Why my car shuts off while driving?


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Your car shuts off while driving or the car shuts off when stopped or slowing down? This is a well-known problem in modern cars.
If the car or the engine shuts off while driving, it can quickly become dangerous. There is a high danger because as soon as the engine is off, the power steering fails and there is a risk that the steering wheel may lock. In the worst case, the vehicle can no longer be steered.

If the car shuts off when stopped or slowing down, this is less dangerous but still problematic. However, the technical reasons for this may be the same.


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If the vehicle randomly shuts off while driving or stationary, there is usually an issue with the engine. Typical patterns here are issues with the ignition system, mixture preparation or fuel. A known error here is that the vehicle was refueled with the wrong type of fuel. This means, either a gasoline engine was fueled with diesel or vice versa. If there is a suspicion of incorrect refueling, the first thing we recommend is to check the last fuel receipt to see which fuel was purchased.

car shuts off when stopped or slowing down

If one of the above-mentioned issues is present, the engine control unit usually also detects this and stores an OBD2 code in the error memory. When an issue is detected, the check engine light also comes on in the vehicle.

What symptoms indicate that the car may shut off when stopped or slowing down?

There are several symptoms that indicate that there is an issue with the ignition system, mixture preparation or fuel in the vehicle. As a rule, you will see other symptoms first before the car shuts off. If these are ignored, the engine may stop running while driving or even while idling.

Black smoke from exhaust when accelerating:

black smoke from exhaust

The reason for black smoke coming from the exhaust is related to the diesel particulate filter. The filter picks up soot particles from the exhaust gases every time the vehicle is driven, causing the diesel particulate filter to fill up over time. Normally, the diesel particulate filter cleans itself at regular intervals. Depending on the driving profile, however, it can also happen that the diesel particulate filter may be clogged at 100,000 miles already. If the diesel particulate filter is heavily loaded, it clogs, causing the exhaust back pressure to become too high. The consequence of this is the engine may shut off while driving. In most cases, only the replacement of the diesel particulate filter will help to fix the issue.

Car jerks when accelerating:

If the car jerks when accelerating, this usually is an indicator of issues with the fuel supply. Here, the fuel pump could be defective or an injection valve/injector.
If the fuel pump is no longer working properly, it may be the case that not enough fuel is reaching the engine or the injection valves/injectors.
If there is not enough fuel in the engine for combustion, the car may shut off while driving.

Whistling noise from car:

If there is a loud hissing or whistling noise from car when accelerating or driving the vehicle, this usually indicates a leak in the intake or a leak in the turbocharger‘s charge air system.
If the leak is too large, too much fuel is injected by the engine control unit, which means that the air-fuel mixture can no longer be ignited by the spark plug. The result is, the car shuts off while driving.

Other causes of this error:

When the engine of the car goes out, it can be related to many different reasons. The most common causes are a clogged diesel particulate filter or problems with fuel preparation. In addition, it may also have other causes.

Defect of the alternator:

In the event of a defect in the alternator (colloquially known as the generator), the voltage required for the vehicle’s electrical system or for the engine control unit can no longer be maintained. If the voltage in the vehicle collapses completely, the engine control unit can no longer work. As a result, components such as the ignition coil are no longer controlled, which causes the engine to stop. This problem can occur while driving or even while idling.

Issues with the sensor system of the motor:

Modern vehicles are very dependent on the sensor technology installed on the engine. If one of the sensors is defective or provides wrong values, a may result in a bad fuel mixture. This can cause the car shuts off while idling.

Keep in mind, that every car has different software and modules built-in. Therefore specific features will vary with every model.

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