Why does my car die at stop lights and intersections?

Does your car or truck run fine as long as you keep your foot on the gas pedal, but it stalls and dies when you come to a stop light or intersection?  This can be a tricky problem to solve because there are several things that could be causing the issue.  Finding the cause of the problem takes experienced troubleshooting skills and a working knowledge of your vehicle’s air, fuel, and electrical systems.

Here are some things we look at during our troubleshooting process:

  1. Fuel system
    • Clogged fuel Injectors
    • Clogged fuel filter
    • Failing fuel pump
    • Too much moisture in the fuel
    • Fuel pressure regulator
  2. Airflow system
    • Dirty air filter
    • EGR valve (Exhaust Gas Recirculation)
    • Mass airflow sensor
    • Dirty throttle body
  3. Electrical system
    • Check engine light on?
    • Idle speed sensor
    • Mass airflow sensor
    • Distributor cap (older vehicles)

For some vehicles, this issue only happens in cold weather.  If that’s the case, then it is best to try and get it fixed during the cold weather season to make sure that the problem is solved.

Again, there are many possible causes of this issue.  It is important to start with the basics and rule out the simple things first, working methodically toward the more complicated causes of the problem.

Similar questions related to this post:

  • Why does my car or truck die when I come to a stop?
  • Why my car or truck dies when I stop
  • Engine dies when I stop
  • Engine dies when I take my foot off of the gas pedal
  • Engine stalls when I brake


I've been managing transmission and auto repair shops for over 25 years. Prior to that, I worked as a mechanic in Dallas TX. I have always had an interest in fixing cars, and still love it to this day.