If you have not experienced it before, having your car’s engine suddenly shut down while driving can be scary. Do not panic. There are many reasons for this, and a trained auto repair professional can help detect the source of the problem and provide the right solution.
Clogged Fuel Filter and Injector
The car might stop or not start at all if the fuel filter is dirty. The same applies when a fuel injector is clogged. If these parts are not clean, they can prevent your car from receiving the gas it needs. Unfortunately, in this case, you need to be towed to an auto repair shop right away.
If the shop is closed, ask a friend to tow you home and back to the garage the next day. Do not attempt to drive the car. Even if you do, the engine will likely come on for a few minutes and then die. Cleaning filters and injectors requires advanced skills, so ask for assistance from an auto specialist.
Fuel Not Reaching Combustion Chamber
A faulty fuel pump may not create enough pressure to pump fuel to the injectors. When this happens, the vehicle shuts down. Typically, your car will turn on and allow you to drive for 15 to 30 minutes before the engine overheats and dies. If you restart the car and it happens again, it’s likely a fuel pump issue.
Many drivers are not keen on replacing a fuel pump, but it’s better to do it earlier than later. Describe the problem to a qualified mechanic and ask them to verify if the pump is the actual cause. You may also use temporary measures but make sure they are approved by an auto specialist first.
Engine Not Receiving Enough Air
Your car’s engine needs to have the right air-fuel mixture. As mentioned before, if the system does not get enough fuel, the car will shut down. Similarly, if the fuel system does not get enough air, the engine will die.
Airflow can be restricted if the air filter is clogged, and it will need to be cleaned or replaced by an auto repair expert. Another possible cause is a faulty throttle. When the throttle malfunctions, it cannot supply the air and fuel needed for your engine to produce power. Needless to say, this needs to be repaired by professionals as well.
Ignition System Malfunctioning
If the ignition switch fails to turn on your car’s interior lights, dashboard lights, headlights, door locks, radio, and other electrical components, the engine might be next. If the car manages to start, drive straight to the auto shop. You might have to have the ignition switch replaced.
The spark plug, also a part of the ignition system, can be dirty or faulty. Because it’s responsible for producing the electric current that burns fuel and powers your car, this issue could stop your engine from running. Have it repaired professionally.
Battery Keeps Dying
An old or faulty car battery will eventually cause your car to shut down if it is not replaced. However, newer batteries can also shut off your engine if there are too many electrical devices pulling power from it.
Cars with many electrical devices — radio, computers, ignition, etc. — can overload the alternator, which is the component responsible for charging the battery. Even when the car is off, some of these devices might keep drawing power.
If your battery is in fairly good condition but keeps dying, ask an auto technician to help you manage electrical devices and to adjust settings to avoid draining power.
As a driver, you are likely to experience sudden albeit infrequent shutdown throughout the life span of your car. The best preventative measure is to schedule regular maintenance checks with an auto repair shop. Have the fuel system inspected, filters cleaned or replaced, and battery tested to ensure your safety on the road.