Car Engine Suddenly Stops While Running: How To Fix This?

Did you know that the engine is the heart and major part of the car? Without the engine, a powerful car is nothing but a heavy machine. You got to give proper care to your engine to enjoy the long run of your car. But what if your car engine suddenly stops while running? What if it stopped while you were stuck in the middle of traffic or in a muddy road? What would you do?

This article will show you how must you react and what should you do in case of this stressful scenario. We’ll also recall and list the tips on how to prevent this from happening. So without further ado, let’s identify the common causes why your car engine suddenly stops.


car engine
Photo credits: Tim Mossholder

Ah, the joy of driving. You’re cruising along, enjoying a tune on the radio or chatting with your passengers, and then, suddenly, your car engine shuts off. It’s not unusual for cars to stall when they get older. The problem can be caused by anything from a loose gas cap to a faulty fuel pump. Before you start pulling wires out of your dashboard in frustration, let’s look at some common causes of sudden car engine stalls so we can figure out how to fix them!

? Fuel Pump

The fuel pump is one of the most common reasons for a car engine to suddenly stop while running. The fuel pump is an electric motor that moves gasoline from your gas tank to the engine. This pump is located under or behind your car’s front grille and often has a cap you can remove to check its fluid level. If it’s low on fluid, fill it up with new gasoline.

If your car won’t start because of a bad fuel pump, there are a number of possible causes:

>>Fuel Pump Failure

This can happen when dirt builds up in the system that surrounds the pump or if there’s damage to any part of it. Either way, this will make it difficult for gas to get through smoothly enough so that both ignition and combustion will work properly (which means no power at all).

>>Fuel Pump Relay Failure

This could be caused by anything from faulty wiring connectors/harnesses going into/out from relay contacts inside the relay housing box located near the battery compartment cover plate screw hole area(s). Also includes electrical shorts between relay terminal posts when installing a new relay unit into the existing bracket location around the top edge outer wall surface area.

? Vapour Lock

Vapour lock is a condition in which fuel vaporizes in the fuel line and causes the engine to stop running. In most cases, this happens when you’re parked with your key off, but it also can occur while driving.

>>What causes vapour lock?

It’s usually due to heat or pressure changes within the engine. When vapour (essentially liquid fuel) accumulates in your vehicle’s fuel system, it expands and pushes out air, preventing the proper operation of your car’s carburetor or fuel injection system. If enough vapour gets into this area, it can cause trouble by blocking gas flow altogether. Or, it can cause rough idling problems that may lead to stalling out completely!

>>How to prevent vapour lock?

Avoid letting your tank go empty as much as possible. This is because it will allow more air space for fluid expansion during hot weather conditions. Keeping a quarter tank of gas will help prevent this problem from occurring on its own accord later down the road when temperatures start rising again outside (which causes more evaporation). 

If there isn’t enough room left inside then extra precautions should be taken. You can do such as adding extra coolant fluid like antifreeze to keep things cool under pressure. This is especially advised since new cars today typically run hotter than older ones did back then due largely because engines are designed differently now so heat buildup could happen faster now than ever before!

? Fuel Line Is Partially Obstructed

Your fuel line may be partially obstructed. To check the fuel line, you can take out the gas tank and look at the fuel lines going into it. If they are dirty or clogged with debris, you need to clear them with a stiff wire brush (avoid damaging rubber hoses). You can also use compressed air to blow out dirt and obstructions from your tank’s internal filter.

If that doesn’t work, then you may have an engine problem that requires professional assistance to repair.

? Engine Is Flooded

If you have an older model car, it’s possible that the fuel pump is failing. If this is the case, then you’ll notice your car won’t start after it has been running for a while and then died. It may also be hard to restart the vehicle once it does shut off.

If your car has a carburetor and not a fuel injection system, then this can be another reason why it won’t start back up again after being turned off for some time. The carburetor gets flooded when too much fuel is supplied to it or if there is too little air moving through its passages. Carburetors use floats to control how much fuel enters them. However, these floats are prone to failure over time causing excessive amounts of gas in there. Wherein this will cause flooding problems later on down the road (pun intended).

? Thermostat Failure

The thermostat is a temperature control device that restricts the flow of coolant when it is cold and allows coolant to flow freely when it is hot. This is important because your engine relies on a steady stream of coolant to operate at its most efficient. And if your car’s thermostat fails, this can cause serious problems for your vehicle.

The thermostat is located in the engine block. When it gets too cold outside, the thermostat restricts the flow of coolant. This happens so that only enough comes through to keep things running smoothly at low temperatures. And this means, there’s not enough heat energy in the system. Once temperatures get up into normal operating range again (around 180 degrees F), however, there won’t be any restriction on how much heat energy flows through your engine. Thanks to this simple but effective piece of kit!

? IAC Valve Malfunctioning

The IAC (Idle Air Control) valve is the part of your vehicle’s engine that controls airflow into the intake manifold. It does this by regulating how much air can enter the engine at idle. Which, in turn, determines how much fuel is added to the mixture.

When it becomes unable to function properly, your car’s engine may stop running. This is due to a lack of power and it will not accelerate or idle correctly. The most common cause of failure is corrosion or deterioration from age or exposure to water or other contaminants.

To test for IAC malfunctioning, perform a visual inspection of its components. If any are damaged or cracked then it needs replacing before further damage occurs.

? Throttle Plate Is Stuck Open

If the throttle plate is stuck open, the engine will run lean. This can cause the engine to stall for a number of reasons, including:

  • The piston is unable to move up and down properly because it’s hitting against an obstruction in its path.
  • The fuel mixture in your car’s combustion chamber gets too lean. This is due to air rushing past an open throttle plate while you’re moving forward at high speeds.

The first step you should take when checking if your car has a problem with its throttle plate is revving up your engine while giving it lots of gas. If you hear a rattle, like marbles rolling around inside of something, there could be something wrong with your throttle plate. It could be stuck open or closed!

? Ignition Coil Failure

An ignition coil is a device that converts the 12-volt power of your vehicle’s electrical system into the thousands of volts necessary to ignite the air/fuel mixture in your engine. Ignition coils are located inside the distributor cap. Wherein, it is a part of your distributor assembly and includes other components such as spark plugs and wires as well.

If you’re experiencing issues with your vehicle’s ignition system, here are some possible reasons why:

>>Failure of one or more ignition coils.

If one or more coils fail on their own, it could cause misfires and other problems within your engine’s combustion cycle. This may cause your car to suddenly stop running when driving down the road. It could also lead to overheating issues if this problem persists for long periods of time without getting fixed properly first.

>>Worn spark plugs

Spark plugs need replacing every 100k miles or so depending on how often they wear out from normal use. And these vary depending on how much mileage each car has driven since the last replacement. When worn-out spark plugs become oxidized at high temperatures, they allow gas molecules within cylinders not to get ignited properly. This can lead them to stop working altogether causing a sudden loss in power output during operation.


If your engine stops, do not panic! Here’s how you must react.

? Have a plan in place.

If you’re caught in traffic or otherwise stuck on the road, you might be tempted to sit in your car until help comes. This is not a good idea, because it’s dangerous and possibly illegal (depending on local laws). Instead, have an exit strategy that involves getting out of the car and walking away from the vehicle as quickly as possible.

? The car engine stopped and tucked in snow/mud.

Know how to react if your car gets stuck in snow or mud. Most modern vehicles are equipped with four-wheel drive and electronic traction control systems that make getting out of various types of difficult terrain much easier. But make sure there’s plenty of room between other cars before putting those features into action. Other drivers may get spooked by your sudden change in direction!

? Plan a shelter.

If there are no other cars around when yours stops running, or if they’re driving too fast for you to catch up with them, take shelter somewhere warm and dry until help arrives. No matter where you end up stranded (and even if it’s just at home), keep emergency contact numbers handy so someone can come to pick up stranded family members without delay.


When your car’s engine stops running, it can be scary. You might feel like you’re stuck in the middle of the road with no idea what to do. But there are steps that you can take to help keep yourself safe and make sure you don’t get into any trouble while waiting for roadside assistance to arrive!

? Check the dashboard.

If you don’t know what the warning lights mean, pull over and ask someone. This could be an onlooker or a police officer, who will likely have received training on how to help stranded motorists. Be aware that some light patterns indicate serious problems with your vehicle. And if you see one of these, it might be best to call a tow truck instead of attempting to fix the problem yourself.

If you do know what the warning lights mean and they don’t explain why your engine stopped, try starting your car again (if it hasn’t already started). If that doesn’t work, check all connections between the battery and starter motor for any loose wires or corrosion. This is because it is a common cause of car trouble. Then, check for fluid leaks under or around the engine block.

? Turn on the hazard lights.

If you’re in a situation where your car’s engine has stopped, but you can still move the car, turn on the hazard lights. The hazard lights are there to warn other drivers that something is happening with your vehicle. To turn them on, pull out the little lever above or next to your steering wheel and flip it toward you (in most cases).

When driving with the hazards on, keep an eye out for a safe place to pull over and park. When you get there, turn off your hazards so that people aren’t distracted when they come near or pass by.

? Pull over to the right side of the road and turn off the engine.

If you can feel your car is stopping, pull over to the right side of the road and turn off the engine. Then, go back to step #2 (turn on your hazard lights). Do not get out of your car or leave it until help arrives. This is important both for safety reasons and because it will make it easier for emergency responders to find you in an area that may already be congested with traffic jams due to another accident nearby.

? Open your hood, but stay where you are.

If the engine has stopped and you can’t revive it by pumping or turning the key, roll down your window and turn on your emergency flashers. Then open your hood but don’t move from where you are. If there are any signs of fire in the engine bay, stay back out of harm’s way as best as possible while still keeping an eye on things.

In most cases, however, this process is simply a precaution. You’re not looking for anything specific inside the engine compartment (like an overheated radiator). Instead, try to diagnose whether there’s fuel going into the carburetor or not (if there isn’t any fuel getting there). Then, check that all wires have been connected properly when necessary before moving forward with repairs or replacements.

? Put out flares or triangles in a safe place.

Don’t forget to put out flares or triangles in a safe place. Flares are reflective devices that can be used as a warning signal. Triangles are triangular-shaped signs used to warn other vehicles of potential hazards on the road. Drivers commonly use this for bad weather conditions or obstruction. It is important to inspect these items frequently and replace them if they become damaged or worn out. Here are some tips about putting flares and triangles.

>>Don’t put them on the road.

If you are going to use flares or triangles, it is not advisable that you drive over them with your vehicle. This is because it will damage them beyond repair and prevent other drivers from seeing their warnings when needed most!

>>Don’t put them too close to your car.

When setting up these emergency devices, try not placing them directly next to where you parked. This is because it could cause confusion for emergency responders who may think there’s been an accident nearby (when really there hasn’t).

? Call roadside assistance.

If your engine is not turning on, the first thing you should do is call roadside assistance. Here are some tips for making sure that you get in contact with them as quickly as possible:

  • Turn off the engine and make sure it’s cold before you call. If there’s any chance of starting up without getting help, do so first.
  • Have your phone number and roadside assistance number ready when calling so that they can contact you right away. If not already written down somewhere easily accessible (like in an emergency kit or glove compartment), then jot it down on a piece of paper and stick it near where you’ll be sitting while waiting for help to arrive.
  • Be specific about what happened when your vehicle stopped working. How long has it been since then? What exactly did happen?


car engine

If you want to make sure that your car engine runs better and lasts longer, then you will have to follow these tips.

? Keeping your engine clean

You should clean your engine regularly. The best way to do this is by using a hose, brush, and pressure washer. This is to remove any dirt and grime from the engine. If you have an especially dirty engine, try using a steam cleaner instead of water as it may be more effective at removing stubborn dirt that has accumulated over time.

Always remember that excessive heat can damage your car’s engine so avoid driving for long periods of time in hot weather conditions. Especially if you live in an area where temperatures are high all year round!

? Checking the oil level regularly

The oil should be checked every 3 months. If it’s been longer, check the oil level again. You should insert the dipstick into the dipstick hole and then twist it to show how much oil is in your engine. You can also use a paper towel to wipe off any excess oil on the stick so you can read it more easily.

If there’s less than 1/2 inch of engine oil left in your car after driving for about 100 miles at highway speeds or 40 minutes of gentle city driving, add 2 quarts of new motor oil before you drive further or get back on the road as soon as possible (in case someone needs help).

? Checking the anti-freeze level regularly

The anti-freeze is a mixture of water, anti-freeze (antifreeze), and corrosion inhibitors. When it is cold the mixture should be at least 50% anti-freeze. The advantage of using a little more than half anti-freeze is that it will prevent corrosion of your vehicle’s radiator system. This is a problem that can be caused by freezing water when it gets into the system.

To check if you have enough antifreeze in your car, open the hood and look for a container with various liquids inside. This will be your coolant reservoir or radiator tank. Open this reservoir and check if you have enough water left in there as well as some greenish liquid in it (your anti-freeze).

If you don’t see any green coloration then add some more antifreeze until you reach about 50% concentration between both fluids. Just make sure not to overfill! Once this has been done close up everything again and starts driving around for an hour or so. After that, stop again at the same spot where you checked earlier on for signs of leakage from any hoses connected to these tanks or reservoirs.

? Changing the spark plugs regularly

If you do not change your spark plugs regularly, it may lead to a lot of problems with your car. You need to keep in mind that this part is very sensitive and if it starts to deteriorate, then it will be hard for you to even start your engine. So, it’s better that you change them as soon as possible so that there are no issues with the vehicle.

If you want to know how long is too long between changes, then we suggest changing them every 15000 miles or 2-3 years. But this depends on how much use they have gotten since their last replacement. The best time for changing these is when the engine is cold. This is because it will make sure that there are no oil residues inside which might damage any part during the installation process.


? How long can you drive with a bad engine?

This is a question that’s difficult to answer for two reasons. The first reason is that it depends on how bad the engine is. If you’re having problems idling, or if you can’t maintain a consistent speed, then it’s probably time to think about replacing the car. On the other hand, if your engine sounds fine and runs smoothly when you accelerate from a stop and drive at highway speeds, then there’s no reason to worry about driving with this issue for years on end.

? What are the signs of a blown engine?

>>Smell of burning oil

If you smell burning oil, it may be a sign that something is wrong with your car’s engine.

>>Oil leaks

Oil leaks can be a symptom of a blown engine. In some cases, the oil filter needs to be tightened or replaced. If you are experiencing an oil leak, make sure to check the area around the filter and tighten it if necessary.

>>Smoke coming from under your hood

If you see smoke coming out of your engine or hear popping sounds while driving, this indicates that there is something wrong with your car’s engine. And you should not neglect this for a long time because it could lead to fire or serious damage.

>>Engine knocking

This is loud noise due to an abnormal movement of parts inside an engine while they are running at high speeds due to damaged pistons or rods causing them too much stress when being pushed against each other during operation.

? How do I know if my engine is damaged without oil?

You can check the oil level, pressure, and color to see if there is a leak. Check that your engine is not smoking or producing excessive amounts of smoke. If you notice this, then the engine may have damage and you will need to take it to a mechanic for a thorough inspection.

Other signs that your car’s engine needs attention include:

  • The temperature gauge going above normal levels;
  • Unusual noises coming from the engine;
  • Vibrations or shaking when driving at low speeds.

? Can low oil cause misfires?

Yes, low oil levels can cause misfires. Oil is a lubricant that helps to reduce friction between moving engine components. If there’s not enough oil in the engine, some of these parts may rub against each other and create friction. Friction causes heat, which damages engine components over time and can even lead to an engine fire!


The key to car engine care is maximizing the performance of your vehicle while minimizing any wear on vital parts. Your vehicle may not need service maintenance as often as you think. So if you’re looking to save money, talk to your mechanic about getting your car engine care done at intervals that don’t happen before you absolutely need it done.

If your car engine is too loud, check our next article to know the possible reasons and how to fix it. Just click here.