16 Reasons Why Your Car Starts Then Dies & Some Solutions

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car starts then dies

One of the most infuriating problems you might have is whenever your automobile starts then dies. It might show you every indication that it’s gonna work, yet it’ll eventually choke out on you.

While it could be tough to understand how your engine dying problem could happen, it’s critical to understand that modern automobiles are incredibly intricate bits of engineering works.

Any internal combustion engine requires three components: air, fuel, and sparks to operate appropriately. Whenever any of these components are lacking or in improper ratios, your engine would immediately shut down.

This combustion process is very complex, and a meticulous mix among all of those factors must always be achieved and maintained. No crank or no start circumstances are often relatively simple to resolve.

Yet, if your car starts then dies, the troubleshooting procedure could be slightly more challenging. In this article, we’ll be discussing the most often encountered reasons for engine stalls right after starting.

Additionally, we’ll discuss what you should do to restore regularity to your vehicle quickly. Read on to learn more!

Reasons Why Your Car Starts Then Dies

There are numerous causes and explanations why your car starts then dies. If you’ve tried to start your car several instances without effect, you must resist doing it, again and again, to prevent damaging your engine starter or flooding your engine.

Identifying the core source of this problem is critical if you want to put your car running on the road again as soon as possible. The following is a list of frequent issues that you should investigate:

Empty Fuel Tank

Apart from your engine, petrol is another crucial element of your vehicle. Your engine must have sufficient fuel to start and maintain operation. Otherwise, you would start your automobile, and it would react.

However, it would shut off practically quickly. Even if the engine is in fine condition, you cannot drive your automobile if your fuel tank is empty.

Therefore, if driving your automobile to a gas station to refill your gas tank frequently slips your memory, plan a routine for it or set a reminder to notify you to refuel or whenever your gas tank begins to dip down the empty level.

Therefore, if you attempt to start your automobile and it doesn’t react or start but quickly shuts off, your attention is drawn to your fuel gauge. When it’s empty, you’ll know what to do.

Battery Failure

A typical classic cause for your automobile to start for a brief while before dying is battery failure. To start your automobile it requires power from your battery. But, if your car starts then dies, the problem might be a shortage of charge or a faulty battery.

This could occur if your car battery produces sufficient energy to start your vehicle, but your alternator provides insufficient energy to maintain your car going. A battery replacement might resolve the issue.

Get help or let an auto-electrician examine your battery’s charge level; once it’s low, changing your batter would remedy the issue. Maintain an automobile service schedule to prevent being stranded while traveling.

Bad Mass Air Flow Sensor

Over modern cars, a mass airflow sensor is used to determine the quantity of air reaching your engine. A  MAF sensor is very delicate. Debris and grime pushed through your car’s air filter could quickly clog this sensor.

A filthy MAF sensor would frequently interpret inaccurate air readings, causing the overall air/fuel mixture to be erroneous. Cleansing your sensor using a MAF sensor cleaner might resolve the problem.

When not, check to determine if your MAF sensor has failed and replace it if required. If you’re using any aftermarket air intake, be careful not to over-oil your air filter. Excessive oil might pass through your filter and clog your MAF sensor.

Ignition System Issues

The ignition system of your automobile should be in good operating condition if your engine has to operate at any degree of performance.

In some instances, ignition system problems can impede your car from igniting or starting or leading it to stop at any moment, particularly dying immediately after start-up. It’s because its ignition system is accountable for supplying the needed spark necessary for engine combustion.

An engine stalling fault associated with your ignition system might be triggered by problems with your battery or connections, ignition switch, ignition coil, spark plugs, or spark plug wires.

Also, the existence of many damaged coil packs or spark plugs inside your ignition system might result in a highly rough idle or stalling.

Failing Idle Air Control Valve

Your idle air control valve adjusts a car’s air/fuel ratio during idle. Additionally, it regulates your engine idle whenever your engine’s load changes, such as while your air conditioner, stereo, headlights, or other electrical accessories are turned on.

Once your IAC valve fails, your car might go through a rough idle or could completely stall. It’s particularly true in the instance of a cold start. You might attempt to remedy this issue by cleaning your idle air control valve.

Occasionally, an electrical problem within your idle air control valve stops your valve from functioning correctly.

Numerous electrical faults of this sort are testable with a voltmeter. Assuming the main reason is an electrical fault inside your valve, your IAC valve will almost certainly need to be replaced.

Fuel Pump Leak

If fuel pumps develop a leak, it’ll cause difficulties with your internal combustion system. During ignition, your car engine needs the proper air/fuel ratio.

When a fuel pump leak or fuel leak occurs anywhere, the proper quantity of fuel might not reach your combustion chamber. This can start your car but can’t maintain its operating.

Failing Spark Plugs

A combustion engine operates by igniting your engine’s air/fuel mixture. Your spark plugs produce the ignition’s spark. Your pistons go up and down, which causes your wheel axles and crankshaft to spin.

Whenever your spark plugs are defective, engine ignition would malfunction, and your vehicle would come to a complete stop as your engine has a hard time to keep operating on fewer cylinders.

This might lead your automobile to start for a moment but then misfire excessively with such a weak spark, resulting in your engine dying abruptly.

Fuel System Issues

The condition of your fuel system is critical to your car’s efficiency. Without an adequately working fuel system, various problems may occur, particularly those that result in engine stalling.

This is because adequate fuel supply is a necessary component of combustion. Poor fuel supply always results in decreased efficiency. There are a variety of distinct fuel system difficulties that could result in engine stalling.

Among the most prevalent issues are a bad fuel pump, a broken fuel pump relay, clogged fuel rail, malfunctioning fuel injectors, low fuel pressure, fuel injection sensor issue, and a failing fuel pressure regulator.

Also, older automobiles are vulnerable to equivalent troubles if the carburetor malfunctions. In any case, such concerns must be checked using a good fuel pressure gauge.

Damaged or Clogged Fuel Filter

When your automobile comes to a stop following switching on your ignition, your issue might be a shortage of fuel. Your fuel filter is a common component that contributes to low fuel pressure.

Your fuel filter is a sort of engine filter that should be replaced on a schedule determined by your car manufacturer. It could be clogged if you have not changed it in a lengthy period.

Fuel filters are frequently straightforward to replace and relatively inexpensive. If your fuel pressure is low, it could be worthwhile to replace your fuel filter.

Carburetor Failure

Among older automobiles that aren’t equipped with electronic fuel injection, their carburetor is vital for its internal combustion cycle.

It’s essential to alter the air/fuel mixture appropriately to ensure an effective and well-operating internal combustion chamber.

When your car suffers from a poor carburetor that’s failing for any circumstance, your air/fuel mixture will probably be messed up.

Vacuum Leak

A vacuum leak is a leakage in your engine’s air intake system next to your mass airflow sensor, permitting unmetered air to enter your engine. This alters your car’s projected air/fuel mixture, causing your car to run lean.

Whenever your car suffers from a significant vacuum leak, its air/fuel mixture would become very lean or too much air penetrating the engine, which can result in your car stalling. Usually, a vehicle can continue to function with modest vacuum leaks.

However, if the leakage is significant, your fuel injector might be unable to catch up with the additional unmetered air entering the system necessary for a complete combustion chamber ignition.

You might be likely to lift your hood and discover anything clearly out of order, including a ripped or detached vacuum line. If there are no apparent leaks, you can conduct a smoke test to determine the specific location of such leaks.

A smoke test is when a mechanic injects smoke through your intake system. Such smoke would leak out of any cracks in your intake system and immediately alert you when unwanted air is entering your intake system.

Rather than a mass airflow sensor, a car that employs a speed density system for engine control would utilize the manifold absolute pressure sensor. If your car has a vacuum leak, it’ll increase your engine idle as if your throttle body plate is open.

Faulty Crankshaft/Camshaft Position Sensor

Camshaft and crankshaft position sensors communicate to your ECU the precise position of the camshaft and crankshafts in all circumstances. This enables your ECU to synchronize the engine ignition timing of your spark plugs with your rotating assembly’s position.

Whenever your ECU can’t gain a reliable input, your engine might refuse to start or could die shortly after restarting.

When there’s no input from your camshaft or crankshaft position sensors, your ECU will illuminate your dashboard’s check engine light. If possible, have this fault code scanned since it could reveal the particular circuit triggering the problem.

Assess the connections on the camshaft or crankshaft position sensors for damage or exposed material on its cables, specifically on the area beneath your connector on your engine harness end.

Severe output noise or interruption in certain automobiles might lead your crankshaft position sensor to malfunction.

While spark plug connections contribute to electromagnetic interference, this is often just troubles with specific aftermarket configurations that don’t account for this interruption.

Engine Control Module Issues

The engine control module (ECM), engine control unit (ECU), or powertrain control module (PCM) is the computer system that controls the car’s primary engine characteristics and software.

The ECU could fail and induce a car to stall despite being uncommon. Typically, an ECU problem is followed by several electrical system troubles, like incomplete or inaccurate sensor inputs.

One such issue is a failure to manage your fuel injection system properly. This might create issues with maintaining your engine running after you start it.

Slipped Timing Belt/Chain

A missing tooth or gear on your timing chain or belt can skew your camshaft timing, allowing your exhaust or intake valves to activate at the incorrect point. Wrong camshaft timing can result in engine stalling, misfires, or rough idle.

A missing tooth might be produced by an excessively loose timing belt, which might occur due to a faulty tensioner or improper tensioning.

A slipping camshaft gear might present equal indications but is more challenging to identify. This is why even if your timing is inaccurate, slipping gear will enable your timing markings to align.

Assuming you understand the right angle of your camshaft lobes, the angle concerning the camshaft gear timing markings will indicate that something is wrong.

Fixing any of these faults often involves the same amount of work as replacing your timing belt; however, certain camshafts are reachable for competent mechanics with no timing belt breakdown.

When your car is equipped with an interference engine, your valves or piston might come into touch with one another if their timing isn’t set correctly. On such engines, it’s critical to address the problem immediately to prevent severe damage to your engine.

Anti-Theft System Problems

One typical cause for your automobile to start and die immediately is a car alarm system malfunction. If your anti-theft system or alarm system is triggered, your automobile disables its fuel pump, generating fuel pressure in your engine’s fuel rail.

It’ll let you start your car for a bit of length of time yet not for an extended period. When you switch on your ignition, the key light or icon on your dashboard must go off after a few seconds.

If not, simply lock then unlock your vehicle’s doors to restart. There might be an issue with your vehicle key or the alarm unit if it remains on.

Faulty EGR Valve

Nowadays, most automobiles are engineered to adhere to the government’s emission regulations. This is done by employing specialized devices that significantly reduce hazardous exhaust emissions.

 Your EGR valve is such a device or component; it recirculates the combustion byproducts thru your intake manifold. Such emissions are reintroduced into your cylinders for the combustion process.

Sadly, EGR valves are susceptible to malfunction, distorting the recirculation of exhaust gases. Instead of permitting fumes to recirculate merely when your engine is heated, a malfunctioning EGR valve frequently allows exhaust gases to circulate again while your engine is still cold.

Additionally, your EGR valve might get jammed owing to carbon clogging, resulting in a similar problem. If this occurs, your engine will stall regularly.

Car Starts Then Dies: Solutions

You can explore various options if your vehicle exhibits any of the above symptoms. We’ll explain multiple possible solutions to the difficulties mentioned above. Therefore, if you’ve determined that your automotive difficulty is the consequence of one of the mentioned issues, let’s go and get started.

Empty Fuel Tank

This would be the most straightforward issue to resolve. If an effort to start your automobile is unsuccessful, inspect your fuel tank. You might unintentionally drain the fuel within your car.

Therefore, when your fuel gauge shows empty, you can’t drive your vehicle to a gasoline station.

Thus, the only way forward is to go to the nearest petrol station with a hand carry fuel tank. Then carefully refill your fuel tank or get someone’s assistance with greater expertise.

Repair or Replace your Fuel Pump

If the issue is a leaky fuel pump, don’t attempt to start your automobile again and again. It’s unsafe for your car.

It could be helpful if you managed to repair the leak in your fuel pump before restarting your automobile. When you’re having problems with rubberized fuel lines, you’ll quickly resolve the situation.

The most straightforward treatment is to get your rubber fuel lines replaced. To detach the rubber lines, you’ll have to loosen its clamps. Then, change out the rubber fuel lines with the proper size for your automobile.

However, if you have to deal with steel or metal fuel lines, refrain from attempting to replace them. You’ll have to entrust a skilled mechanic with the task. Why? Steel fuel line replacement requires a high degree of skill that you might lack.

One incorrect maneuver might destroy your fuel lines or other vehicle components. As a result, you’re best off leaving steel fuel lines to your technician.

Fix YOUr Fuel Injector Sensor

To be honest, if your fuel injector sensor is to blame for your automobile starting and dying instantly, you might have no chance of attempting to repair it. Why?  Fuel injector sensor problems are complicated.

You are unable to deal with it on your own. If you’ve developed an interest in automotive repair as a pastime or hobby, you may try to repair it. But, you must not continue if you merely depend on YouTube tutorials to repair your Fuel Injector Sensor issue.

We recommend that you grab a phone and contact your trusted mechanic. The rationale for this is that there are three distinct methods for repairing your fuel injector sensor. You have three options: replace your sensor, completely clean your injector, or repair it.

If repairing automobiles is much more of a passion than a career for you, you may have difficulty selecting the ideal option. However, a mechanic with numerous years of expertise repairing automobiles would swiftly determine the appropriate action plan to correct your fuel injector sensor issue. 

Repair your Ignition System Troubles

Keep an eye on this; assuming your ignition system is the root cause of the difficulty, you’ll need to determine which component of your ignition system is causing the issue. There are two potential perpetrators.

To begin, your Spark Plugs might be to blame. Second, your spark plug cables can be the source of the problem. If your spark plugs seem to be burnt, undersized, or old, they must be replaced or properly cleaned.

We recommend you change them. However, deep cleaning of your spark plugs could resolve the issue if you’re on a shoestring. However, if the problem remains after thoroughly cleaning your spark plugs, you are required to replace them promptly.

On the other hand, inspect the spark plug cables if your spark plugs are still in good condition. Probably replace your spark plug connections if they are worn or damaged. If they are repairable, attempt to repair them.

Resolve The Issue With Water, Ice, or Accumulations

You’ll have to provide a fuel additive solution that can remove water from your fuel tank; many of these products are available at any automotive store. Relocate your automobile to a place with enough ventilation.

Your vehicle’s interior has to warm up since this will help melt any ice (if that’s the cause). Allow your vehicle to rest for about four hours to warm up. 

After four hours:

  1. Add an adequate amount of fuel line anti-freeze additive to your tank and allow a couple of minutes for the fuel solution/treatment to settle.
  2. Start your automobile gently.
  3. Turn your key gently for three secs at a time.

Repeat this operation about five times, then exit your vehicle to let the solution work. After a few moments, attempt to restart your vehicle. If it doesn’t start, repeat the procedure till your automobile starts quickly.


Whenever your car starts, then dies immediately when you have to rush to get somewhere, don’t be terrified. Contact your mechanic if you can’t foresee yourself diagnosing and repairing the automobile independently.

Additionally, there are a variety of possible causes for your car to stall. You’re probably overwhelmed by the diagnostic and repair procedure if you’re a newbie. Therefore, don’t be afraid to seek assistance from a mechanic if you can’t identify and repair the problem independently.

However, if you think you are up to the job and can fix the issue, don’t be afraid to try a diagnostic and start repairing your automobile. Best of luck!


Why is my car stalling when I start it?

Several typical causes of vehicle stalling include the following: A fuel tank that’s depleted. An insufficiently rich fuel ratio (this is frequently the reason for erratic stalling and cold stalling.) A faulty fuel pump, bad alternator, or EGR valve failure.

What to do when your car starts then dies?

You could clean your idle air control valve and determine whether it prevents the engine from dying. If this doesn’t resolve the problem, there’s a possibility that an electrical fault inside its valve is hindering it from operating correctly. In these instances, it’s better to leave it to a professional. They’ll install new wire or repair existing wiring.

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