make it just die out while driving

  24. Hello I have a problem with polo gti 9n3 2008 the engine switched off while I’m driving, the problem the diagnos doesn’t get any faults and the dashboard doesn’t show any signs such as engine or epc

  25. I have a 2009 Chrysler Town and country and it’s been shutting off on me when I’m driving what could be the problem??

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