Car Stalling? Here Is What You Need To Know

As a vehicle owner, you may have been through a situation where your car stalls. Whether it’s related to poor air flow or problems with your stick shift, it is a challenging situation to run into. With this guide, we can help you ensure that this problem is handled correctly.

The most common reasons your car stalls come from low fuel, no air, or not enough energy. This could be related to a faulty fuel pump, ignition coil, or faulty sensors in your vehicle. 

This isn’t great to deal with, so the remainder of the article will be devoted to different situations that cause your car to stall. If you make any repairs, be sure that your battery is disconnected, your parking brake is on, and you have immobilizers placed. 

Staying Safe When Your Engine Stalls On The Road

If your car stalls on the road, your first step is to get it to a safe location. Start by turning on your emergency lights and pulling off the road when it is secure. Do not try to drive into traffic approaching from behind. If you stall at an intersection, do not leave your vehicle. 

When you are on the roadside, keep your emergency lights on and pull up your hood. It provides a bigger target to other drivers, reducing the chance of a collision. If you can, call emergency roadside assistance through your insurance. If you do not have an emergency roadside service, call 911 for help.

The Common Issues For Stalled Cars: Fuel Problems

We already know that forgetting to fill up your car can cause a stalled engine. But what about not getting the fuel to your engine in the first place? 

A faulty fuel pump can prevent gas from getting to where it needs to be, causing many potential issues. While you can check with your mechanic to see what’s up, you first need to check your battery. We will circle back to low power issues a bit later.

There’s also a chance you may find water in your gas tank, which is a sign that you need to keep your car full of gasoline. Having an empty gas tank causes condensation to build up in your vehicle. If left untreated, this can result in frozen fuel lines. 

When your car doesn’t get enough power, that will typically cause many issues. Perform a battery test at your local auto shop to see if your battery still works. HEET, which is a product made to remove condensation, can be used to fix this issue. 

Finally, placing the wrong kind of fuel in your vehicle will also cause car stalling. For example, diesel cannot go into a car that takes unleaded fuel. 

Transmission Issues – The Second Most Common Car Stalling Issue

Automatic and manual transmissions are entirely different beasts when it comes to stalling. Surprisingly enough, it is far easier to diagnose problems in a manual transmission in this case.

A manual transmission typically stalls out when you fail to release the clutch at the right time. If you allow the RPMs to drop too low in your vehicle, your manual transmission will not like that. Typically, this means you have released the clutch too quickly. 

Check out this video below if you want to find out how to release your clutch the right way:

Issues in automatic cars come from errors in your torque converter. The torque converter is a part of your vehicle that ensures your transmission fluid gets to where it needs to be. If you have dirty fluid, your car isn’t going to run correctly. If your car stalls while idling, replace your fluid.

You may also perform a stall speed test.

How Can A Stall Speed Test Help You Determine What Is Causing Your Car To Stall?

A stall speed test determines if your automatic transmission is causing your car to stall. Follow the instructions below if you want to run this test on your vehicle.

  1. Use your owner’s manual to find out what your car’s RPMs should be.
  2. Place bricks behind your vehicle and activate the parking brake. 
  3. Press down your standard brake and turn on the ignition of your car.
  4. Do not release the brake.
  5. Using your other foot, press down on the accelerator for about five seconds.
  6. Check your RPM reader, next to your speedometer, to see if you have the right RPMs

If the RPMs match what is in your owner’s manual, your automatic transmission is working correctly.

Your Car Needs Clean Air – Replace Your Air Filter

  • Pollen
  • Dirt
  • Dust
  • Leaves 

The list above includes the most common reasons your air filter clogs. The air filter prevents some bad stuff from getting to your engine. Replace your air filter every three years if you want to avoid a stalled engine. It will also improve your fuel economy and prevent your check engine light from turning on.

What Does It Mean When Your Car Stalls While Idling?

If your car stalls while idling, it could be related to the following areas:

  • Dirty spark plugs
  • Busted wires 
  • Ignition coil issues
  • Water in your fuel tank
  • Dirty air filter
  • Vacuum hose issues
  • Crankshaft/camshaft sensors

The most common issue among these is a leak in your vacuum hose. This leak is typically caused by driving along rough roads, having a piece of that road fly up and puncture one of your hoses.

You may also have bad or dirty spark plugs. If you want to learn how to clean spark plugs, check out the video below:

Busted wiring is somewhat complicated, as those wires could be anywhere in your car. For most of these other issues, check with your local auto shop to find out what they suggest. 

The Worst Possible Moment – Your Car Stalls While Turning 

If you start to feel your foot brake firm up and your car stops making noise as you turn, don’t panic. Instead, let your car roll (if at all possible) and turn on your emergency lights to inform the people around you. Try to roll as far as you can, only using the brake once you’ve reached a safe location.

The problem most likely comes from your power steering system related to the manifold absolute pressure (MAP) sensor. This will most likely happen if you find yourself making a sharp turn, which informs the MAP sensor to adjust your ignition timing and fuel mix. 

If My Car Needs Clean Air, Can Smoke Make My Car Stall? 

If you have ever been through a wildfire, you know it’s a terrible idea to drive your car through one. That’s because there is a high chance that the dense smoke can cause your vehicle to stall. 

Your air filter and other components of your car need clean air to function correctly. Without clean air, your car’s cooling system will begin to overheat and malfunction, causing you to be stranded in the middle of nowhere.

It is entirely normal, so you won’t likely need to bring your vehicle to a mechanic if your car stalls in a wildfire. You probably shouldn’t drive your vehicle through any natural disaster. 

How Much Does It Cost When I Need To Make A Repair Related To Car Stalling? (It’s Expensive)

Lower-end issues related to your car stalling typically cost around $150. These issues generally are cleaning spark plugs, replacing batteries, and dirty air filters. If you are lucky, you can just buy a bottle of HEET and spend no more than $20. 

Middle-range cost items are no more than $1000, which include things like this:

  • Replaced fuel pumps
  • Replaced sensors
  • Replaced transmissions 

However, significant issues related to the engine can drive costs up to $3000. 

What Are Some Ways I Can Prevent Expensive Car Stalling Repairs?

Prevent the more expensive variants of these repairs by bringing your car in for regular service. Through standard service, you can catch minor repairs before they turn into questions on whether or not you want to continue investing in your car. 

Also, adhering to a regular maintenance schedule will improve your car’s quality of life. A vehicle that typically lasts five years in other hands will last ten years in your hands.


If your car is stalling, it is your responsibility to take care of it and remove it from the road. If you manage to get caught while moving, activate your emergency lights, and contact roadside assistance or emergency services. If you are stuck at an intersection, do not leave your car. 

Issues behind car stalling can come from anywhere. These issues include low fuel, the wrong fuel, low batteries, or a punctured vacuum hose. Whatever the case may be, costs for this sort of repair can be anywhere from $150 to $3000. 

Be sure to catch car issues as early as possible; that way, you can avoid some of the more expensive costs behind repairing a stalled car. By following these suggestions, your vehicle will no longer be stalling soon enough.

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