When your car’s engine fires up just fine, you expect it to get you where you need to go. It can be alarming and frustrating if instead, your engine dies. If this happens at any point — at a stop, during normal driving, acceleration or deceleration — you’re dealing with an engine stall.

As the term implies, an engine stall means that your engine abruptly stopped running. After the initial shock of finding yourself on the side of the road, you’ll need to figure out what caused this to happen — and there are many potential reasons.

If you’ve eliminated obvious reasons for the stall, such as an empty gas tank or operator error when using a clutch in a car with a manual transmission, you’ll need to investigate the cause further. 
It is not fun to deal with a stalled engine. Fortunately, several of the causes are simple to fix and easily preventable in the future. Let’s take a look at some common reasons for a stalled engine.


The best way to avoid an engine stall is to perform routine engine maintenance. Fortunately, there are a couple of basic things you can do on your own that don’t require a mechanic.

Do a quick visual inspection of your engine. First, take a look at your battery. You can easily diagnose battery issues if you see corrosion on the terminals. Next, check and replace the air filter regularly — about every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. This is especially important if you live somewhere that is affected by air quality issues.

Pay attention to when your car acts odd. Don’t ignore dimmed lights or difficulty starting. Notice when your vehicle has a rough idle, shaking, or backfire from the exhaust pipe. Listen for ticking noises coming from the engine. Any of these signs can indicate timing issues that can lead to major, expensive, problems if not addressed right away.

most common causes of engine stalls

Fortunately, several of the causes are simple to fix and easily preventable in the future.

Here are some common reasons for a stalled engine.
Fuel system problems
Clogged fuel injectors or dirty fuel lines and filters can prevent your engine from getting the right amount of fuel to run properly. Dirty or old fuel can also cause problems.
dirty air filter
Engines need a specific mixture of fuel and air in order to run. If the engine doesn’t get enough air, it won’t have enough oxygen for combustion. This will stop the engine from running altogether.
bad battery
If your battery is totally dead, your engine won’t start at all. But sometimes when a battery is in the process of dying, you can get your car started, but it slowly loses charge, beyond what your alternator is able to provide. When the charge drops too low, you’ll run into ignition issues, which will cause your engine to fail.

Your alternator is responsible for charging your car’s battery and running many basic engine functions. If it’s faulty, your engine can’t operate. Common signs are dimming lights and malfunctioning electronics.

Timing belt

Your timing belt is similar to your distributor cap in that it helps to synchronize the inner workings of your engine. Timing belts can get worn out, which causes issues during rotation. If the timing is off, your engine will quit, and you’ll be stalled.

distributor cap
Engines run smoothly based on the timed movement of various parts. The distributor cap regulates the firing order of your engine. If it is corroded, cracked, or not rotating properly, your engine might stall.


STALLING is most common in higher mileage vehicles — those with some wear and tear that are more prone to residue buildup and worn parts.
Clogged fuel injectors or dirty fuel lines and filters can prevent your engine from getting the right amount of fuel to run properly. Dirty or old fuel can also cause problems.

A great way to prevent or overcome stalling from dirty fuel system parts is with High Mileage Motor Treatment (or Sea Foam Motor Treatment). High Mileage will clear up clogged injectors and clean your entire fuel system of harmful residues.

Sea Foam also stabilizes fuel for up to two years, preventing gum and varnish from forming while the engine isn’t being used.
“Have a Ford V10 engine stalling at a red light. Started to use seafoam in each refuel and the engine started working great and got better gas mileage.”
Joe tractor man / 2010 Ford F250 V10 / OUTDOOR ENTHUSIAST IN FLORIDA
I was a Fleet mechanic and Sea Foam is EXCELLENT
“I was in charge of maintenance of 15 vans, truck and cars. When I first got hired, all the vehicles had high mileage and ran like garbage. They had not been maintained at all. All the break rotors on all the vehicles were warped and squealing. And the engines, would sputter, stall, backfire, etc. I put a bottle of Sea Foam in each tank. And more importantly, I shot a bottle of throttle body/upper cylinder cleaner in all the intakes. A week later all the employees started asking what I did to the vehicles to make them run so smoothly. I told them ‘Just some maintenance tweaks’. Sea Foam works.”
“1985 Dodge W250 truck. Cleaned carburetors so truck runs right, stopped stalling.”
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