Top 10 Causes Of Car Shuts Off While Driving But Starts Back Up

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My car shuts off while driving but starts back up

If you constantly encounter my car shuts off while driving but starts back up, then let us tell you it is a severe issue that you should not neglect. Automobiles are a crucial part of our life. We spend half of our lives in them.

It is the reason why every buyer, before making a purchase, ensures the vehicle can be trusted with the safety of them and their family. But your inspection to ensure your ride is safe enough for your family does not end after you have bought it.

Besides checking if the ride offers good gas mileage, smooth operations, and is fun to drive, you must also be sure it is safe. If you face issues like the car shuts off while driving, the car shakes on acceleration, and more, your ride is no longer safe.

Sometimes, even with proper care, we miss out on things that lead to severe issues in our rides. But do not worry. You can get past such an issue if you know what its prime causes are and the right way to fix them.

Today, we bring you this beginner-friendly guide that will teach you all what would cause a car to shut off while driving and how you can handle this issue effortlessly.

Let us begin and start learning.

Top 10 Causes & Fixes – Car Shuts Off While Driving But Starts Back Up

There is no single reason as to why a car randomly shuts off while driving but starts back up. Automobiles are complex machinery with hundreds of parts working together harmoniously to give you the desired performance and results.

When even the smallest of these parts starts to act up, it can create issues with your ride, like the car turns off while driving but turns back on, using more oil, burning more fuel, and others. Every problem with your car is caused due to a reason. But the best part is your ride will always give you signs.

For example, if the check engine light of your car is on, it means there is some issue with your car engine that you should address immediately. Similarly, when a car randomly shuts off while idling or the car shuts off while driving but starts back up, there will be signs signaling the reasons for the issue.

Here, we have listed the top 10 reasons my car shuts off while driving but starts back up. Explore each one carefully to determine what is getting your ride to act up.

1. Empty Fuel Tank

Empty Fuel Tank

An empty fuel tank is one of the most common reasons why your car shuts off while driving no check engine light. You will be surprised to know how common it is for a car to abruptly shut down due to an empty fuel tank.

There are many car owners out there who are forgetful about keeping a regular check on their fuel levels. Sure, the fuel gauge will let them know. But if your car shuts off while driving and you encounter an empty fuel tank while your fuel gauge shows ample fuel quantity, there is a high chance your fuel gauge is faulty.

If the fuel gauge of your ride is faulty, it will be unable to convey you the right fuel quantity. The gauge gets stuck in one position regardless of the fuel level, mainly between the “F” and “E” marks. This leads you to use the entire fuel without thinking about the refill.

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So, the next time you are on the road, and your car shuts off while driving but starts back up, check the engine fuel tank. If the tank is empty, while the fuel gauge shows a substantial fuel level, you need to replace the gauge.

Despite the fuel gauge indications, it will be best to keep checking the fuel level before leaving the house.

2. Faulty Ignition Switch

Faulty Ignition Switch

When you use your key or push-start button to start your car, the ignition switch, installed behind the ignition lock, gets turned on. It is what makes your ride come alive from its sleeping state. 

This ignition switch behind your steering wheel and the dash comprises several tiny metal plates prone to build rust over time. If there is rust build-up, one of these metal plates may lose connection from the circuit, leading to the entire ignition getting switched off.

In another scenario, the ignition relay can go bad, which stops the mechanism controlling the amount of electricity going through these metal plates. You can easily check if this is the issue for my car shuts off while driving but starts back up.

So, when your car shuts down, check if the lights on your dashboard are still on. If not, then you are dealing with a faulty ignition issue.

3. Bad Fuel Pump

Bad Fuel Pump

Another reason your car randomly shuts off while driving is a bad or clogged fuel pump. To work smoothly and generate power, your ride’s engine needs a precise fuel supply at a distinct time. And the part of your engine that does this entire work is the fuel pump. This little part supplies your engine with the correct amount of fuel for its effortless operation.

However, if the engine does not get the proper amount of fuel at the correct intervals, the engine motor will shut off. It is almost similar to your car running out of fuel. The bad news here is that there is no instant remedy for a faulty fuel pump. You will have to fix or replace it immediately to avoid your car shutting off in the future.

But remember, replacing a fuel pump is not like repairing or replacing a car windshield, so you should get a professional’s help.

4. Clogged Fuel Filter

Clogged Fuel Filter

Another reason that answers your query, why does my car keep shutting off while driving, is the clogged fuel filter in your engine. If you are unaware, the fuel filter is a part of your car engine whose job is to clean the fuel that goes into it.

Over time, it is obvious that this fuel filter gets clogged by contaminations in the gasoline on which your ride runs. Due to the clogged fuel filter, the fuel pump cannot pump out enough fuel through it.

And because of insufficient gasoline supply, your car engine is messed up to produce the required power and thus keeps getting shut down. With your inspection, if you find out the fuel filter is the culprit, simply clean it. 

If your fuel filter is made of paper or nylon, just replace it as it is cheap. And if it is made of metal, simply remove, clean, and reuse it.

5. Faulty Crankshaft Position Sensor

Faulty Crankshaft Position Sensor

A messed up crankshaft position sensor is another cause hidden behind when your car shuts off when stopped or slowing down. The crankshaft position sensor monitors the moving parts of your engine, like valves, pistons, and crankshaft.

It smartly tracks the velocity and location of the crankshaft to help facilitate the accurate timing for fuel injection & ignition, thus maintaining your car engine’s optimal efficiency.

But suppose the crankshaft position sensor cannot provide the correct information about piston positioning to the Engle Control Unit. In that case, it leads to a cylinder misfire. You can get an idea of this issue as it gets the check engine light activated.

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However, if you want to be 100% sure that the answer to your query, my car shuts off while driving but starts back up is a faulty crankshaft positioner; check for other symptoms like compromised fuel efficiency, engine misfires, and rough engine running.

6. Compromised Engine Control Unit (ECU)

Compromised Engine Control Unit (ECU)

Another root cause for your “my car shuts off while driving battery light comes on” worry can be a compromised engine control unit. The engine control unit in your car is a computer that collects all the information from several crucial parts of an internal combustion engine. 

It aims to ensure the whole engine system is working smoothly & adequately in the optimal & proper manner to maximize your ride’s efficiency. However, if there is an issue with ECU, you will see a sudden drop in fuel economy, power, and spark.

Generally, the check engine light will turn on, but that illuminates up for several other reasons. Thus, to ensure a faulty ECU is a culprit, check if your car, other than sudden shut-off, is also stalling and jerking while driving.

You can try troubleshooting yourself with the help of an OBD scanner. Still, we suggest you get professional help to eliminate such serious issues.

7. Busted Alternator

Busted Alternator

If you wonder why my car died while driving but starts back up, a busted alternator can be the main culprit. The alternator in a vehicle works to produce a constant stream of electricity from the mechanical energy produced by the vehicle.

It then uses that electricity to run several electrical parts of your car like dash lights, air conditioning unit, dome lights, stereo, and even charge the battery. However, suppose the alternator is not doing its functions properly. In that case, your car will not get the electrical power it requires, leading to issues like the car shuts off while driving but starts back up.

A flashing dash is the apparent sign of a busted alternator. However, you will not get it right away as if the alternator dies and your car battery works well, it steps in to provide the power.

This step-in from your car battery does not let you know there is any issue. But it does not last long as a car battery is not designed to power an entire automobile. And thus, you end up with a dead car battery and a faulty alternator.

You can avoid this issue if you keep checking your car battery and alternator with the help of a voltmeter or multimeter once every 5 to 6 months.

8. Ruined Spark Plugs

Ruined Spark Plugs

For your car engine to work smoothly, several small & big parts are responsible. One such crucial part is the spark plug. This tiny component ignites the air and fuel mixture in your engine’s combustion chamber. Each cylinder of the engine has its spark plug.

So, if you own a 3-cylinder car, there will be three spark plugs, a V8 engine car will have eight spark plugs, and so forth. Your car can still start and run well with one faulty spark plug. However, if more than one spark plug is malfunctioning, you may be able to start your car, but it will not drive long.

Ruined spark plugs will cause your car to shut off while driving and the engine to stall. But before coming to this end result, there are several signs that you can keep an eye out for, like engine misfires, lack of acceleration, reduced engine performance, and engine knocking.

If your issue of my car shuts off while driving but starts back up comes with these other signs, faulty spark plugs are at play.

9. Damaged Timing Belt

Damaged Timing Belt

The timing belt is a crucial component of an automobile’s engine. Its task is to synchronize all the engine’s moving parts for smooth operation. But suppose the timing belt is broken or slipping, a common occurrence due to excessive vehicle load. 

In that case, it leads to shutting down the operations of the crankshaft and camshaft and abruptly stopping your car on the road. This issue is something that not everyone can find out. If you cannot find an obvious issue, timing belt failure can be a prominent answer. Have a mechanic look at your ride and inspect the timing belt closely.

10. Cracked or Ruined Torque Converter

Cracked or Ruined Torque Converter

Another possible answer to your “my car shut off while driving and won’t start” issue is a cracked or broken torque converter. However, this issue is limited to only the vehicles with automatic transmissions because manual cars have a clutch to do the power transmission.

A torque converter is a fluid coupler. It depends primarily on transmission fluid to work properly. It means the quality of the transmission fluid you use affects the torque converter. So, if you are using sub-par fluid, thinking it gets the job done, you are creating havoc on the torque converter and other transmission components of your vehicle.

Other than contaminated transmission fluid, worn valve bodies & pumps, degrading sealing rings, locked-up piston lining, and dislodged turbine fins can also break the torque converter.

Although this is a rare scenario, it is not impossible. So, if you have gone through all the other issues mentioned above and did not encounter any, a busted torque converter is making your car shut off while driving.

My Car Shuts Off While Driving But Turns Back On – What To Do Next?

When your car is stalling, especially when driving at high speed or on a road with heavy traffic, it can become a safety hazard. If you do not take good care of your ride, you become responsible for what happens to you and what happens to others because of you.

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Thus, to ensure you do not get stranded in the middle of nowhere or cause an accident on a busy road, we recommend you maintain your on-road safety by following the steps mentioned below:

– Pull Over Your Car At A Safe Location

The first thing you should do as soon as your car shuts off while driving but starts back up is to stay calm and pull over your car at a safe place on the roadside.

When your car is acting out, it will lose its ability to brake and steer, so instead of trying to take it home or to a nearby mechanic, simply try to get out of the traffic and park to ensure the safety of yourself and your fellow drivers. Use emergency brakes to stop at such times. Slowing down or even applying regular brakes is too tricky.

– Turn On The Emergency Flashers or Hazard Lights

The next thing you should do after parking your car safely is to alert fellow drivers of your situation. For that, turn on your emergency flashers. They will alert or notify the incoming traffic about your situation, allowing them to either slow down or drive away.

The purpose of hazard lights is to tell fellow drivers that you have an emergency situation and will not be merging back into the traffic.

– Try Restarting Your Car

Now that you have safely pulled yourself out of the traffic and alerted fellow drivers of your situation, it is time you try to restart your vehicle. When your car shuts off while driving but starts back up, and you cannot pinpoint the issue, it is better to wear your ride out.

Restrict yourself to two restarts. If your ride starts, try to reach the nearest repair shop; if not, do not engage vigorously to restart your ride.

– Call For Help Or Roadside Assistance

There is a high chance that your vehicle might completely die on you, with no option left for you but to ask for help. You can contact your friends or family to get you. If they are unavailable, you can contact roadside assistance services like a towing company or your car insurance provider.

Most car insurance companies offer roadside assistance to their customers. So you can contact them. But if the worst is happening and you have no service, or your phone dies, you can get the help of the police. They can assist you with your problem and ensure the safety of your car.

Top FAQs About Car Shuts Off While Driving No Check Engine Light

Why did my car shut off while backing up?

There can be several reasons why your automobile shuts down abruptly while you are driving, parking, or backing up.

First, you should park your car carefully in a safe place. The next thing to do is look for any apparent issues with your car. You can take the help of an OBD Scanner.

It can be a broken timing belt, worn-out spark plugs, a bad fuel pump, faulty ignition, or other issues that let your car have this meltdown.

But to know for sure, have a professional look at it and get the accurate answer to why my car shut off while driving.

How can I fix my car that randomly dies while driving?

The first step to fix your ride that has died randomly is to diagnose its issue. You can use a scanner tool to diagnose the issue.

If it is something like blocked injectors, worn-out spark plugs, or others, you can fix yourself; just get right at it.

However, if you cannot find or fix the issue, take your car to a repair shop and let the experts handle it.

Can a dead battery cause a car to shut off while parked or driving?

If the alternator of your four-wheeler is functioning accurately, a dead battery can not cause your vehicle to halt while driving. You will get a warning that your car battery is drained via the battery warning light on your dash. But your ride will not die as the alternator is working correctly.

Do not ignore it because if you do not juice up your battery, you might be unable to start your car again. 

However, if your ride is showing a battery warning light and your engine dies while driving, it is a clear sign that you have a bad alternator, causing your car battery to drain at a faster rate.

Can bad spark plugs cause my vehicle to stop while I am driving?

YES. Spark plugs are a crucial part of your car engine. They provide the ignition to start your car. But if they are degraded, they can cause your car to shut off while driving but start back up by causing frequent misfires.

With frequent misfires, your engine will finally shut down completely. There are low chances that you can get your ride started again.

So whether your ride starts back up or not, look at them and replace them if there are any signs of wear & tear.

What should I do if my car shuts off while driving?

There are times when a healthy-looking ride can cause trouble on the road. It can be baffling and a matter of concern.

So the first thing you should do is park your car at a safe location away from the moving traffic.

Check your fuel and engine oil levels before starting the car again. Do not restart your car if the engine oil and fuel level are low or you hear strange noises coming from the engine.

Call for roadside assistance or a towing company to have your ride taken to a professional repair shop.

Is a car that turns off while driving safe?

Whether or not an automobile that is intermittently stalling is safe to drive depends on the issue causing it. If the issue is caused by low engine oil or fuel levels, it is a safe ride as it only lacks some necessary fluids.

However, if you suspect a problem with your ride’s alternator or fuel pump, your ride is not safe to drive.

You must take such a car to a mechanic and have the issue fixed as soon as possible.


If you are frequently dealing with questions like “My car shuts off while driving but starts back up,” it is high time you have a professional take a thorough look at it.

Having your ride stall or stop out of the blue is not safe. There can be several internal mechanical issues causing it. Do not avoid taking the necessary measures simply because you can start your car back up.

This article covers the top 10 reasons why your car shuts off while driving and how to deal with each issue if you face them while on the road.


Ritambra is an absolute car fanatic who loves the ultimate Porsche 911. It is her dream car she wishes to own someday. She has over four years of experience in automotive writing. She loves to explore new car launches, different car accessories, latest automobile technologies, find out the best purchases, and where can fellow car fanatics find the best buying deals. With her skillful writing and in-depth knowledge of the automotive industry, you will learn about the latest automotive trends, news, launches, car reviews, top automobile comparisons, car maintenance, usage advice, and more. Her writing is delightful, informative, and entertaining, even for casual readers. You will fall in love with cars with Ritambra's writing and unshakable passion for them.

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