How Do I Shut Down A Car Engine That Won’t Turn Off?

Many people will find it strange but sometimes it happens that you tried to shut off the car engine but the ignition switch has been locked. As a result, you won’t be able to turn off your car. It can be very annoying but you need to fix it as soon as possible.

There might be many reasons responsible for this problem. But, you need to fix it as soon as possible. So, to resolve this problem – ‘how to turn off a car engine,’ read below to know the troubleshooting steps you need to perform.

How To Turn off a Car Engine That Is NOT Shutting Down?

This issue can arise due to several different sources. You need to identify the potential cause and fix it up before it leads to something big. So, let’s troubleshoot the concern carefully.

Step 1: Check if There is any Electrical Problem

How to turn off a car in the right way
How to Turn off a Car Engine when the Key is Turned Off. Source: Youtube

When you turn off the car key, do the turn signals or accessories still work? Also, notice if the engine runs efficiently when you put your car in gear and drive away. 

If yes, your car might have an electrical issue and you need to replace the ignition switch element of your vehicle. In case no, follow the next step.

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Step 2: Analyze the Power Relay

It may happen that your car’s engine operates correctly after the ignition switch is detached. If so, you require locating the power relay for the ignition and fuel system. 

Remove the main relay and check if your car finally shuts down. In case it powers down, you need to replace the main relay. If no, move on to the next troubleshooting step.

Step 3: Determine if it’s Dieseling Issue

Check the owner’s manual to determine if your car has a carburetor or fuel injection. If you own a fuel-injected car .i.e. dieseling, you might require replacing the dripping fuel injector. In addition, an erroneous spark plug can also cause dieseling. 

So, check the spark plug by comparing it with the part digit of the producer’s specifications. Replace it if you hit upon anything incorrect.

Step 4: Diagnose the Stop/Start Button

How to turn off a car automatically
How to turn off a car engine with the keys. Source: The Sun

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Vehicles that come with Start/Stop feature can also fail to shut off the car engine when you press the ‘STOP’ button. The reason may be a defective button. If this Start/Stop button stops operating, it needs replacement. 

Depending on the car, the knob may be incorporated into the ignition unit and may need a change along with the unit. You can read on some car maintenance tips in case you face some other car issue.

FAQs on How To Turn Off A Car Engine

  1. Is it safe to continue driving if my car’s engine won’t turn off?

It’s generally not safe to continue driving if your car’s engine won’t turn off. Operating the vehicle with a malfunctioning ignition system can be dangerous, as you may lose control over essential functions like braking and steering.

  1. What are some common reasons why a car’s engine won’t turn off?

Common reasons include ignition switch issues, a malfunctioning ignition key or fob, electrical system problems, or a faulty starter motor or solenoid.

  1. What should I do if my key or ignition switch seems stuck and won’t turn off the engine?

If your key or ignition switch is stuck, try wiggling the steering wheel gently while turning the key or using the key’s release button, if equipped. If this doesn’t work, seek assistance from a locksmith or mechanic.

  1. Can disconnecting the battery shut off the engine if nothing else works?

Disconnecting the battery can stop the engine, but it’s not recommended as a first step. It should be used as a last resort, as it can potentially cause electrical system damage or other issues. Seek professional assistance before attempting this.

  1. Should I shift the car into neutral or park if the engine won’t turn off?

If your car’s engine won’t turn off, shifting it into neutral or park is a good safety measure. This can help prevent unintentional movement while you work on shutting down the engine.

Check out this video from The Clay Way to know what to do if the car won’t shut off with the key removed!

  1. Is there a specific sequence of actions I should follow to shut down the engine safely?

The exact sequence may vary depending on your vehicle’s make and model. However, a general approach includes trying to turn the key or press the engine stop button, shifting into neutral or park, engaging the emergency brake, and seeking professional help if the issue persists.

  1. Can a mechanic or roadside assistance service help me shut down the engine if it won’t turn off?

Yes, a professional mechanic or a roadside assistance service can provide expert assistance in diagnosing and resolving the issue. 

They have the tools and knowledge to safely shut down the engine and repair the underlying problem.

  1. Can a car with a keyless ignition system experience this issue?

Yes, cars with keyless ignition systems can also experience issues where the engine won’t turn off. In such cases, consult your vehicle’s manual for guidance on emergency shutdown procedures.

  1. How can I prevent my car’s engine from not turning off in the future?

Regular maintenance and prompt attention to any ignition system issues can help prevent this problem. 

If you notice any signs of trouble, such as difficulty turning the key or problems with the engine stop button, have them addressed promptly to avoid future shutdown problems.


So, the above-mentioned troubleshooting steps can help you when you get stuck with the problem of ‘how to turn off a car engine’ Don’t forget to follow these helpful tips when you stumble on this situation in future.