7 Reasons Your Car Might Shut Off While Driving

Have you ever been in a situation where your car shuts off in the middle of nowhere? Especially when you have little hope of getting help, that feeling of helplessness and being stranded.  It is a situation no one wants to experience, ever.

The saying, “prevention is better than cure” holds true in this case; whether you have had a car shut off before or not, I recommend you read this post to the end to prevent yourself from experiencing such moment of disappointment.

As a car owner, you are responsible for taking total care of your car. You are supposed to carry out a daily check-up on the fuel gauge, coolant, engine oil, etc. to make sure that your vehicle is in good condition for the day’s activities.

7 Top reasons your car might shut off while driving

These considerations come handy why your car might shut of while driving. Let’s look at them together.

Malfunctioning of the Ignition Switch

An ignition switch also known as a starter switch is installed in the control system of a car to ignite its basic electrical systems.

You cannot start up a car without the proper functionality of the ignition switch. However, you might have a slight chance of pushing the car to start, that’s if it is a manual car. Sadly, it could be very hard to push a manual car alone, especially if the car shuts off in the middle of nowhere.

Ignition switch dysfunction refers to when the ignition switch malfunctions or is faulty, which in turn leads to the shutting off of a car.

There are a few reasons why an ignition switch might cease working. It may be;

  • Overheating of the ignition coil.
  • Fading of the insulation substance in the ignition switch.
  • Dead spark plug.
  • Vibration.

Whatever the reason may be, we will discover how to counter the situation.

Firstly, how do you know you are having a bad ignition switch? There are several signs you may notice in the car. The starter may remain silent when you try to switch it on, the dashboard light may be going off and on continuously, the key gets stuck and would not turn and the car would not start.

Secondly, how can you prevent your car from having a bad ignition switch? Three basic practices may prevent your ignition switch from going bad.

These are;

  • Remove heavy key holders or other keys from the car key.
  • Make sure you use the right key for the right car.
  • Make sure you remove the car from the ignition lock by turning the steering in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction.
  • When you notice your ignition switch is worn out, make sure you replace it with a new one.

Malfunctioning Of The Engine Control Unit (ECU)

The Engine Control Unit (ECU) also known as the electronic control unit ensures that the combustion engine is working optimally.

Modern cars cannot do without an engine control unit. Hence, issues concerning the ECU should not be taken for granted.

What might be the cause of the ECU behaving abnormally? Well, ECU malfunction can be caused by too much moisture in the unit or a short circuit in the wired parts.

How do you confirm if the Engine Control Unit of your vehicle is faulty? You may notice signs like poor fuel utility, a shift in the engine performance and finally, the car may shut off.

It is necessary to ensure that your car’s ECU does not malfunction.

The following practices are recommended to prevent your car’s ECU from getting faulty;

  • Avoid liquid material near the ECU as it may cause the moisturizing and corrosion of the ECU.
  • Pay more attention to your car to reduce the cost of car repairs.

Dead Spark Plug

A spark plug is a device in the engine of the car which produces a spark that starts the combustion of the fuel. Without the production of the much needed spark, the car will not start. The spark plug is vital for the functioning of the vehicle.

Dead Spark Plug? What is that? A dead spark plug is one that has exhausted its sparking capability, thus, with its electricity become exhausted, and you might find it hard to start up your vehicle.

How do you know if your spark plug is dead? A dead/bad spark plug may increase the usage of gas over a shorter period, reduce the top speed of the vehicle, lead to the vibration of the car, and a rough noise may be produced by the car.

Therefore, to prevent yourself from being stranded in the middle of nowhere because of a dead spark plug, please make sure you always take some extra unused spark plugs with you.

In a case where you might have forgotten to take extra spark plugs, wash out the dirt at the electrodes of the dead spark plug with some fuel and make sure there is a little space between the electrodes. After the washing and spacing, you may have a better chance of getting the plug to work again. Plan for replacement.

Faulty Fuel Gauge/Meter

A fuel meter is a device that reads the amount of fuel that is present in the car’s fuel tank.

When a fuel meter is faulty, it might mislead the driver by showing a wrong reading on the meter. Sometimes, it might just stop working totally.

How can a faulty fuel meter result in the shutting off of the car? When a faulty fuel gauge displays a full or half tank when indeed the tank is almost empty. Further driving will lead to exhausting the reserve fuel. This leads to the car stopping.

What are the reasons for having a faulty fuel meter? When a fuel meter is reading incorrectly, it is usually caused by a bad fuel sending unit. The bad fuel sending unit alerts the car owner when he is running short of fuel.

When you are having a faulty or bad fuel meter, you may try resetting the fuel meter by following the steps below:

  1. Turn the ignition switch to the ‘ON’ position,
  2. Press and hold the Odo button/Trip button until it shows ‘ODO’ mode,
  3. Turn off the ignition switch,
  4. Press and hold-still the Odo button/Trip button. Then, turn the ignition switch to the “On” position again.
  5. Hold the Odo button/Trip button for two seconds, thereafter, release the button and then immediately press it again, release it,
  6. Repeat step 5 (three times). Hold the button until the leveling information is displayed on the odometer, about five seconds
  7. Release the Odo button/Trip button,
  8. Press and hold the Odo button/Trip button until the odometer display reads “1,” this indicates that the reset process has begun.
  9. Release the Odo button/Trip button when the process is complete. This is noticed when the odometer display returns to normal.
  10. Switch off the ignition.

Malfunction of Crankshaft Spot / Position Sensor

A crankshaft sensor is a device built into a combustion engine to take note of the crankshaft’s position.

Therefore, a breakdown of the crankshaft position sensor can lead to an  abnormal behavior of device, which can also leads it to lose track of the crankshaft’s normal position.

Faulty circuitry, debris in the sensor,  and a damaged sensor are the reasons that can result to a faulty crankshaft’s position sensor.

How do you know when you are having a bad crankshaft’s position sensor? This is noted when the check light is blinking continuously, difficulty in sending the needed data to the main computer system, vibration in the car and eventually, the car may shut off.

To prevent your car from this, it is necessary to be conscious of the voltage of the crankshaft’s position sensor. This is highly recommended. Make sure that all wirings are intact; look into changing the crankshaft’s position sensor after 2 years of usage (if you frequently go for long trips).

reasons your car might shut off while driving

Start and Stop Technology

The start and stop technology is a technique developed to automatically determine when your car stops its entire engine, then resume your engine again if you depress the throttle.

If your car happens to shut off, how do you know the cause is the start and stop technology? It’s simple. Press the throttle! If the engine does not resume working, then you know it might not be the start and stop technology. But, if the engine resumes working, then you can be sure it is the start and stop technology system that’s misbehaving.

Faulty Thermostat

A thermostat is a device that regulates and controls the temperature of the entire engine.

A thermostat acts as the main part of the engine’s cooling system. It closes its valve to prevent more cold air from entering into the car’s radiator and vice versa.

A faulty thermostat would give a wrong reading of the engine’s temperature.

What are the indicators of a faulty thermostat? A bad thermostat is mostly stuck open or closed. Sometimes a malfunctioning thermostat causes the car engine to take a longer period to warm up.

How does a damaged thermostat result in the shutting off of the car? A bad thermostat leads to irregular temperatures and if care is not taken, the engine might become too cold or hot. The extreme temperatures, whether cold or hot will result in the shutting off of the car—an innocent action to protect the car engine.

How can you prevent your car’s thermostat from being damaged? Well, the following practices are mostly recommended;

  • Tint your car’s windows,
  • Leave car windows open slightly,
  • Park your car in the shade whenever you see a chance,
  • Always be conscious of the car’s temperature gauge.


Can problems are inevitable. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with whether you are driving a brand new or used car, the problems won’t just let you breath. However, understanding the reasons your car might shut off while driving can help you prevent the occurrence of the problem. It is on this premise that we’ve done our research and encourage you to look at these reasons in a bid to solving the problem of your car having to shut off while you are on the road.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *