Car Died While Driving and Won’t Start – Causes and Solutions

If you’re an average person, you will be afraid when your car suddenly dies on you while you are driving on the highway or in the middle of heavy traffic. This happens to almost all drivers. This article will discuss what happens if your car dies while driving and won’t start – causes and solutions.

If your car suddenly dies and won’t start, perhaps the alternator is not functioning, or maybe the problem is with the battery. These are only two of the common reasons for this problem. Other parts of the car can cause it to stop if they are not functioning.

A car is composed of many parts that are supposed to work together well to run without any problem. These parts are grouped in separate systems. If one of these parts and systems is not functioning well, it will affect your vehicle’s performance. It can even cause the engine to die and your car to stop.

Read on to learn more about why your car will die on you while driving, the many reasons it happens, and how you can diagnose and fix the problem.

Car Died While Driving and Won’t Start

car died while driving and won't start

If your car dies on you while driving, it could be one or two things: the alternator is not functioning, or perhaps the battery is not working. Other parts of your car can also cause it to stop.

These car parts are grouped in different systems to make your car run. If any of these parts and systems malfunction, your car’s performance will be affected. It may even cause your engine to die, eventually causing your car to stop.

But don’t worry. Every car problem has a solution. Whatever is causing the engine to stop, you need to diagnose the problem, and there will be a corresponding fix to that particular problem. The rest of this article will discuss the causes and the solutions to this problem:

1. Malfunctioning Fuel Pump

Supplies Fuel from the Tank to the Engine

A failing fuel pump is one common reason a car shuts off when stopped or slowing down. The function of this pump is to supply fuel from the tank to the engine. Fuel is needed inside the combustion chamber for the combustion process.

Engine Will Stall and Car Will Stop

Fuel must be delivered to the engine’s cylinders at the right pressure level and correct flow rate. If fuel is not supplied under the right conditions, the engine will stall, and your car will stop. In addition, the flow rate of the fuel is also dependent on the condition of the fuel filter.

Replace Failing Fuel Pump

If a bad fuel pump causes your car to stall, you have to replace it. The best person to fix this problem is a qualified car mechanic. You need to get your car to the nearest car repair shop to fix this problem.

2. No More Fuel in the Tank

This is the simplest reason your car shuts off while driving, and the Check Engine light doesn’t come on.

Failure to Check the Amount of Fuel in the Tank

Many drivers encounter this problem because they fail to check the amount of fuel in their tanks before driving. Or perhaps, their fuel gauge is not working, so they can’t check the gas level in their tanks.

Fill up Your Gas Tank

You need to check the fuel level in your tank before driving, especially if your fuel gauge is malfunctioning. The only fix to this problem is buying fuel from the gas station and filling up your car’s fuel tank. And if your fuel gauge is not working, have it replaced by a qualified mechanic.

3. Fuel Filter Is Clogged

Clogged Fuel Filter Reduce the Fuel’s Flow Rate

If the fuel filter is already clogged up with dirt and debris, it will reduce the flow rate of the fuel being pumped inside the cylinders. Not enough fuel will get to the cylinders, and the engine will misfire. If this is not corrected, the engine will eventually stop.

Indication of This Problem

If you step on the accelerator pedal and nothing happens, then this is the cause of the problem. This is an indication of a fuel system problem. Most likely, the fuel filter is clogged. Its function is to filter out any dirt and debris from the fuel so it won’t enter the combustion chamber.

Have the Fuel Filter Replaced Every Time You Have an Oil Change

Over time the fuel filter gets clogged up with dirt and debris. When this happens, several issues will crop up. One of them is your car stalling while you are driving. To fix this problem, it is a good practice to have the fuel filter replaced every time you have an oil change.

4. Alternator Problem

Converts Chemical Energy from the Car Battery to Electrical Energy

The alternator is an essential part of your car because it is the one that converts the chemical energy from the car battery to electrical energy so that it can supply electricity to all the electrical components of your car. It also recharges the battery as well.

Car’s Electrical Devices Won’t Work

So, if the alternator is not working, you won’t be able to operate your car’s electrical devices. More importantly, the battery will die. If your battery dies, your car stops. There is no way to start your car but to recharge your battery. If the alternator is the problem, you have to fix or replace it.

Battery Light on Your Dashboard Suddenly Comes on

You’ll know if the alternator is failing if the battery light on your dashboard suddenly comes on. It indicates that your car will still run for a couple of minutes and then stop.

Take Your Car to a Qualified Car Mechanic

It means no power or electricity is being supplied to the car. You have to take your car to a qualified car mechanic and ask them to do the necessary repair or replacement to fix this problem.

5. Bad Ignition Switch

car dies while driving and wont start

Connects the Current from the Battery to the Starter Motor

The job of the ignition switch is to connect the current from the battery to the starter motor so that it can rotate. When the starter motor rotates, it comes into contact with the flywheel connected to the engine’s crankshaft.

As soon as the crankshaft rotates, the car engine starts. So, it all starts with the ignition switch. If it is malfunctioning, your car will stop. You won’t be able to start it until you fix the ignition switch.

Worn Out Internal Contacts

The ignition switch can fail if its internal contacts are already worn out. This will result in voltage loss because of heat and strong vibrations. Worn out ignition switch is typical for high mileage and old vehicles. Again, the fix required on this issue is available from your trusted car mechanic.

6. Bad Sensors

Most cars today are run by ECUs or engine control units. In laymen’s terms, most cars are now controlled by computers. Your car’s ECU uses many sensors to control your car’s many components and functions.

Sensors Track the Movement of Critical Car Components

These sensors track the movement of critical car components and give commands to the ECU according to the signals that the sensors send to it. The ECU then sends these signals to the actuators in your car, like the fuel injectors and the spark plugs, at certain times and sequences.

Malfunctioning Sensors Will Send the Wrong Readings to ECU

If a sensor is malfunctioning, it will send wrong readings to the ECU regarding the condition of your car. This will result in wrong commands to the actuators, like no injector pulse or no spark plug signals.

Your car’s performance will be affected, and eventually, it will stop. Competent car mechanics best handles problems with fuel injectors.

7. Bad Battery

Helps the Alternator Maintain the Right Voltage

Malfunctioning battery is also one of the common reasons why cars will not run. Many drivers assume that the battery’s only job is to start the car. This is not true because it also helps the alternator maintain the right voltage while the car is running.

Overworked Alternator Causes Additional stress on the Car Engine

If the battery is malfunctioning, the alternator will work harder to maintain the right voltage that your car needs. An overworked alternator causes additional stress on the car engine. If this goes on and on, eventually, your car will stall. Your car dies while driving but still has power.

Buy a New Battery

You can fix this problem by buying a new battery and installing it yourself if you are handy with common tools and know-how to work with car batteries. That will save you labor costs.

Again, what would cause a car to die while driving suddenly? When your car suddenly dies while driving, you have to check your battery or alternator. Also, inspect your car’s electrical systems, terminals, connectors, drive belts, and fuel, and check whether the fuel filter is clogged.

8. Power Drain Caused by the Air Conditioner

Is your car losing power when it is hot outside? If so, the air conditioning system could be draining electricity from your car’s power source. Under this condition, your car’s AC will consume more than its share of power.

AC Is Siphoning Power Off to Cool Down Your Cabin

If you are undertaking a long trip during summer, you may feel that it’s getting hard for your car to pull the weight that it has no problem pulling before.

The engine is probably hard-pressed because the AC is siphoning power off to cool down your cabin. It might even cause your car to stall if there’s no more power left to share.

Turn Off Your Car’s AC

You can prevent this problem by turning off your AC whenever you feel the engine struggling to pull your vehicle. Or you could have your AC and electrical systems checked by a car electrician to implement the proper fix.

9. Clogged Diesel Particulate Filter

If a diesel engine runs your car, it will have a diesel particulate filter (DPF). Its function is to keep away particulate matter from diesel fuel. Like any filter, it can get clogged over time. Once it gets blocked, your car will switch to ‘limp-home mode’ to prevent further damage to the engine.

Suppose you think your car shifts to this mode; limit your driving to only a few miles. You have to take your car to the nearest car repair shop so that a qualified mechanic can check it.

10. Bad Fuel Injector

Clogged or leaking fuel injectors can happen to high mileage cars. When a car has this problem, it will have trouble revving up at high RPMs.

If a car has fuel injection problems, it will also manifest issues with its ignition system, misfiring in the combustion chambers, or even the smell of fuel in and around the vehicle. These problems can also cause your car to stall. Only a qualified car mechanic can fix this issue.

What to Do When a Car Died While Driving and Won’t Start

car died while driving and now won't start

It’s very stressful for your car to die while on a freeway. But don’t panic. There is a way out of this problem:

1. Safety Is Your First Concern

If your car suddenly dies while driving, your first concern is safety for you and your passengers and the other motorists on the highway. Keep your cool, and nobody will get hurt.

2. Get Your Vehicle Out of the Way

Turn on the hazard lights to warn other vehicles from your rear and the vehicles going in the opposite direction.

Your steering wheel can get stuck but try to steer your vehicle to the shoulder of the road. And when you are already there, activate the parking brake so your vehicle won’t move.

3. Perform a Preliminary Check on Your Vehicle

Now that your car is safe on the road do a preliminary check of your vehicle. If the dashboard shows a warning light, it could be a battery issue. Perhaps it is not charging. But the alternator could also be the problem.

Inspect the electrical system, the terminals, and the connectors. If the connectors are loose, tighten them. You should also inspect the drive belt if it is already loose or damaged. Replace this belt if it is already damaged.

4. Restart Your Car Again

Try to restart the engine. If it restarts again, perhaps it’s a problem with a clogged fuel filter. If it won’t restart after unclogging or even replacing the fuel filter, perhaps it’s a weak or failing fuel pump problem. You need to check the pump and the fuel hoses.

The point here is to keep on checking until you get to the source of the problem. You know that there are many reasons why your car will suddenly die while you are driving. So, you have to check all these possible causes until you get to why your car stopped running.

If your car turns off while driving and then turns back on after it has cooled down, it could be a problem with its engine management system or the ECU. In this case, it is best if you will take your car to the nearest car repair center so a qualified mechanic can check it.

This is very technical for an ordinary car owner to understand and repair. Ordinary car owners don’t have the tools, skills, and knowledge to repair these car problems, but reputable car repair shops have all the tools and the manpower to fix them.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you want to know what you can do if your car suddenly stalls in traffic, more information is here. They are the answers to the often asked questions about this topic:

Why Did My Car Die While I Was Driving and It Won’t Start?

There are many reasons why your car stalled while driving and won’t start again. It could be a problem with the battery or the alternator. Checking the terminals and connectors will help pinpoint the problem.

What Are the Other Causes of This Problem?

It could also be a problem with the fuel pump or the fuel injectors. If there’s no fuel being supplied to the combustion chambers, the engine won’t be able to turn over, and your car will abruptly stop.

It could also be a problem of lack of fuel. If your car runs out of fuel, you won’t be able to start it. A faulty fuel gauge causes this problem. So, if you will replace an inaccurate fuel gauge, you won’t run out of fuel because there is something that will tell you that you are low on fuel.

The problem can also be due to a clogged fuel pump. Even if you have plenty of fuel inside your tank, but it can’t flow correctly to the combustion chambers because the fuel filter is clogged, there will be no combustion that will take place. As a result, your car will stop.

What Happens If the Alternator Dies While I’m Driving?

If the alternator fails while you are driving, the battery will be required to supply all the electrical power that your car needs. But that can’t last long. The battery and the alternator work together. The alternator replenishes its juices as you drive your car.

So, if the alternator fails, the juices of the battery will not be recharged. As you continue to drive your car, you will consume all the juices left in the battery. When it is all consumed, the battery will die, and so will your car.

In Closing: Why Your Car Dies and Won’t Start Again

If you are driving your car and it suddenly dies, and won’t start again, perhaps the alternator is not working, or probably it is a problem with the battery. These are two of the most common reasons for this problem.

There are other parts of your car that, if not working, can cause your car engine to die. These car parts are grouped in separate systems. If any of these parts or systems are not functioning, it will affect your car’s performance. It will even cause it to stop if the problem is severe.

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