(Updated on July 3, 2020)
There is nothing worse than having your car engine stop while you’re driving. If this happens, you’ll want to pull off the road as quickly as possible before the wheels stop completely.
Do not confuse this situation with one where you have a lack of power in your vehicle. This is caused by your alternator or battery failing to deliver the proper amount of power needed.
An engine that stops all of a sudden will cause you to lose control of your vehicle to some degree, especially if you’re driving fast. You also won’t hear it running anymore. This can happen with old and new cars as well.
Top 6 Causes When a Car Turns Off While Driving
There are all sorts of reasons as to why a car engine would stop suddenly while you’re driving. To figure out what your specific cause was, below are six of the most probable causes which you can examine and see if they match your vehicle’s current situation.
1) Engine Overheating
The most common reason for an engine to stop is that it is overheated. As the internal combustion chamber burns air and fuel to create heat energy, it then becomes mechanical energy which causes the vehicle’s parts and components to operate.
It also allows the alternator to convert this energy into electrical energy for the electrical components of the vehicle. However, if there is not enough coolant in the engine to keep the temperatures within a normal range, then the pistons can actually begin to melt. This will result in the engine shutting down suddenly.
2) Low Engine Oil
Since oil is what keeps all moving metal components in an engine lubricated to keep them running with the least amount of resistance, a lack of oil can be catastrophic.
If you have an oil leak somewhere which causes your oil level to drop below the minimum, there may be too much friction between metal components that can actually cause your engine to seize up and simply shut off. In addition, you will likely have expensive engine damage if you let this happen.
This is why regularly checking your oil level is so important.
3) Low Transmission Fluid
Like engine oil, a certain amount of transmission fluid is needed for your vehicle to operate. If you don’t have the right amount of transmission fluid in your transmission, then it can cause your engine to stop at any time while you’re driving since your transmission can overheat and result in damage to the gears inside.
Like engine oil, you want to regularly check to make sure you have the proper amount of transmission fluid in your vehicle.
4) Failed Motor Mount
This is a more uncommon cause of engine failure, but it can happen if motor mounts have gone bad or the engine has been worked on and not secured properly back in place.
If the engine mounts were broken or were not used properly to secure the engine, the engine would vibrate profusely and likely shut off due to component damage from the vibration.
5) Electrical Problems
If the computer system or ignition system of your vehicle has electrical problems, it will fail to send the proper electrical signal to the engine. This will cause the engine to ultimately stop. You may see the check engine warning light flash on your dashboard right before this happens.
If you do, you should immediately get your vehicle to the auto shop before the vehicle stops while you’re driving. You never want to take risks when it comes to an engine warning light.
6) Bad Catalytic Converter
The exhaust system of the vehicle depends on the catalytic converter to clear out the exhaust. But if the fuel has too many impurities in it or the car is running too rich, the converter won’t be able to handle it and it will eventually malfunction.
Then, the catalytic converter can get plugged up or the tailpipe will get backed up with too much exhaust, which overworks the engine and eventually causes it to malfunction as well.