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Car Shuts Off While Driving

The functioning of the components of a car is complicated due to so many different parts performing functions. However, if a part starts malfunctioning, the entire system can come to a halt. The worst possible scenario is your car shutting off while you are driving.

You will not get a car mechanic instantly in the middle of a road and hence, you should know about the reasons why your car has shut off. Along with those, you should know the troubleshooting steps so that you can fix the issue.

Reasons Why A Car Shuts Off While Driving

1. Running Out of Fuel

Running Out of Fuel

If your vehicle does not have any fuel, it will shut off while driving. Without fuel, you will not be able to run the car. It is advisable to check the fuel rather than just assuming if there is any mechanical failure. This primarily happens when people are lazy or when they underestimate the fuel limit.

The engine will stop and it can even happen due to a stuck fuel gauge. Do note that a stuck fuel gauge does not come with any warning. You will not get the correct indication and you may run out of fuel which will shut off driving. Sometimes even a frozen fuel line can make the car stop.

2. Dead Car Battery

Dead Car Battery

Other than the fuel, it is the car battery that helps to kick start the vehicle. By delivering the right power, you will be able to start the combustion process. Even though the battery does not power the car, it is responsible for starting the car. A car battery can also power other components. When the battery is not able to charge correctly, your car will shut off immediately. You will have to see if the battery is not dead. Apart from stopping your car, there can even be short circuits while driving.

When the alternator is not working, the car will use the battery. With a dead car battery, your car will die too. The battery will not last long if the alternator is dead. A multimeter will allow you to check the car battery status. When the battery is less than 12.6V, it is not fully charged. You need a battery replacement if it is below 11.7V as it has less than 25% of the charge.

3. Alternator Issues

Alternator Problems

The alternator is responsible for running the different components of the car smoothly. It is the powerhouse of your vehicle and if it does not work properly, the car will turn off. The alternator helps to manage the supply of electricity by recharging the battery. When there is a bad alternator, your car will shut off while driving. This primarily happens as it affects the power supply.

Alternator issues will make the engine lose power. However, the alternator will rarely fail. You will have to identify the problem before you happen to face the issue while driving. When the alternator dies, the battery will supply power. This can happen only for a short period as the battery cannot provide power for the entire vehicle. The car will then shut off eventually after stalling.

4. Faulty Fuel Pump

Faulty Fuel Pump

To move the car, the engine will have to provide a steady fuel supply. Your car will shut off while driving if the fuel supply is affected. The fuel system will never make the tank reach the engine with fuel. It is just like not providing any fuel to the engine. For this, it is important to check the faulty fuel pump. It can affect the continuous power which supplies fuel to the engine.

When there is a bad fuel pump, there is a likelihood of experiencing engine shutoffs. At times, it can also be due to the fuel filter. In most cases, the car will not continue to turn off and even the fuel supply line can create the same problem. It is advisable to diagnose the fuel system with a professional.

5. Electrical Cable Failure

Electrical Cable Failure

Another reason that can make the car shut off while driving is due to electrical cable failure. Many things such as the alternator and spark plugs can even lead to a faulty electrical cable. The cables are important components that help to generate enough power. If it is defective or loose, the vehicle will also lose power. It can lead to an unexpected shut-off of the engine. Before the car reaches this stage, it can even reflect signs like reduced engine performance and lack of acceleration. It will be better to determine if there is any electrical cable failure.

6. Ignition System Problems

Ignition System Problems

When any component of the ignition system has a problem, then your car will shut off when you drive. The ignition system is very important for supplying power to the car. When there is any faulty ignition system, it can lead to various problems including the start. It can provide weak combustion that can make the car switch off while driving. Many causes can lead to the problem like a faulty ignition relay or worn-out ignition switch.

7. Defective Engine Control Unit

The ECU or Engine Control Unit is an important component in the vehicle. It controls most of the operations and is a small computer task. ECU makes sure that the vehicle runs smoothly and helps to identify if there is any problem. The ability to control different mechanisms of the engine helps to deliver optimal engine performance.

However, when the car computer is not functioning properly, it can make the engine lose power. If the ECU fails, you will not be able to drive your car. At times, the car will shut off randomly and then bounce back. This can happen when the ECU loses spark, power, or fuel-efficiency. There are many reasons that can cause the malfunctioning of the computer. If there are any issues, you can confirm with the engine light.

To determine if the ECU is functioning properly, you will have to get an OBD scanner. Keep in mind that diagnosing or inspecting your ECU can be very difficult. Only a professional mechanic can diagnose the ECU with the right tools, understanding, and software.

Possible Solutions to Car Shuts Off While Driving

Many reasons can cause the car to shut off while driving. However, what matters most is how you deal with the situation. Here are some of the ways that will allow you to find the right solution depending upon the issue.

1. Check and Tighten Electric Cables

One of the easiest ways to fix the vehicle will be to loosen the electrical cables. Most importantly, you don’t have to hire a professional mechanic and you can do it on your own. However, this is only when you suspect if the problem is due to cables. When the car shuts off due to cables, you can fix them instantly. Look for the one that comes from the fuse box and battery. Try to locate the loose cable and then tighten it smoothly. In some cases, you will also find permanent damage on a cable. It is important to replace the cable to fix the problem.

2. Install a New Fuel Pump

When there is a problematic fuel pump, there can be many issues like loss of acceleration and power and the car shutting off. You will have to fix it to deal with the problem. The ideal solution will be to replace the bad fuel pump. If you happen to be an experienced motorist then you can easily replace it without any professional help.

3. Clean or Replace the Alternator

To prevent an expected shutoff of the car, you will have to keep the alternator and battery connection clean. This will also help to provide smooth functioning of the car. When there is a faulty alternator, you can easily tell from various symptoms including flickering of the headlights, rough engine running, fast battery drainage, and dashboard warning light. You can easily clean the alternator. If you happen to damage it, you can even replace it on your own. The alternator comes at an affordable value and allows you to have quick maintenance.

4. Take Vehicle for Comprehensive ECU Inspection

It is important to inspect the ECU from time to time. The ECU is an important component of the vehicle. However, when it causes the vehicle to shut off or misbehaves, then you will not be able to fix it on your own. You will have to get an OBD2 scanner to get some idea regarding the error codes. It is advisable to take the vehicle to a professional and have a full ECU inspection.

5. Refuel the Car and Fix Fuel Gauge

Many times your car will start working when you refuel it. This is primarily when the vehicle runs out of fuel. Do keep in mind that you will have to check the fuel gauge. If it has any issues, then you need to fix them. A misbehaving fuel gauge will not give you the right indication of how much fuel is left.

What To Do If The Car Shuts Off While Driving?

If you happen to drive on the highway and your car turns off, then you will be in the middle of nowhere. It is important to maintain better safety and follow the necessary steps.

  • Pullover your car to side of the road

You need to stay calm and do not panic when your car shuts off while driving. Always take your car to the side and prevent any vehicles from behind to crash into the rear. In some cases, your car will lose the ability to steer and brake. If you feel that slowing down the vehicle is difficult, you can make use of the emergency brake. This can cause an abrupt stop but helps to prevent stalling on the road.

  • Try To Restart Your Car

Once you are done taking a car on the side of the road, you can give an attempt to restart your car. If you happen to do it, you can take the car to the nearest auto repair shop.

  • Use Emergency Flares, Lights, Or Cones

If in any case, you are unable to restart the vehicle, you can make use of the emergency flashers. This will notify the drivers that you are not able to restart your car and it even helps to prevent merging into traffic. In doing so, you can figure out what to do next and keep yourself safe.

  • Seek Help from Roadside or Emergency Services

Finally, you can get help from roadside assistance services which are operational 24/7. Make use of the emergency number and try to seek help. When your phone is not working, the police can also help contact roadside assistance. If by any chance, your car starts again, you can get home safely. However, do use an OBD2 scanner to know if the engine control unit has any trouble codes. This will make sure there will be proper diagnostics.


When your car shuts off while driving, it is extremely troublesome. You can always prevent it by reading the warning signs using various car checkup devices available. If you are a car owner and you drive your own car, you should go through the article minutely and keep all the points in mind. You will come across such a worst-case scenario when the troubleshooting steps will be extremely useful.

One Response

  1. Thanks for the subjection and advise. But I don’t really have so much idea on most of the electrical fuse and cables mentioned, but I’ll definitely seek the help of a professional..

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