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What Causes a Car to Stall While Accelerating

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What causes a car to stall while accelerating? Well, the most common reasons are moisture in the distributor cap, a vacuum leak, or a bad throttle position sensor, however, whatever the reason is, it will all depend on the condition on how the problem of stalling occurs, is the stalling happens on cold rainy mornings, is the stalling is gradually becoming frequent or is the car stall at any engine temperature. Different conditions have different reasons why the problem of stalling especially while accelerating happened.

The reason why cars stall while accelerating

(1) Moisture in the distributor cap.
(2) Vacuum leak.
(3) Bad throttle position sensor.

Car troubleshooting

If the stalling typically happened on a cold wet morning with the engine is cold, then the problem is moisture in the distributor cap causing misfiring. As mentioned above, the stalling problem typically occurs on cold, wet mornings, and when the engine is cold. What is probably going on here in this situation is the following.

During the night, condensation (i.e. moisture) forms inside the distributor cap, it is due to the cold and wet weather and, the fact that the engine is cold. The moisture often allows electrical current to arc inside the distributor cap, resulting in "engine misfire". As it turns out, this arcing is most extreme during acceleration and therefore it causes the engine to misfire so severely, it (the engine) stalls.

What will you do?
The next time you expect rain or any other wet weather coming, park the car inside the garage for the night. This should help prevent moisture from forming inside the distributor cap. However, if this is not typically occurring on cold mornings with a cold engine, then rule out moisture in the distributor cap as the cause of the problem.

If the problem has become more frequent over time then a vacuum leak is possible. As indicated, the stalling problem gradually became more frequent over time. This suggests a "vacuum leak" as being the culprit since vacuum leaks typically start out small and gradually (over time) become worse due to pressure inside the engine.

At this point, you may be wondering what all this "vacuum" stuff is about. Well, it is very difficult for a non-mechanic to properly understand this. Therefore, all that we can be offered is the following simple explanation. The vacuum created in a car's fuel system is one of the key factors in determining how much fuel an engine will get. Any leak in a fuel system's vacuum will intermittently throw off the air/fuel mixture that enters the engine's combustion chambers. Consequently, this results in engine hesitation at the very least or, as in the case of this vehicle, stalling.

What will you do?
Please take the car to a garage and ask the mechanic to check for a vacuum leak. In particular, have the mechanic check both the EGR and PCV valves since these are items that are often found to be the source of vacuum leaks. When talking with the mechanic, describe to him exactly what this article explained to you. Why? Because it's always important to exhibit some knowledge of the problem.

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Cartechhome recommends finding a garage that is approved by the AAA. Such garages tend to be fairly reputable and, best of all, if you have a dispute after any work is done, the AAA has the policy to investigate the situation and resolve it.

Now, if the problem does not become more frequent then rule out the vacuum leak as the problem but rather it's a bad throttle position sensor that causing the problem.

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First off, for a car that has fuel injection and the stalling problem DID NOT "gradually become more frequent over time". This implies that the severity of this problem has likely remained constant throughout. Because of this, a probable cause of this problem is a "bad throttle position sensor". Let's look at this a little closer.

Fuel-injected engines have a "throttle position sensor". This is a device that measures how far the driver has depressed the gas pedal (and thus the throttle). The throttle position sensor feeds its data to the engine's computer which in turn makes a calculation. The result of this calculation is used to determine precisely how much gas the fuel injection system should "inject" into the engine (at that instant).

Toyota throttle position sensor

Now, if the throttle position sensor provides the wrong data to the engine computer it will adversely affect the injection of gas that goes into the engine and it will result in a problem. Clearly then, a faulty throttle position sensor will adversely affect the injection of gas into the engine, often resulted in car stalling during acceleration.

What will you do?
Take the car to a garage and have the mechanic check the throttle position sensor. Tell the mechanic exactly what we talked about in the explanation for this diagnosis. This is very important in that it shows you know something about the nature of this stalling problem.

What Would Cause Car to Shut Off While Driving
What would cause the car to shut off while driving is a vapor lock or faulty pressure regulator, sometimes the car shuts off while driving and won't start. Read more » What Would Cause Car to Shut Off While Driving

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Anonymous said...

WHat if, after the stall, the engine cannot be restarted for about 15 minutes. The engine cranks, but does not start. After waiting, the engine starts, the vehicle runs as if nothing had happened.
Replace the (dot) with a .

Anonymous said...

my car is toyota corolla gli (efi) 94 model, ive been experiencing engine stalling during called start even if not cold wet weather but if the engine gets hot the vehicle runs if nothing had happened. Pls advice....


Anonymous said...

My 81 cutlass has a 5.0 Liter V8, when I have the car in neutral or park I can "gun" it with no problems, but in drive I have to press the accelerator more slowly or it will struggle and/or die...any ideas...?

Anonymous said...

Check your exhaust

Anonymous said...

In hot or cold weather, every morning or evening (when the car has been sitting at a place for some time) - car starts normally, but if put it in gear & accelerate without leaving it in idle for at least a minute or so after starting the engine, engine stalls. In fact even if I just put it in gear without leaving it in idle for sufficient time, I can see hear the engine weak and struggling. But if I leave it in idle for about a minute or so and then drive, no issues after that. It is a 2000 corolla with about 125k miles and has all 4 new iridium spark plugs since last year. And also ever since I had a missing gas tank cap last year, the check engine light keeps coming and going. Engine does consume some oil if I go at higher speeds. If I stick to around 50-55mph, no significant consumption.I keep experimenting with different thicker/synthetic oils but this problem seems independent of whatever oil type I use. Any inputs would be appreciated. Thx.

Addy said...

I have a 04 VW GTi 1.8T auto with the sport shifter - i'm having problems when trying to shift out of first gear (go over 10mph) because the car stalls out, revs up but doesn't jump into gear. I've noticed that I can prevent this from happening half the time by warming up the car for at least 40 minutes before attempting to drive. It's still rough at stop lights and jumps into gear, also around turns it slips out and jumps back into gear.

Anonymous said...

hi i have a toytoa 2e we just replaced the engine and it ran amazing we went a fueled up and when we got to the end of the road it died. now it idles fine put when put foot down the revs come up and then it dies. if you keep pumping the gas pedal it will react but if your to hold the pedal down in any point it will die but will return to idle?????? any ideas be awsome

Anonymous said...


i have an 09 corolla and i've been experiencing weird accelerating and braking problems. My car has stopped letting me accelerate, while the rpm shot up and mph locked at like 20. If i turn it off and turn it back on it runs normal again but my engine light turns on. Sometimes when i'm driving the car sounds like it's pushing but nothing changes on the mph or rpm. It's like i'm accelerating but nothing is happening. My car has also shut off while the battery was still running by itself.

It said there was a pedal position sensor issue, i changed the wiring harness, but this is still happening. Any idea on why???

Sumiet Talekar said...

My car keeps stalling for about 3-4 times but usually after its first few minutes of driving.
After few kms it drives good without any stalls.
What could be the problem??

AdMin said...

Hi, thanks for visiting our site.
About your problem, does the stalling occur during cold weather?

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