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Car Dies While Idling but Restarts Later: What Are the Reasons?

Like every other mechanical structure, an automobile is also supposed to have troubles due to issues with one or multiple components. One such particular problem is car dies while idling but restarts later. There could be numerous reasons for the engine to fail to maintain power at low speeds. You may need to seek professional help because it sometimes needs special expertise to troubleshoot this particular complication.

Car Dies While Idling but Restarts Later: The Reasons

It is quite irritating when your car shuts off while idling, especially when you are at the traffic signal. It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reason without the help of an expert mechanic. However, you can still look into some specific areas to spot the source of the trouble.

Fault in the Transmission

This particular problem is unique to automatic transmission vehicles. The manual transmissions have a manual clutch for transmitting power. An auto gearbox has a torque converter instead to do this task. If it is cracked or damaged, or the fluid level in the transmission becomes low, the vehicle will die at the time of idling. A broken torque converter solenoid can also be the culprit.

car shuts off while idling
Defective auto transmission can cause this problem.

Clogged Fuel Filter

If the car dies while idling but restarts later, drive the car up and down a steep road to see if the problem persists. If the car still stalls, it is certain that the source of the problem is a blocked fuel filter. You can easily replace it though and it is pretty cheap too.

Fuel Pump and Fuel Injectors

A broken fuel pump cannot properly transfer fuel from the oil tank to the engine, causing the fuel pressure to reduce. The inconsistent oil streaming to the engine does not cause any issue at high speeds but cannot keep it running at low speeds or while idling.

On the other hand, dirty fuel injectors either do erratic spray or no spray of oil at all, causing the stalling of vehicles while idling.

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Defective Mass Air Flow Sensor

The sensor provides the engine with the quality and quantity of the air that goes into the motor. Based on that information, the Engine Control Unit (ECU) decides the amount of oil to be sent to the engine. The air flow sensor will give incorrect readings if it is defective or dirty, causing the car shutting off problem when idling.

Malfunctioning Idle Air Control Actuator

car dies while idling but restarts
Issue with the actuator will result in car stalling at idling.

This component controls the RPMs when the engine is idling. The electronic control unit sends information to the actuator so that it can keep the engine functioning by maintaining the right RPM. If it’s faulty, it does not send any information to the engine, causing it to stall at idling.

Issues with the Wiring Harness

A car dies while idling but restarts later due to misfiring ignition too. If the wires in the wiring harness are corroded or loose, the car will lose voltage because of the unstable connection to the ignition circuit. As a result, the engine won’t have adequate power to stay functioning when the speed slows down.

  1. Clyde Asiema says

    My car partly dies while idling or the idling varies going low. At other times while idling it increases the rate by itself. This is a Nissan wingroad manual transmission. What could be the issue?


    My car, a 1999 NISSAN ‘Altima’, stalls occasionally and when it does, EVERY system “DIES”, including, all lights, radio and ignition. Then, within a few minutes, I turn on the ignition and EVERYTHING bursts into life again and the car performs just fine until the next indeterminate time and date. Sometimes, but NOT ALWAYS, turning on the A/C will cause the car to stall when in a parked position. I should be most grateful for a little help regarding this frustrating problem. THANK YOU.

  3. LUIS OCHOA says

    Have 2017 Jeep Cherokee latitude 35000 miles on it and just started to turned off while I driving it
    take something while to restart but no easy as normal do

  4. Anthony Gonzalez says

    I have a 2012 hyundai sonata and I had the same troubles all people talk about. Car shakes and shuts off. Car turns off while at a stop. Car shuts off when you slow down at a turn then gas it. Car shuts off while at idle, then turns on later. While all the answers that are given in this article can be a factor yes. But theres always one factor that noone is paying any attention to and that is, your brakes are always applied when in this situation . Even if your not on your brake. Can the brake switch stay on after you press the brake? sure can. That’s what was wrong with my car, the rubber brake switch grament that was installed by the manufacuture to depress the brake switch was defective. The switch stud indented its self into the grament and when brake was released the brake lights would stay on. all newer cars have a safety device now If you are driving and your gas pedal gets stuck which has happened to many people even deaths because of falty gas pedals when brake is applied while gas pedal is stuck it kills the gas pump .which infact stalls or shuts off you car. So if your driving and brake. Or come to a stop and your car stalls it’s most likely your brake switch or the grament that depresses the brake. I change the grament with a hard plastic one instead of rubber. And my car is a champ. My name is Anthony I’m an Aerospace Mech here at GKN aerospace ca. I fixed my own car because dealers could not figure out what the problem was.

    1. Samuel says

      Did this fix work for the long term? Did you completely get rid of the issue?
      Thank you.

  5. Sophia says

    I have 2000 honda accord lx car turn off when driving but notice when i restart the car, if the check engine lite is not on the car wont start until it is struck. Hitting the steering column does the trick but going nuts trying to figure it out. Replace the steering column, reprogramed keys, dashboard cluster and wire harness to the key ignition. Lost for what needs to be wrong.

  6. Dushmal says

    I have a toyota corolla 2 corsa EL 30-1990 car.
    engine is carburetor model.
    recently my car engine start and engine shut off after 3 minutes.
    it will not start then. i have to wail around 30 minutes.
    1 week ago i changed the fuel pump, fuel filter and spark plugs because the engine did not start.
    after that repair engine started and worked smoothly 2 days.
    there after i got that 3 minute problem.
    can any body please help me.

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