Car starts then dies immediately | 12 Reasons Why your Car Starts then Dies

The vehicle owner wants the efficient working of the vehicle. If your car engine starts and then dies immediately, it means there is something wrong with your car. The car engine may die due to low fuel, low coolant level, engine overheating, clogged air filter, clogged fuel filter, or bad crankshaft. As you identify the reason of the problem, then immediately fix it. This article mainly explains the causes of a car that starts and then shuts off.

Common Reasons a Car Starts Then Shuts Off

1) Bad Idle Air Control Valve

The Idle Air Control valve plays a big role in the efficient working of the car. This valve uses to regulate the car’s air/fuel mixture at idling. It also helps to manage the idle speed when the engine load changes, such as turning up the radio, turning on the headlights, or turning on the air conditioning.

The failure of the idle air control valve can result in unstable idle speed or a complete stall of the vehicle. This applies in particular to cold start conditions.

In case of a defective IAC valve, you may continue to run the engine by refueling. This is a temporary fix, but it may mean something other than being stuck and safely getting to your destination.

As the idle air control valve goes bad, you must fix it immediately. Clean the valve to see if the problem goes away. If your vehicle is still producing problems, then contact the mechanic.

2) Bad Vacuum Leak

A vacuum leak is a hole that permits air to enter without weighing the engine down. It is located behind the MAF (mass air flow) sensor in the air intake system of the car. It deviates the desired air/fuel ratio and ensures the lean running of the vehicle.

If the fuel-air mixture is too lean, the vehicle may shake at startup and then dies very quickly.

In many cases, the car continues its run with a slight vacuum leak. If the leak converts into the worst condition, the fuel injector will not have the ability to keep up with all the additional unmetered air without the system to burn fuel properly in the combustor.

If you open the hood, you might find something that is clearly out of places, such as a disconnected or broken vacuum line. If there aren’t immediately obvious leaks, you can do a smoke test to check the exact cause of the leak.

3) Lack of Fuel

The lack of fuel is one of the most common reasons due to that car starts and then dies. The proper supply of fuel is very important for the efficient working of the car. As the fuel level becomes low than the required level of the vehicle, the vehicle starts creating issues and sometimes doesn’t start.

Therefore, full the fuel tank before driving. 

However, a low fuel level is easy to find. Install the fuel pressure gauge on the fuel rails or carefully loosen the screws to check the fuel pressure when starting the engine.

Your vehicle may also face fuel shortage issues due to leakage. You may also have a faulty:

  • Fuel pressure regulator
  • Sensor
  • Fuel pump
  • Injector
  • Fuel rails
  • Fuel pump relay

4) Dirty Fuel Filter

The fuel filter ensures contaminated free fuel supply to the vehicle engine. It removes contamination by the fuel and then supplies to the engine. If your car stalls after you turn the ignition on, it means you have fuel-related issues. Fuel filters are ubiquitous and cause low fuel pressure.

The proper cleaning and replacement of the fuel filters are vital for the proper working of the vehicle.

The replacement time scale of the fuel filters depends on the distance that the vehicle travel and the vehicle model. If you don’t replace it for a long time, it may be clogged.

Fuel filters are usually easy and inexpensive to replace. If the fuel pressure is low, it’s worth replacing.

Read More: Signs of Bad Fuel Filter

5) Ignition Issue

The ignition system has the responsibility to produce a spark that burns the air-fuel mixture in the combustor.

If there is a problem with the ignition system (e.g., a faulty spark plug), then the system will not properly produce a spark to combust the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber properly. In such a condition, your car dies as you start it.

For the efficient working of the ignition system, your vehicle battery must have a connection, and the terminals are not corroded. If the terminals are corroded, then try to clean them. Use battery terminal cleaners to clean the corroded terminals.

Your ignition coil or spark plug wire must be properly connected to each spark plug. If the spark plug wire is pulled out or broken when the engine is struggling to keep running on fewer cylinders, it can cause a misfire and usually stall.

6) Bad Crankshaft/ Camshaft Position Sensor

The car starts and then dies due to a bad crankshaft/camshaft position sensor. The camshaft and crankshaft position sensors tell the engine control unit (ECU) about the position of the camshaft and crankshaft at all times. This permits the control unit to adjust the spark plug firing (ignition timing) according to the position of the revolving parts.

If the ECU does not receive a clear signal, the engine may not start or may freeze shortly after starting.

If the camshaft or crankshaft position sensor doesn’t send the signal, the ECU turns on the check engine light. This check engine light indicates a specific code. Try to read this code and find the exact wire that is creating the problem.

Check the crankshaft/camshaft sensor connectors to ensure the wires are free of corrosion or bare metal.

7) Faulty Spark Plug

The petrol engine highly depends on the spark plug. As the piston compresses the air-fuel mixture, the spark plug uses to generate a spark for the ignition process.

As the spark plug fails, it will not generate a spark, and the air-fuel mixture will not ignite; due to that, your car will not move. This can lead the car to start for a few seconds, but the weak sparks will cause it to backfire too much, and the engine will die immediately.

8) Fuel Injector

The fuel injector uses to inject the fuel into the combustor. It increases the fuel injector and then injects it into the combustor. The injector’s function is to deliver the precise amount of fuel according to the combustion chamber requirements.

If the fuel injector fails, the engine can run on fewer cylinders, and fuel pressure can be lower if one cylinder is left open.

First, touch the injectors with your hand to feel if they generate clicking noise. If you don’t hear a clicking noise, one of them may be defective.

9) Bad EGR Valve

An EGR valve helps to control the emission of harmful exhaust gases. When the EGR valve goes bad and stays open, too much air may enter the intake manifold.

This can lead the air-fuel mixture to become too lean due to your vehicle starts and then dies after a few seconds.

10) ECU (Engine Control Unit)

The engine control unit (ECU) is a computer system that helps to control different functions of the engine, such as the fuel injection system and cooling system. The car requires a precise amount of fuel to run. As the ECU goes bad, the car dies after starting.

The ECU uses different sensors to control the function of different engine parts. After some duration, the sensor can fail, and incorrect information is passed to the ECU. In such a condition, you should contact a specialist.  

11) Fuel Pump Leak

The fuel pump delivers fuel from the fuel tank to the engine. Leaks in the fuel injection system or fuel pump can generate different issues with the internal combustion process. The engine needs a precise amount of fuel and air to mix for the combustion process.

If the fuel pump is leaked, then the combustion chamber may not be getting the right amount of fuel. This may be enough to start the engine but may not keep the engine running.

12) Bad Carburetor

The carburetor is most commonly used in the petrol engine vehicle. It mixes the air and fuel according to the combustion chamber requirements. If the carburetor fails for any reason, the air-fuel ratio can go down.

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