car dies when put in gear

Car Dies When Put in Gear! Causes & How to Fix It?

If you are on this page, you might have had some issues with your car dying whenever you put it in gear. I know how frustrating and how dangerous it can be. 

It is common for new drivers to stall a car when learning to drive a manual transmission, as each car’s clutch has its own unique feel. However, if an automatic car stalls when put into gear, it may indicate that a visit to a mechanic is necessary. Some of these issues can also affect manual cars.

In today’s article, I will tell you about the reasons why a car dies when put in gear and what can you do to fix this issue. So, let’s start!

car dies when put in gear

Causes of a Car Dying When Put in Gear

1. Faulty Idle Air Control Valve

A faulty idle air control valve is one of the most common causes of why a car dies when it’s put in gear. The use of an idle control valve is to regulate the quantity of air flowing into a vehicle’s engine when it’s idling.

So, it’s not working, it will cause a lesser quantity of air flow inside the vehicle engine which can lead to problems with your vehicle’s idle speed. 

Your engine will stall whenever you shift gears if the idle speed is very low. This problem will be visible when you are stopping your vehicle or driving at low speed. 

How to Fix it?

You might try the following steps to repair the faulty idle air control valve:

  1. Check the gearbox or idle air control valve.
  2. The idle or gearbox air control valve should be reset.
  3. Ensure the idle air control valve is clean. Most of the time, cleaning the valve will solve the issue. Only if it is damaged is it required to replace the IAC valve.

2. Dirty air filter

Although it can contribute to a number of problems that may result in such symptoms, a dirty air filter is unlikely to directly cause a car to die when shifting gears. Poor acceleration, misfiring, stalling, and rough idling are just a few of the problems that can occur when an engine runs rich due to a filthy air filter restricting airflow into the engine. Additionally, an overabundance of carbon buildup on the air-flow sensor may be brought on by a dirty air filter, which may lead to poor engine performance, including stalling when changing gears.

While a dirty air filter may cause stalling or jerky shifting, it is more probable that another mechanical or electrical issue—such as a broken fuel pump, a clogged fuel filter, wiring problems, broken sensors, or gearbox issues—is to blame.

How to fix it?

The best option is to replace or clean the air filter if a dirty one is causing your automobile to stall when changing gears. Most car owners can complete this easy and affordable maintenance chore. Usually, an engine compartment with a plastic housing houses the air filter. 

If the air filter is washable and reused, you can clean it with compressed air or by gently tapping it to get rid of any loose dirt. However, it is advised to replace the air filter with a new one if it appears to be severely clogged or broken. 

Simply open the housing, take out the outdated filter, and replace it. It’s crucial to use the right kind of air filter for the make and model of your particular car. You can refer to your owner’s manual or have a mechanic help you if you’re unclear how to proceed.

3. Low Fuel Pump Pressure

Another common cause of why a car dies when you put in gear is a low fuel pump pressure. The purpose of the fuel pump is to help flow the fuel from the tank into the engine.

So, if the pressure is very low, the engine might not get enough fuel to properly run which will cause the car to die, mostly whenever you are driving at lower speed or the engine is under heavy load. 

How to Fix?

Get the fuel pump and your car’s fuel system inspected by a professional mechanic if the low fuel pump pressing is the issue which is causing your car to stall when you are shifting gears. It is because an expert can tell you better about the problem and provide fixes according to the problem so your car can work smoothly again.

Mostly, when you are driving at low speeds or when there is a severe load on your engine, low fuel pump pressure will prevent the engine from receiving sufficient fuel to run properly, which will cause it to shut off or stall. 

4. Dirty Fuel Filter

Dirty fuel filters can also cause your car to die when put in gear for various reasons. Firstly, a dirty fuel filter can prevent flow of fuel into the engine, which can cause the car to stall because of no fuel flow. 

The other reason is that it allows dirt and debris to pass through which can clog up fuel injectors which can damage the fuel system if it’s not replaced on time.

How to Fix it?

The best course of action is to change the fuel filter if a dirty fuel filter is causing your automobile to stall when changing gears. Most car owners or a mechanic can complete this reasonably easy and affordable maintenance operation. Normally, the gasoline filter is situated between the fuel tank and the engine along the fuel line. 

The old filter must be taken out and replaced with a new one when the fuel line is severed from the filter. It’s crucial to use the right kind of fuel filter for the make and model of your particular car. You can refer to your owner’s manual or have a mechanic help you if you’re unclear how to proceed.

5. Vacuum Leak

A car’s vacuum system will help to regulate the air/fuel mixture in your car’s engine. If there is any leak in this system, there will be disruption in the balance of air and fuel, which can cause the engine to either run lean or rich. THis imbalance will result in engine stalking whenever you put your car in gear and can cause damage with time. 

How to Fix it?

Some of the examples that can lead to a vacuum leak include a bad gasket, a cracked vacuum hose or a broken vacuum valve. To prevent any engine damage, you should identify these parts and repair any vacuum leaks as soon as you can.

6. Clutch malfunctions

In manual transmission cars, clutch issues can occur for some reasons more than driver error. These can include a worn pressure plate, a warped flywheel, a leak, or misalignment.

How to Fix it?

You can take your car to a mechanic and get your clutch inspected to find the exact issue. After that your mechanic will fix it for you and you will be good to god. The most common clutch problems happen because of  a worn pressure plate, a leak or misalignment, a deformed flywheel.

7. Weak Battery

The majority of the time, a weak car battery might also make the automobile die when it is in gear. This will occur, especially if you haven’t started your automobile in a long time, because the battery may not have enough power to start the engine. 

To add on, the engine is heavily loaded when you shift into drive, and it won’t have enough power to continue running. A weak battery definitely has an immense impact on your car’s performance. 

How to Fix it?

The electrical system of your car can get overloaded and your car may crash while you are driving if the alternator has to work hard because of a dead battery. 

Check and fix the batteries periodically to keep your car operating and make sure it keeps doing what it should.

8. Bad Torque Converter

The torque converter purpose is to transfer the power from your car’s engine to the gearbox in cars with automatic transmission. If the torque convertor is faulty,  Whenever you put your car in gear the vehicle will stall.

This problem will take place if the torque converter is not able to properly transmit power to the gearbox, which in turns create a “stall out”, or if it’s unable to retain adequate tractions, which can lead to “slipping”, stalling or a loss of power. 

How to Fix it?

The gearbox might experience some issues due to a faulty torque converter, like difficulty in gear shifting or some strange noises. So, to avoid any further harm to your vehicle, a faulty torque convertor should be fixed before it’s too late. 

9. Corroded Spark Plugs

Spark plugs can also cause your car to die when put in gear. Spark plugs mostly do the job of igniting the fuel in the engine, which is needed to run the engine. So, the engine will stall if the spark plugs aren’t working correctly and don’t deliver proper spark to ignite the fuel.

How to Fix it?

It’s possible that corrosion will prohibit the spark plugs from delivering a strong enough spark to ignite the fuel. The engine of the car may misfire or stall as a result when it is put into gear. To fix the stall, you might need to replace your spark plugs.

There are many potential reasons why a car may stall when put in gear, but the good news is that many of these issues have simple solutions, as discussed in this article. 

Regular maintenance of your car may not be the most exciting task, but it can help prevent costly repairs and is well worth the effort. Stalling when shifting gears is a common problem for drivers, and many of these issues can be resolved by the driver. It is important to address this issue promptly, even if it requires more expensive repairs.


A: When you shift into gear, a car may stall for a variety of reasons, including problems with the clutch, gearbox, electrical system, or engine. It is preferable to take your car to a mechanic for a full inspection. 

A: No, you cannot drive a car that dies when you shift into gear safely since doing so could harm the engine and make the vehicle hazardous to drive at any time. It is preferable to address the issue as soon as you can. 

A: It all depends on why the problem happened and your experience, you might be able to fix it yourself or you might not be. However, if you are unsure if you can fix it on your own , then it’s better to visit a mechanic.

A: Depending on the type and model of the car as well as labour rates at the repair shop, the cost to address each of these problems varies. It is preferable to bring the vehicle to a mechanic who can identify the problem and calculate the cost of repairs.

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