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The car cranks & runs fine, but stalls out when you stop. What causes it to stall out when you stop ?

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Jessica Howe, Automotive Expert & Coach at


Thank you for writing in. What you are experiencing is not terribly uncommon. When a vehicle stalls at any point in time, there is an issue with at least one of the three components that make the engine run. These are the fuel system, air intake system, and the ignition system (spark plugs). You will have to go through each until you find the cause of your issues. If you have a warning light or a check engine light, you should start by having the vehicle scanned for diagnostic codes, which will help point you in the right direction. If not, start by checking and/or replacing the spark plugs. While doing so, inspect the spark plug wires to make sure they are tight, clean and not frayed or cracked. You may have to check all of the air intake sensors (mass airflow sensor, idle air control valve, MAP sensor), the fuel system (fuel pressure, fuel injectors, fuel lines), and the more intricate components in the ignition system. Only further inspection will tell. Good luck!

LeeAnn Shattuck, Chief Car Chick at The Car Chick

If the car starts fine but is stalling when you idle (like at a red light), the problem could be fuel-related, electrical or ignition-related.  It could be a variety of issues, such as (but not limited to):

- the fuel pump shutting down due to too much resistance due to a blocked fuel filter

- ignition coil losing electrical signal, possibly due to corroded wiring

- a faulty oxygen or mass air flow sensor

- a bad camshaft or crankshaft position sensor

- clogged EGR valve

- faulty idle air control actuator

Bottom line, you need to have the problem diagnosed by a qualified mechanic, and one experienced with complex diagnoses.  This one may take time to figure out, especially if the check engine light is not on and/or if the computer does not have any active codes related to the problem that the mechanic can scan and read.  The mechanic will need to recreate the problem by driving the car, then go through a series of tests to figure out which system/parts are the problem.  Unfortunately, the cost of the diagnosis and repairs could easily exceed the value of the 2005 Neon.

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