Maybe you started your car this morning, and something didn’t sound quite right. Then you drove to work, but halfway, your car started shaking badly, then died.
Does that sound like your car? If so, you might have a bad fuel pump or malfunctioned MAF sensor.
If your car is shaking and then dies, it could signify many different issues.
The most common is an inverted air control valve, worsened camshaft position sensor, worsened vacuum leak, combustion problem, bad fuel injection, or a bad starter.
Keep reading to know how to know more reasons behind your car’s abnormal behavior.
In this brief guide, we’ll help you identify the leading cause behind your car shaking and then dying.
Why Did My Car Suddenly Start Shaking Then Die?
It can be frustrating when you rush, and your car is shaking and sputtering before dying out.
But don’t be confused! Don’t keep trying to make it start if your car fails to start after three tries.
Instead, this can usually be easily solved by knowing what might have caused this to happen. Let us discuss why this could occur and how to solve the issue.
Malfunctioned MAF Sensor
Malfunctioned MAF sensors can cause your car to start shaking and then dying. MAF stands for Mass Air Flow.
This sensor calculates the quantity of air inside the car engine. When it malfunctions, the readings and calculations of MAF are affected.
Dirt gathers on the MAF and sometimes sabotages the correct air calculations in the car engine. So, when someone tries to start the ear with a bad MAF sensor, it shakes and dies out.
You could try MAF sensor cleaners to wipe off these dirt particles in the engine and prevent any possible source of contamination.
If you don’t have any other problems with the MAF sensor, this should solve your problem.
Displaced Timing Chain/Belt
The timing chain/belt is responsible for coordinating the camshafts and crankshafts, which in turn synchronizes the movement of the valves.
When it malfunctions, engine performance suffers as a result.
When there are wrong timings between the opening and closing of the exhaust valves and the inflow of air combustion, the engine starts to shake and then die out when you try to start your vehicle.
A phrase called “skipped a tooth” refers to when the timing belt gets loose. The reason can either be imprecise tensity methods.
If a displaced timing chain/belt is the leading cause behind your car’s sudden shaking and then dying out, solving this problem requires expert mechanic supervision.
Unless you know the advanced techniques yourself, consider seeing a mechanic and getting the timing belt replaced or tightened.
Inverted Air Control Valve
The Air Control Valve controls and maintains the uninterrupted air inflow to the car engine. It is responsible for controlling the AC of your vehicle, the FM radio, and the headlights.
When this valve fails, your car will likely shake, and in the worst-case scenario, it may not start at all. The simplest solution would be cleaning.
Yes, if it only needs to be cleaned, and after that, it starts working correctly, then you are good to go.
However, if this doesn’t solve your problem, you should consider replacing the valve as it is possible that the valve has collapsed due to an electrical issue and needs to be replaced.
Worsened Camshaft Position Sensor
The camshaft position sensor can worsen the following reason behind your car’s shaking and then dying out.
The camshaft position sensors are responsible for fuel delivery and ignition timings. These sensors provide information to the Engine Control Unit on the exact positions of camshafts.
Everything is fine as long as this information flows smoothly from the sensors to the Engine Control Unit, but things start to go awry when these signals are disrupted.
If these signals are not received correctly, the engine’s performance will be negatively affected. So, when you try to start the car, it starts shaking and sometimes collapses.
The Engine Control Unit will let you know of the problem as soon as possible. Take this issue seriously and locate the core of this issue.
Make sure the sensor wires aren’t corroded since this may be causing all the mess.
Taking a detailed look will enable you to determine whether the sensor wires can be repaired or needs to be replaced.
Worsened Vacuum Leak
A leak is a term you can find in engine management systems. The ECU controls and measures the inflow of air in the engine when that air passes through the throttle body.
If there is a leak, unwanted, non-metered air enters the engine – giving you a lean reading that can potentially damage your engine.
As you all know, excess of anything is bad. A vacuum leak allows air into your engine when it isn’t supposed to.
When you’re driving your car and air gets into the system, the sensors can’t do their job. It leads to a loss of power and poor performance.
There’s no reason to panic if you notice a leak, but make sure you get it fixed immediately.
A small leak might not hurt anything, but it can develop into something more severe over time, like unexpected shaking or even total failure while you’re driving.
But, how do you know if there is a leak?
You can go for a smoke test, where the smoke is pumped through the air inflow route in the engine and would come out of any possible leaks. That’s how you would know.
You can either go to the mechanic to close off any possible source of a leak. However, if the problem persists, consider replacing the car vacuums.
Fuel Injector Problem
The job of fuel injectors is to supply the needed fuel to the car cylinders by high pressure. These injectors are responsible for good and stable engine performance.
To carry out this job, they need specific pressure, and they stay in close contact with the ECU.
The sensors keep up with the quantity of pressure and report to the ECU. Then ECU alters and adjusts the pressure.
When this sensor malfunctions, the correct quantity of fuel inflow in the car engine is affected. It may also cause your car to shake and die out suddenly.
Fuel injectors are among essential parts of the car engine and must not be left with this sensor issue. Immediately replace the fuel injector sensors to prevent this.
Yet another leak in the car engine is the fuel pump that can cause your car to start shaking and then dying abruptly.
Any leak in this system results in an affected ignition process when this pump malfunctions or leaks. Not enough quantity of fuel reaches the engine and creates issues.
The less fuel reaches the engine; the more affected the engine’s performance will be. It is recommended to find the leak as soon as possible and fix it.
But when the leak has gotten out of control (unfortunately). It would be best if you changed it with expert supervision.
If your car isn’t starting, you might need to check your ignition system. This system initiates the spark that mixes the fuel and air in the car engine.
If it’s not functioning correctly or your car battery is weak, or spark plugs are dirty, the ignition cannot provide enough power to run the car.
Take a good look at those spark plugs and see if something is unusual.
Fix those plugs to the extent that you can, and if that does not solve the problem, change them to prevent further damage.
Yes, the system that controls everything can also malfunction and cause your car to start shaking and then die out. How?
There can be many reasons for this issue, but the most probable one seems to be the fuel injector issue.
Please do NOT ignore the ECU problem because the whole engine may collapse without it.
However, you can prevent all this from happening by keeping the car engine systems in good health. But if you happen to come across this issue, replace the Engine Control Unit.
Worsened Carburetor System
However, this problem is generally of the old cars and is pretty unlikely in the latest cars, but it is vital to address it.
This system adjusts the air and fuel proportion for the correct ignition.
A worsened carburetor will severely affect this proportion. And it needs to be replaced soon, or else you may suffer from your car’s shaking and then dying abruptly more frequently.
These were the ten possible issues why your car may start shaking and then die out. We have provided their most logical solutions.
There can be other problems with the car engine. Let us know in the comments about your further queries.
With comprehensive experience in writing exceptional quality articles and blogs about cars and related stuff, Daniel is one of the finest bloggers and a hardcore car lover we have. He is an ASE certified technician with an across-the-board experience of 10 years in the industry. He could not help tinkering with anything he got his hands on from a young age, which led to his remarkable career in the automotive repair industry.
When he is not under any hood, you can find him on the water or in the woods to pursue his passion for hunting and fishing. He has been writing for multiple sectors and is a regular contributor to several publications.
He currently owns a Nissan 300ZX TT and a Pearl Yellow but plans to upgrade it to 550 HP. His favorites include the Koenigsegg CCX and Lamborghini Diablo 6.0 VT, but for him, the Ferrari 360 Spider is one of the sexiest cars that exists to date.
Being an avid world traveler, he has spent most of his time analyzing the automotive markets, latest technology, and local favorites to enhance his knowledge base. He is currently living in North Caroline, where it’s all about food and coffee and, of course, cars.