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

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!


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.

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

  1. Becca Holton says:

    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.

  2. Melvin Dillard says:

    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.

    • Jascinth says:

      I have a 2010 chevy equinox lately
      Why I stop at the stop light it shuts
      Off I changed the sparkplug and
      Air filter didn’t help

  3. DALTON says:

    I read this and the info is helpful, but there’s honestly no way to pinpoint the problem. There a Grocery list of things probably wrong with my truck, which I’ll have you know was like that when I bought it from this Rip Off lot, but one of the top 3 things that happen the Most is dying and stalling when I’m idle or driving, also the engine makes like these squealing low pitch noise, both of those almost only happen during the winter tho, and lastly it overheates Severely in the summer, I’m replaced everything that has to do with keeping it cool, but still Overheats, Any Wise Words for Advice would be Cool. Thanks!

    • Vuyolwethu says:

      I’m driving Hyundai Accent 2009 model 1.6

      My Car firstly noticed me by changing the adling as if it wanna shut off or some body rave it but no one in the Vehicle, then it shutt and start while I’m driving on gear 4 then on the red traffic while I was seating then it shuts off and I turn on ignition then it start immediately, I’m very worried because I really don’t know what is the Cause of it.

      Anyone to give me an advice please

  4. Brahm says:

    Hi Dave,I have 99 Camry,LE,2.2 auto. It shut down on any place it slow down. During parking ,rpm at one goes high and come down and shut down the car.Three mechanic worked on this car but unable to fix the problem,they changed the air intake hose,clean the throttle body,check the IDE sensor,map sensor,changed the EGR,replace the new fuel filter,transmission oil,fuel pump,tune up full, Fuel filter .Now he is telling me to change the throttle body. I am very broke and don’t know what to do.Please advise.

  5. Brahm says:

    Hi Dave, I owned Toyota Camry 99 2.2 auto. My car shut down while slow down or specially on traffic lights. Three mechanic worked couldn’t fixed. They changed IDE sensor,clean throttle body, put map sensor,fuel filter,changed transmission oil, Flush engine,new EGR and now still has the same problem.Now mechanic said he might have to change the throttle body. I am really broke.Please advise. I would like to fix this car since I am not in position to buy new or lease.Thanks

  6. Dolla says:

    Hi guys i have a 2010 tundra that keeps dying when im only in drive.
    But if im going 30 mph up the truck would shut off and start up right away by it self or you can say it stalled and how i know it shut off and start up right away is becuz i be using the sport shift every time it happened i would be back in 4th gear and my radio would blink. Every time it die i can put it in neutral while the car is moving and start it up right away

  7. Mosa Ndlovu says:

    Hi, My car is nissan xtrail and its an automatic car, it switches off while driving, i have changed the fuel pump but still, please advise what might be the cause of this


  8. Steven Maginnis says:

    My VW Golf 2.5 started shutting off at stoplights. My dealer has replaced the crankshaft position sensor, the purge valve, the knock sensor, the wiring harness,the on-board computer, and the fuel pump – in that order. I thought the fuel pump was the culprit until it came close to stalling after it was replaced. I don’t know what to do anymore.

  9. Gerasimos Avlonitis says:

    Dear Mr. Walker.
    Please help me solve the following problem: I have a Mitsubishi Pajero 3500 cc GDI engine 2003 model. The engine stalls at idle and does not restart until it cools down. Otherwise, the car performs and functions perfectly.
    Many Thanks and
    Best Regards

  10. Alicia says:

    Hi I drive a 2006 Mercury Milan. Recently my car has been randomly shutting off while sitting in traffic or a red light for to long. I took it to 3 different mechanics and they couldn’t tell me what’s wrong with my car. From the research I’ve been doing, I think it might be an electrical problem. Any suggestions I would appreciate it!

    • Taylor says:

      I have a 2013 Kia Optima my check engine light has been in for a while and the code pops up for emissions nobody can find the cause of this check engine light problem. Recently my car has been strutting and turning off at red lights or whenever I am not on the gas pedal. Please help!

  11. Anne says:

    I’m gonna have these issues checked out on my truck. I’m convinced I need to get those fuel filters replaced and have a fuel injection service. I may just take my truck to firestone and let them check out all the possible problems. I’ve got a list of about a dozen things that could be wrong including the items on this page. Like homes. Vehicles are never paid for.

  12. Sa’de says:

    I have a question…Can anybody tell me why my car shutting off while I sit in a line at McDonald’s and I have to get it pushed out the way…it sits for a while and I can crank it back up…?

  13. Joseph says:

    Hi David my car shuts off every time when stopping and during idle.when turning on ignition the rerve count goes up and come down quick and the engine dies.

  14. Taylor says:

    I have a 2013 Kia Optima my check engine light has been in for a while and the code pops up for emissions nobody can find the cause of this check engine light problem. Recently my car has been strutting and turning off at red lights or whenever I am not on the gas pedal. Please help!

  15. Eva mogotsi says:

    Hi iam driving a toyota yaris car, lastnight I forgot the car keys on ignition the whole night then today after jumpstart it switches of whenever I stop or idle on robots .can I still drive it for a week?

  16. Tiawna Lipski says:

    Hi, I have a 2009 dodge SXT charger. I have not only been to a dealership which tried to charge me $1000 just to diagnose it but I have been to three shops in spent well over $4000 trying to fix this problem and I’m just at a dead end at this point The code P0 344 for the camshaft sensor was coming up so I changed that and it stayed on and that’s where my problems began. It randomly will die while idling, but it starts right back up. No problem I have changed both fuel filters, the upper intake manifold, the map sensor, the camshaft sensor, the crankshaft sensor, the timing belt and water pump, as well as a new radiator and battery . I also changed out the throttlebody assembly and none of these things have worked. The light is still on and it will still randomly die while idling. Also, on occasion, it will almost run kind of rough as in when I’m going on the freeway if I let off the gas, it will kind of do a little bit jerky of a shake and then when I push on the gas it kind of lags to start giving a gas if that makes any sense. I literally have hit a dead end and I am out of money at this point to even try to invest $1000 to diagnose what might be wrong with it at another place . Any suggestions I was thinking maybe something electrical? But I don’t know much about electrical, so I’m not sure if that’s even a possibility. Oh, and I also changed out the idle air control valve, as well as the throttlebody.

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