Why Does My Car Turn Off When I Stop? (11 Reasons Why)

Photo of author
Bruce Coleman

Bruce Coleman is a diesel mechanic and car tester with 20 years of experience. He's a member of various vintage car clubs, and he loves restoring old motorbikes.

You’re driving down the road and when you come to a stop, your car suddenly turns off. We all hope this doesn’t happen but it does. It could happen to anyone including you.

So why does your car turn off when you stop? There are many reasons this could be happening. Here are 11 reasons to this problem so you are informed and better equipped to solve it.

Why Does My Car Turn Off When I Stop?

1. Alternator Needs Replacing

Your alternator may be bad or is going bad. Your alternator is what keeps your vehicle running once it has started. It keeps recharges the battery as you drive around.

When the alternator goes bad or stops working, your car is now running solely on your battery. Your battery’s charge can only last for so long. This is why your car will eventually turn off.

There are several ways to see if it is your alternator. Here are some things you can look for to determine if the problem is your alternator:

  • The electronics go off before your car shuts off.
  • The battery is dead when you check it.
  • The car will start after charging the battery but will not stay running.
  • Battery warning light comes on your dash before the car stalls.
  • Whining or rumbling noise.
  • Your lights are dimmer than usual.

Understand that when your car turns off after the battery light comes on, it is almost never the cause of a bad battery and most likely, the alternator.

2. Empty Fuel Tank

When your fuel tank is empty, your car no longer has power to keep moving your car forward. Your car’s problem may be that you have no gas which is why your car turned off.

If your gas gauge says you still have gas, the gas gauge could have malfunctioned. These sensors and parts do go bad and can be replaced easily.

3. Low Fuel Pressure

If you just filled your gas tank, it could still be that your car is not getting enough gas to keep your car running in an idled state. Fuel is what keeps your car running.

Read More:  Why Is CarMax So Expensive? (5 Reasons Why)

This could mean that the fuel pumps are not pushing enough fuel into the engine to keep it running. Your car then stalls when it slows down or stops.

Low fuel pressure could also be the result of your fuel injectors is not spraying enough fuel or even no fuel into the spark plugs. Your engine is losing power and cannot function properly.

4. Dirty Fuel Filter

A dirty fuel filter can cause your car to turn off when you stop. There isn’t enough movement to get the right amount of fuel to your engine which causes it to stall.

When it sounds like your car is dying where it sputters before stalling then this could be the cause. Good thing a fuel filter is easy to replace and you can have your car running quickly.

5. EGR Valve Is Clogged

The EGR Valve or also called exhaust gas recirculation, works to control the vehicle emissions and is important to the engine’s longevity. When this part goes bad, your car will turn off.

When it gets clogged, it will cause your car to first shake and sputter and then eventually cause your car to stall. This is because the part can not circulate your car’s emission correctly.

6. Crankshaft Sensor Has Malfunctioned

Crankshaft Sensor Has Malfunctioned

The crankshaft sensor could be one of the reasons your car has turned off. This is because the sensor is important for your engine’s performance.

When this part isn’t working properly, it can cause several other parts to work incorrectly causing your engine to run terribly like misfiring and stalling.

7. A Bad Idle Air Control Actuator

The idle air control actuator controls the RPMs when it is idling. If it is bad, the car may not be idling in the right range and cause your car to stall.

Read More:  Why Are Boat Engines So Unreliable? (9 Reasons Why)

When the air control actuator is bad, you may notice that your car is idling at really low RPMs, eventually causing your car to die. Your car also may just stall not knowing what RPMs to be at.

8. The Wiring

The wiring of your car is like the neurons in your brain. The wiring sends messages throughout th engine to tell each part how to work with each part in harmony.

When the wiring is corroded or loose, messages get lost in translation. The interrupted communication can cause so many things in your engine to stop working and cause it to stall.

Wiring can be an easy fix or a difficult one. You can find a wire that just popped out of place and needs to be connected, or you could be searching for one random wire.

Don’t be too disheartened though. Once you find the wire that is the cause, it can be fixed quickly and at low costs.

9. The Ignition Switch

Whenever your car turns off when you stop, you may think that the ignition switch is the last reason for this issue. You may not even think of as a possible cause, but it can be.

In your ignition switch there are connections and metal plates that can become rusted or disconnected. This occurring will cause your car to turn off.

If your car turns off as well as the lights on your dashboard, then the problem is the ignition switch. Turn the key to see if the engine will turn over. If it doesn’t, then this is the cause.

This cause can be mistaken for the alternator. Understand that your car will click and the lights should come briefly if your alternator has gone bad because the battery still has a charge.

10. Your Transmission Went Out

One of the most expensive reasons for your car turning off when you stop is your transmission went out. Your engine will smoke and your vehicle may even fill like it just cracked.

Read More:  Why Are Volkswagens So Unreliable? (11 Reasons Why)

When you pull over and see a lot of white smoke, then there is a good chance that your transmission is done for. You can also check the thermostat to see that the engine is hot.

When your transmission goes out, you may need to consider getting a new vehicle. That is how expensive replacing your transmission is.

11. The Engine Control Unit

Think of the engine control unit or ECU, as part of your car’s brain. It controls the engine and many other parts within your car. When it goes bad, then it effects the entire engine.

The ECU is a computer within your engine and can go bad over time for various reasons. To learn if your ECU is faulty, you can hook up a scanner to find the diagnosis.

Scanners can also find other problems to your vehicle. You can get your car scanned for free at many auto parts store. If you go to a mechanic, they may charge you a small fee.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why your RPM goes up and down while parked, why people lease cars, and why British cars are so unreliable.


These are the many reasons for your car stalling when you stop. Even if you are not familiar with the mechanics of your car, knowing these cause can help you in the long run.

This knowledge will only help prevent you from getting scammed out of thousands of dollars. Even if you don’t know the specific details, it can help you better understand a mechanic.


  • Bruce Coleman

    Bruce Coleman is a diesel mechanic and car tester with 20 years of experience. He's a member of various vintage car clubs, and he loves restoring old motorbikes.

Leave a Comment