car starts and then dies

5 Reasons Your Car May Start and Die and How To Fix It

If you’ve hard a car start up and immediately die, your first thought may be to your wallet. You may be asking how you are going to pay for this mess. As someone who has been in this situation, it is crucial to stay calm?

So, why does your car start and die? It could be related to an ignition coil, an air intake valve, a slipped timing belt, or a variety of other problems. With this list, we will go through some of the most common reasons.

An Important Consideration

Before beginning, you will likely need a diagnostic from a code reader. These readings are at many auto parts stores and any mechanic. You may also purchase one yourself, but this will take much of the guesswork out of this process.

Bad Ignition Coil

An ignition coil takes the energy that comes from your battery and increases it so that it is enough to start all of the functions of your car. If this fails, your vehicle won’t be able to maintain its energy.

How Do You Replace Ignition Coils?

First, you will need to purchase the necessary tools. These tools come to us in the form of an ignition coil replacement pack. The kit you will need depends on the year, make, and model of your car. Check your owner’s manual or speak to a trusted auto parts store representative with access to a parts database.

Always disconnect the battery before starting. Once you do this, you can locate the ignition coils on top of the engine. If your car has a distributor, follow the cables from this to your ignition coils.

Be sure to remember the position of the cables as you remove this. You will need to place those cables exactly where they were when this started. You may consider labeling them, but you will need to squeeze these cables to remove them.

Typically the coil itself has four bolts or screws you will need to remove. At this point, you should be able to slide it out and replace it with your new coil. Afterward, complete the process in reverse with extra care to not touch the spark plugs.

Bad or Dirty Idle Air Control Valve

This device controls the mixture of air and fuel inside the vehicle. It will regulate the car while it is idling. It will also control the amount of air and fuel as you turn on various features of your vehicle, such as air conditioning.

How Do You Replace An Idle Air Control Valve?

The first step is to disconnect the battery. You will also need to remove any additional wiring harnesses that are connected. Remember where they were, as you will need to put it back exactly as you had it.

The first step you will need to take is locating it. Its location depends on the year, make, and model of your vehicle. Your owner’s manual will provide you with that information.

You will also want to clean the place where the old valve was, which is just good practice anytime you want to replace parts. The video below will provide you with a good idea of what to expect during this process.

Slipped or Broken Timing Belt or Chain

If the timing belt on your engine slips or wears, it is undoubtedly time for a replacement. Signs of this can also lead to several engine misfires, which are easy to hear. Take a look at the belt to see if it is off or worn; it is typically on the side or front of the engine.

How Do I Replace A Timing Belt?

As always, disconnect the negative battery before beginning this process. The details on what exactly you will need, including the belt size, will be included in the owner’s manual. You will also want to clean as you go and check for any additional wires or sensors which will be in your owner’s manual.

One of the bolts labeled in your manual will reference a belt tensioner, which you will need to loosen. You will then need to remove the crankshaft pulley. It may also be a good idea to replace your serpentine belt at the same time, as this is the hardest step, and those have a high failure rate that may match the age of the belt you are replacing.

Be aware of how the belt is installed in the first place, as you will want to match that placement. The belt should be tense enough that it requires some effort to turn, but not loose enough that it is secure. Provided it matches how the belt was prior, you should be fine.

Bad Fuel Pump

Combine the act of a car suddenly dying with a leaky fuel pump, and you have an easy answer. This concern goes back to the necessity of tracking your air and fuel mixture. This malfunctioning will make it, so your engine does not have enough fuel.

How Do You Replace A Fuel Pump?

Replacing a fuel pump is incredibly complicated in most vehicles. Because of this, you should consult a professional before beginning. It will require a jack, a tool for removing the fuel line, and a transmission jack to support the fuel tank.

If you have a full tank, be incredibly careful about its position. A single slip could result in a great deal of fuel falling to the ground and another damaged part. The video below will provide you with a comprehensive list of tests and the replacement process.

Bad Engine Control Unit

These days, it is impossible for you to go anywhere without having technology. It is especially true in modern vehicles, which have computers built into the car that control sensors and many aspects of a vehicle. The Engine Control Unit could be preventing you from starting your vehicle as a result.

How Do You Replace An Engine Control Unit (ECU)?

Thankfully, an ECU is reasonably easy to replace. You need to locate where it is through your owners manual, disconnect the battery, remove all the wires, and replace the unit. Typically, they are secured using your typical screws.

The most significant pain that comes with this issue is the cost. Given we are talking about a complicated computer unit, you could end up spending almost $1000. A code reader will be beneficial in this situation, as it may prevent you from having to drop unnecessary cash.


When your car suddenly dies on you, it is not a pleasant situation. During these situations, it is incredibly helpful to have a code reader at hand. It will allow you to pinpoint these issues quickly.

Many of these are also reasonably simple to handle yourself. Replacing a belt or ignition coils are pretty simple, but there are always a few that are a bit more complicated. By keeping this short guide in mind, you will have an awareness of many potential problems and solutions.

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