Car Engine Suddenly Stops? Here Are Common Car Issues That Can Catch You by Surprise

One part of being a car owner is dealing with sudden, unexpected problems. Issues like the engine suddenly stopping or aircon not working can be annoying and at worst, dangerous, but you can deal with them calmly if you know the possible causes and their severity. Most problems can be prevented by sticking with your car’s service schedule, but even then, some may creep up unexpectedly. 

So to help you be prepared, here are common car issues that may catch you by surprise and how to deal with them.

Young man with car breakdown

Car Suddenly Stops on The Road

Having your engine die while driving can be a scary thing especially if you’re on a fast-moving highway as there’s always a risk of an accident. Before we look at what you should do in that situation, here are the common causes of why a car engine suddenly stops.

  • Engine overheating: Overheating is the most common cause of cars suddenly stopping. If you let the engine run for too long while overheating, the pistons can melt resulting in the engine shutting down.
  • Low engine oil levels: The engine oil lubricates the engine to keep it at optimum operating temperature. Low fluid levels can increase friction, causing the engine to overheat and seize up, or even causing the pistons to crack or break.
  • Alternator problems: The alternator generates electricity as you drive to power your car’s electrical components, recharge the battery, and produce the sparks in the spark plug. If there’s an issue with the alternator, the spark plugs might not produce sparks, interrupting the combustion in the engine.
  • Faulty fuel system: Issues with the fuel system may affect the amount of fuel supplied to the engine. If you have leaks in the fuel lines, or a faulty fuel pump and fuel filter, your engine might not get enough fuel to function.
  • Faulty catalytic converter: The catalytic converter functions to reduce the harmful gasses being released in the exhaust fumes. If it is faulty or becomes clogged, the exhaust pipe can get backed up, which overworks the engine causing it to stop.

Read More: Car Warning Lights And Indicators. What Do They Mean?

If your car suddenly stops on the road and you can’t turn it back on, you should stay calm and try to coast to the side of the road. If you end up stationary in the middle of the road, turn on your emergency signals, and only try to push your car to the curb if it’s safe enough. Otherwise, it’s safer to stay in the car and allow traffic to slow down first.

Then, call a tow truck to tow you to a nearby workshop and have a mechanic check your car. Since there could be any number of reasons for your car to suddenly stall, they may need a day or even more to identify the cause so be prepared for it. 

Car Suddenly Jerks

If your car suddenly jerks, lurches, or vibrates excessively while driving, there might be something messing with the combustion, fuel delivery, or transmission. While sudden vibrations are seldom urgent problems, they could lead to serious damage in the engine if left unchecked. 

A jerking car can be caused by worn or damaged spark plugs, dirty air and fuel filters, clogged fuel injectors, or transmission issues. Most of these issues can be fixed with regular maintenance, so you might want to first check if you’ve missed your service schedule if your car starts jerking.

If your car is still under warranty, it’s a good idea to get it thoroughly checked to rule out any manufacturing defects. If you drive a CVT (continuously variable transmission) car, and it jerks especially when driving from a standstill, you could have an issue with dirty transmission fluid. That said, unless your car jerks excessively and consistently, or does it at high speed and thus posing a crash hazard, you can mostly wait for your next service to get it checked.

Stressed young woman in car

Sudden Acceleration While Driving 

Sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) happens when a vehicle accelerates without a driver’s control. Although it’s an uncommon car issue, it’s also one of the more dangerous. 

It can happen when the accelerator pedal becomes unresponsive, entrapped (stuck) to the floor mat, or when there’s a malfunction in the electronic throttle control. These issues can cause your car to accelerate without your input and sometimes even prevent you from braking or returning your car to neutral gear.

Sudden acceleration is dangerous as it could cause accidents especially if it happens on a crowded road. If you realize your car is suddenly accelerating out of control, here are steps you can take to regain control.

  1. Firstly, don’t turn off your engine as you will lose control of the brakes and steering, impacting your ability to move off the road.
  2. Press down hard on the brake pedal until you can stop or move your car to the side. Don’t pump the brakes as it could cause your car to lose control or roll over. If your brakes aren’t working, gently apply the emergency brake to slow down your car.
  3. Put your car in neutral or depress the clutch pedal to disengage the transmission. This will stop the engine from pushing the car forward. Avoid making sudden or irregular movements while driving as it could cause your car to lose control.
  4. Once you manage to slow down your car, move it to a safe spot on the side of the road. Then turn off the engine and put the parking brakes on. As this is a serious issue, it’s best to get your car to the nearest workshop to get it fixed.

Car temperature gauge

Sudden Temperature Increase

Overheating is one of the more common car issues and is usually caused by faulty components in the coolant system or low coolant levels. That said, it’s also usually identified early since you can monitor the engine temperature on your car’s information display. In rare cases, overheating can lead to your engine catching fire. Here’s what you should do if your car suddenly overheats.

  1. If you notice the engine temperature warning light coming on or if there’s smoke coming out of the engine, you should first keep calm and slowly move off the road. 
  2. Once you’ve stopped at the side of the road, turn off the engine. If you’re close to a workshop or parking lot, slowly drive there instead.
  3. If you manage to get to a workshop, let them look at it. Otherwise, wait till your car cools down a bit before opening the hood. Make sure the engine is cool enough before opening or you’ll risk burning yourself.
  4. After your engine has cooled down, top up the water in the radiator and try to drive to a nearby workshop. If you can’t start your car, get a tow truck to bring you to a workshop. 

Read More:  Stop Driving On An Almost-empty Fuel Tank Or Risk Damaging Your Fuel Pump

Car Making Sudden Noises

Odd noises from cars are common issues and usually point to wear and tear. If the noises are a one-off thing, you probably don’t need to worry about it, but if they happen often, you should definitely get them checked. Here are some common sounds that you should be aware of.

  • Squealing brakes: Squealing brakes could mean that your brake rotors are nearing the end of their lifespan or it could just be the dust and debris. If your brakes squeal often and persistently, it’s time to check them.
  • Low humming or droning noise: A low humming noise from the tires while driving could mean that your tires are old, worn, or underinflated. If your tires still hum when they’re properly inflated, it could be time to change them. However, you could also have worn wheel bearings, so it’s best to get the opinion of your mechanic.
  • Squealing when you start the car: If your car makes a loud squealing sound that gradually fades, you most likely have a faulty serpentine belt. Unlike the timing belt which helps to propel your car, the serpentine belt helps power the various electrical components in your car from the alternator to the power steering. If you have this problem, get your serpentine belt checked immediately.
  • Rattling noises: A rattling or vibrating noise could mean that something is loose somewhere in your car. It would probably be more annoying than anything if the noise is from a loose piece of interior trim but if it’s coming from the front or rear end of your car, then you might have worn suspension components. The main culprit is usually the bushing but it could also be a bad ball joint or shock absorber. To identify if your suspension is the source of the rattling, first, park your car. Then, press down firmly on the exterior corner and listen for a sound. 

Sudden High Revvings

Has your car’s engine RPM suddenly increased while driving? It might be caused by several issues including those relating to the transmission, timing belt, speed sensor, worn spark plugs, or dirty fuel injectors or air filters. Unless the spike in RPM happens often, most of these issues aren’t that serious, though it’s still best to get it checked as soon as possible.

If you notice a high revving noise while driving, stay calm and aware of your surroundings. You might want to let off the accelerator pedal and be ready to press on the brakes in case you need to. Otherwise, the revving should stop in a few seconds. If the RPM stays high for more than a few seconds and occurs several times throughout your drive, it’s best to get it checked right away as it could signify that parts such as the timing belt or transmission are close to failing.

Mechanic checking car engine

Car Aircon Suddenly Not Cold

We’ve probably all faced this problem where our car aircon is suddenly not cold anymore. And in a hot tropical climate like ours, that can make driving unbearable. So, why is your car aircon suddenly blowing hot air? Here are the main culprits of this problem.

  • Low refrigerant levels:  Without enough refrigerant, your aircon can’t effectively cool down the air before blowing it into the cabin. 
  • Damaged condenser cooling fan: The fan circulates the air in the aircon and cools down the condenser. Without it, the condenser can’t function as it should and air can’t circulate well enough to be cooled down.
  • A broken condenser: The condenser cools down the refrigerant, which absorbs the heat from the air in your cabin. So a broken condenser will cause your aircon unable to absorb the heat in the air.

If your aircon is suddenly blowing hot air or just doesn’t get cold enough, it’s time to visit an aircon specialist as soon as possible. Most of the time, the problem is due to low refrigerant levels, so you might just need to top it up. 

You can also inspect the cooling fan yourself which is located in the engine bay at the front of the car. There are often two fans – one on the radiator, and another on the condenser. However, some cars have only one fan for both systems. When you switch on the aircon, the condenser fan should be running. If it’s not, or if it spins slowly, then it might be the root of the problem. 

Sudden Jump in Resale Value

So you discovered that your car’s resale value has suddenly increased, but you don’t know if you should do anything about it. Well, you could sell it if you’ve been meaning to downsize your garage. Or, if you’ve been thinking of upgrading your ride, now is the perfect time to trade it in for a new one!

Before you decide to trade in your car, though, make sure you consider your needs, budget, and ability to cover the monthly expenses of the car. Otherwise, you might be biting off more than you can chew.

If you’re looking for great deals on affordable, quality cars, check out CARSOME. With the already affordable prices of our cars, you can save even more when you trade in with us. You can also rest assured that CARSOME Certified cars are thoroughly inspected to rule out major accident and flood damage, besides being professionally refurbished both inside and out.

What’s more, you can expect these promises with every CARSOME Certified car:

  • Fixed prices without any hidden fees. Our prices already include the road tax, PUSPAKOM inspection fee, ownership transfer fee, and loan application fee.
  • A five-day money-back guarantee in case you change your mind.
  • A one-year warranty to ensure further peace of mind.

Check out CARSOME or download our app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store today!