As a car owner and a driver, there is nothing more embarrassing than having your car stall while driving and then will not turn back on. Now, unless you are incredibly unlucky and the vehicle turns out to be a lemon, having this happen is rare, especially if you do regular maintenance on the car. However, it does occur in the course of every driver’s life, and in this article, we will try to demystify what to do when your car died while driving now won't start.

There are several reasons why such failures may happen but what is essential is that we know what happens when a vehicle dies in the middle of a drive and wont start again. More importantly, we will cover what to do to troubleshoot and how to analyze the problem before spending a ton of your hard-earned money on a professional mechanic.

What Would Cause a Car to Die While Driving And Not Start?

We did the hard work of researching the most common issues that might make your car stalled and wont start. The most common causes are discussed below.

Faulty Battery

The battery is one of the first suspects in the event a truck dies while driving. The battery’s job is not done at startup only as it powers a lot of the electronics inside a modern car today. When the battery is old and damaged, the alternator also works twice as hard to keep it charging. When a battery needs to be replaced, it could cause a vehicle engine to stall in the middle of a trip. An overworked alternator will cause the engine to shut off and cause the car not to start at all. When your truck dies while driving, always check the battery first, and in particular, make sure that the wires have a snug fit to the terminals. If the wires are secured it is time to check the battery itself to find out if it needs replacing, because it is not a good experience if your battery died while driving.

Running Out Of Fuel

While this may seem far-fetched, a lot of car stalls happen because of this. The worst reason would be that the owner is just plain lazy to fill up his or her tank, but sometimes the gauge itself can be the problem. Sometimes, the fuel indicator will say that the gas is still half full when in fact it is already empty. A faulty fuel gauge will cause some car cut off all the time. Without enough fuel the car literally runs out of gas and just stops.

Overheating engine

An overheated engine will stall and can damage the engine block itself. This usually happens because of the cooling system failure and it is also one of the more common reasons for car stalls while driving. Always make sure that your cooling system is in shape and the temperature gauge is working as it will immediately tell you if the temperature spikes. An overheating engine is not usually dangerous when caught early on, as it could simply be low on coolant and just needs topping up.

Bad Fuel Pump

A dead fuel pump will cause a car stopped in the middle of a drive. The job of this critical car part is to deliver fuel from the tank to the engine in an endless loop of combustion. When this part fails, the flow of fuel also stops, and then your car just died leaving you stuck in the middle of traffic. Even if the fuel pump is not completely dead, it would still cause enough problems.

Low Charge Alternator

Another culprit when your truck dies while driving is a faulty or dying alternator. This part is the one responsible for making sure that the battery is always charged as well as supplies power to electronics while the car is running. This is related to having a faulty battery as well because if that is the case, the alternator will take the full load and also be damaged as well. Spark plugs, which is how the engine fires up and starts burning fuel, consume the most electrical power in an engine and if the alternator is busted, it will cause the car to not start at all. Another crucial part, the fuel pump also gets its power from the alternator.

Malfunctioned Ignition Switch

When you find your car turned off while driving, another part that could be the source of the problem is a problematic ignition switch. This switch connects and disconnects the battery to the electronics inside the car and the all-important starter switch. If this part breaks down, the connection will be cut off and your car will not crank up at all and leave you stranded.

Wrong Signals Sensors

Most modern engines and vehicles manufactured after the year 2000 would be controlled by the ECU or a small computer called the Engine Control Unit. For the ECU to work, it depends on multiple sensors across points in the engine. These sensors give crucial information to the ECU to control the spark plugs, the injectors, and even the actuators. Faulty information from sensors can cause the engine to run erratically, even adding to your fuel consumption. If the sensors send the wrong or incomplete signal to the ECU, it would cause your car to stall and eventually stop working.

What to Do If Your Vehicle Dies When You Are Driving

It can be quite inconvenient, to say the least, if your ride suddenly stops working in the middle of traffic. However, the priority is to be safe and with that, make sure you get out of the way of incoming traffic. Once you get to the safe side of the road then that is the time to investigate using what we discussed above. Below are some very useful tips on what to do in case you experience a car stall while driving.

Try restarting the car again

If this happens during a drive, you can try to start the car again until you can get to a safer part of the road. Sometimes car stalls may just be hiccups and can start readily again. If the car restarts, get to safety and check all the relevant parts before going out into the road again. Just a reminder, while you attempt to restart the engine, make sure that you turn on the emergency hazard lights to let other drivers know that you are having trouble on the road.

Get out of the incoming traffic

If your car engine stops running while driving, it will usually have enough forward momentum to be able to bring you to the side of the road. Use this momentum to steer out of incoming traffic, and once done, make sure to turn on your hazard lights before coming out of your car to tinker around the engine bay.

Check all relevant gauges

When you get to a safe location, usually the side of the road, check the wiring first and make sure all are snugly fit and nothing is loose. Check the battery as well as any indicators on your dashboard. This is also a good time to check your temperature and fuel gauges and see if any are on the red. What is important is that when you have ticked all the boxes and still the car won’t start, you can be sure that you need to call for help. The 4 Most Important Gauges to Check – YouTube  
Just to make sure we cover all the bases, below are some of the most asked questions regarding car engine stalls especially when driving.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Can low oil cause a car to shut off?

Engine oil plays an important part in keeping your engine parts lubricated and cool. If there is a shortage of lubricating oil, metal parts will rub against each other, causing internal damage to the engine and will eventually make the engine seize up and stop working. This can cause major mechanical damage to your engine and is usually permanent. When your car senses that it has a very low oil level, it will stop the engine to prevent major damage. Fortunately, your vehicle will immediately tell you if your car needs oil replacement and problems caused by low oil only happens if the owner has been extremely negligent in car maintenance.

Why is my car shutting off when I stop?

Unless it’s a modern car that has the start-stop feature installed, it is normal. However, for older vehicles that do not have this feature, it could be a loss of pressure and a vacuum leak. Another reason could be is because your car is overheating and the sensor switch responsible for turning on the auxiliary fan is busted when your car comes to a full stop. This is why the engine stalls only when you come to a full stop.

Can a dead battery cause a car to die while driving?

A dead battery will not let you start the car, to begin with, but if it happens in the middle of a drive it can cause your engine to stop working. This problem is connected to wiring problems as well, including a damaged alternator. The alternator charges the battery and is responsible for making sure its power is optimal. Usually, a dead battery is an indication of a faulty alternator, and if not attended to immediately can cause serious problems down the line.


While there are several reasons for engine failure, all of them point to being negligent in maintenance in one way or another. Prevention, especially in the automobile industry, is always better than spending thousands of your money on expensive repairs and parts. The bottom line is to ensure that you follow the prescribed maintenance period for your vehicle. Another aspect is to know when to do it yourself or consult a professional mechanic. These include regular battery health checks, as well as on the fuel lines and pump. As always the safety of yourself and others is the priority in events like this, so when it happens always warn others that share the road with you by immediately engaging your emergency hazard lights as you remedy the problem.