Car Shuts off While Idling: What is the Problem and How to Solve It?

Car Shuts off While Idling

The car shuts off while idling, doesn’t it? Now, this can be quite irritating to deal with whenever you stop at a red signal. It is when your vehicle decides to stall out randomly. So this time, it’s you that’s keeping the line of cars on hold at the traffic signal.

If it happens on a regular basis, then you have to take it as a warning sign. There’s something wrong with the engine. It doesn’t have the ability to control the idle speed anymore. And when something like this happens, you wonder what the cause might be, right?

So it’s time to find what’s causing the car to shut off while idling!


car start

Why does my Car Stall When I Come Co a Stop? 

Here’s the answer: It could be due to one of the three reasons listed below.

Dirty or Malfunctioning Mass Air Flow Sensor

mass air flow sensor

If your car shuts off while idling, then there might be something wrong with the sensors installed in the vehicle. Every car comes with many sensors that are responsible for transmitting information to the engine. But it’s the mass air flow sensor that monitors the quantity and quality of air entering the motor. This particular component determines the amount of fuel your engine needs.

So it’s only logical to assume that a malfunctioning or dirty sensor tends to interfere with performance. This means that the sensor ends up sending incorrect information and readings to the car’s engine.

Such activity results in the vehicle shutting off when idle. So what you need to do is clean or replace the sensor so as to fix the issue.

Malfunctioning or Clogged Air Control System

The air control system plays a huge role when it comes to air regulation in the car. The valve does an excellent job at allowing only a limited amount of air to enter the engine. This contributes to keeping the motor running properly.

So if your car shuts off when stopped or slowing down, the chances are that the valve might be malfunctioning or clogged. When excessive carbon builds up in this particular region, it prevents sufficient air from passing through into the vehicle’s engine.

And sometimes the valve just refuses to function properly without any reason. So whatever the cause; it leads to your car stalling every single time it’s idle. Do you know what this means? It means valve cleaning or replacement.

Failing to do so will not put an end to such a problem. In fact, it might even aggravate the condition, thus damaging the quality and lifespan of the engine.

Worn Out Spark Plugs


Do you know what spark plugs are capable of doing? They send messages in the form of electric waves to the vehicle’s engine from its ignition. So when the wires and plugs are poor or weak in quality, it can lead to disruption in the electric current flow. And this, in turn, forces the car to stall out or sometimes even misfire.

So the best thing that you can do at such times is replace those spark wires and plugs.

Car Shuts off While Idling: How to Fix The Issue?

car idiling

Now that you know what causes a car to shut off while driving or idling, it’s time to find out how to address the problem. Many people think that installing the best 5x7 speakers or any other equipment gives rise to these issues. But that’s not the case. Trust me.

The problem lies under the hood, and that’s where you need to look to find a solution as well.

So what you see below are some minor repairs or adjustments that you can make to eliminate the stalling issue.

Check The Fuel or Electrical System

When the engine is unable to ignite fuel present in the car’s cylinders, it ceases to function. Now this happens due to the lack of gas or electrical charge required for ignition. So you need to check these two components to eliminate the possibility of your car shutting off while idling.

Also, please keep in mind that old, carburetor fuel systems have plenty of fuel passing through the cylinders.Such a condition is called flooding.

Drive Your Car on a Steep Hill

If your car shuts off while idling, you should drive it up and down a steep hill. Do this to check if the vehicle experiences any change in the engine performance. Does it still stall? If yes, then it means only one thing; a clogged or blocked fuel filter.

Now the good news here is that fuel filter replacement is not only cheap but easy too. All you need to do is figure out where the thing is located. In some cars, the filter lies in their gas tank. And this might make it difficult for you to access the filter.

Adjust The Distributor Timing, Injector, or Ignition Control System

Sometimes car dies while idling but restarts when your turn on the ignition, right? To address such a problem, you have to check three important components.

The first part is the distributor if your vehicle has one. Using the right kind of tools, you need to adjust its timing.

The second component is the fuel injection. Check this particular element with the help of a mechanics scope or screwdriver. Working injectors tend to make a snapping/clicking sound. On the other hand, no sound at all indicates a bad or damaged injector.

The last unit to check is the car’s ignition control system. This module is responsible for controlling the voltage timing. It ensures that the current traveling to the spark plugs supplies enough spark so as to ignite the air/fuel mixture properly.

Lower the Engine Idle Speed Setting


Have you ever heard about dieseling? It’s a situation in which the vehicle continues to remain on for a slightly longer time despite turning off the ignition. But such a problem does not occur when using a fuel-injected car. Because in such a case, once the ignition turns off, it shuts down the engine as well as the spark plugs fuel supply.

But if you don’t have a fuel-injected vehicle, then you might have to make adjustments to your engine’s idle speed.

So these are the reasons why your car shuts off while idling. I’ve also discussed the different ways to fix the issue as well.


A vehicle that tends to stall or shut off while idling or driving is dangerous, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter where you are. Even if the traffic is slow-moving, it might lead to a minor accident or cause car damage. And if something like this happens on a highway, you know what it can lead to.

So please make it a point to address the problem as soon as you can. And to be able to do that, you need to figure out the cause, right? So I‘ve listed all the top causes of car shutting off while idling. You can go through the article once again just to be sure.

Is this something that you ever had to deal with? Have you ever tried to fix the problem on your own? And did it work?

Please don’t hesitate to share your stories with us here. You can drop in your honest feedback in the comments section below.

I hope the content was useful. Is there any other important point that you think I failed to discuss? Let me know!

About the author:

Julio Lewis, the founder of BestvsReviews, has been writing articles for in-market consumers, industry members, and all kinds of enthusiasts who love using different types of products. His work consists of latest and reliable information that he presents in the form of useful tips and valuable product reviews. He does this so that others can make informed decisions when it comes to performance and luxury.


About the Author

I am David Walker / An auto mechanic . I have 14 years of experience as a mechanic. Everything I share with you is based on my skills and knowledge accumulated over the years.

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(3) comments

  • Becca Holton March 10, 2018

    My car has been randomly stalling recently. Honestly, I didn’t think it was too big of a deal. However, after reading this, I agree that this is one problem you want to address as soon as you can.

  • Melvin Dillard September 6, 2018

    I own a 2006 infinit q45, recently it started cutting off while I was driving and I noticed that it does it more when I sit in traffic for a long period of time. After sitting in traffic and I drive about a mile it will shut off and sometimes have to sit there for a while before starting back up and when it does it’s jerking and acting like it wants to shut off again. After getting home with it and letting it sit until the next day it will start up and drive like nothing ever happened, but in about a week or two the same thing happens again. Any suggestions please help because I’m afraid of an accident happening with my family with me.

      Dave December 3, 2018

      Sounds like dirty fuelfilters.

      Check both filters the one under the hood and also the build in fuelfilter in the gas tank.

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