Why Does My Car Keep Dying When I Stop?

by Carmen Russell

There are a few reasons why a car "dies" when it comes to a stop--maybe the driver took her foot off the gas pedal. But sometimes the obvious reason is not the actual culprit.

Idle Adjustment

One common reason for a car to stall out when idling is that the idle air control valve (IAC) is not adjusted properly. The IAC regulates the RPM speed at idle by controlling the amount of air flow and it may need to be adjusted or it may not be working probably as a result of carbon buildup.

Blocked Fuel Filter

After awhile, a car's fuel filter becomes blocked up from a buildup of gunk from the gas tank. This can be tested by taking off the fuel filter and blowing through it. The air should flow through, but, if not, the fuel filter likely needs to be replaced.

Dirty Fuel Injenctor

On cars with fuel injection, the fuel injector also gets dirty over time. This will affect the car's performance as well as it's ability to idle properly. This can often be fixed very easily by using fuel injector cleaner that is added to the gas.

Catalytic Converter

Catalytic converters are a part of the exhaust system and designed to remove toxic pollutants from the car's emissions. The catalytic converter may be blocked up, which would cause the car's emissions to back up and the car to stall.

Faulty Sensors

If the "Check Engine" light is illuminated, it's possible that a sensor is not working properly. The Mass Air Flow sensor, for example, measures the amount of air entering the engine and adjusts idle speed as a result.

About the Author

Carmen Russell is a career journalist who began writing in 1995. His articles have appeared in the "Chicago Tribune," "Orlando Sentinel," "Washington Times" and "asia! Magazine." His video work has been featured on "20/20," PBS and MSNBC.com. Russell has a Master of Studies in law from Georgetown University and a Master of Science in journalism from Columbia University.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera yellow car, a honda japanese sport car model image by alma_sacra from Fotolia.com