What Do You Do If Your Car Dies On The Road?

In the usual, everyday scenario, driving is an effortless task. You probably don’t even put your mind to it. You enjoy the road, the scenery, the music playing on the radio. But suddenly, your car splutters and your engine dies. Questions fill up your mind quickly: What do I do? What could be the problem? If my car doesn’t start how do I get home?



The most important thing is to stay calm and think clearly. Armed with the information in this article you will be able to bring your car safely to a stop, check for the main causes of the problem, and maybe even start your car back up!

How Do I Stop My Car Safely?

1. Look for an opportunity

Ok first things first: Take a deep breath and don’t panic. Although your car is no longer running, the steering and brakes should still work fine for a while. Closely watch your mirrors and blind spots to avoid traffic while you guide your car to, preferably, the outer shoulder of the road.

2. Do not swerve across lanes

If you are in the inner lane do not try and pass all the lanes too quickly! This is extremely risky. Check for a broad enough shoulder in the centre, if there isn’t one try your best to slowly make your way to the outside shoulder.


3. Do not leave your car

If your car does stop in the middle of the highway, do not get out! Chances are you will get hit. Try to indicate that you are in distress.

4. Don’t forget the emergency brake

If your brakes and steering start freeze up try and wait till the car slows down enough and use the hand brake. Make sure that you stop out of the way of passing cars.

5. Try to restart your car

Try to restart your car. Remove the keys from the ignition and give the car a few seconds of rest in between. Do not pump the petrol too much to avoid flooding the engine. If you are lucky your car will start back up!If not switch on your hazards and place your emergency triangle behind the car. This way people will know you are in distress and it will make your car much more visible.

Warning sign, Red warning sign

Common Causes Why A Car Might Die While Driving And How To Solve Them

It is good practice to always have some basic tools in your car:

#1. No fuel

Yes, we know this is an obvious one. Almost all of us forget to check if there is enough fuel in our car at some point. Check the gauge. Fuel gauges aren’t always accurate so if it’s close to empty you are most likely out of fuel.

How to solve

The easiest way is if you know someone close by. Call and ask them to bring you at least 5L of fuel. This should be enough to get you to the nearest station. If you have car insurance with roadside assist they can also help you. Call them and enquire.You can also use starting fluid or any alternate fuel to start the engine by wetting the air filter with it. Try to use up the last bit of petrol in your tank to get to a fuel station.


#2. A dead battery

This is one of the most common reasons for cars to stall. All batteries have a lifetime and once they start to go bad it is only a matter of time before they leave you stranded. Try and start the car, check if it cranks (makes a rustling noise), but doesn’t start. Don’t call for a battery just yet, it might be your alternator or starter.You can also try to switch on the lights or wipers, if they don’t work it’s definitely a dead battery. You can also replace a dead battery yourself if you have a spare battery or can have one brought to you.

How to solve

If someone stops to help or a friend comes to your aid try to jump- or push start the car. Here are two great videos to help you:

How To Jump Start A Car:

How To Push Start A Car:

If this isn’t an option you will either need to have your car towed to a battery centre or have a new battery brought to you. Only take this step if you KNOW it’s your battery.

You should keep a jumper cable in your car for situations like this. Here is one on Amazon.

You can also buy a starting battery like this.

#3. Your alternator is not working

If your alternator doesn’t work the car runs the batteries power dry. To confirm whether it is your alternator and not your battery:

  • Switch on the lights ask someone to look at them. If they change when you press or release the accelerator the alternator is most likely faulty.
  • If you manage to start the car try and remove the negative cable (black) from the battery. The alternator is faulty if the car dies again.
Selective focus an auto mechanic uses a multimeter voltmeter to check the voltage level in a car battery.

How to solve

Since your car has stalled out, most likely your battery is too dead to drive further. You will need to call roadside assistance and take your car to a service centre.

It might be possible for your car's power supply to last long enough if you switch off all electricity consuming appliances, like lights and radio.

Don’t Be Scared Of Calling The Pro’s!

The following problems are almost impossible to check and fix yourself, but are also common reasons your car dies. If you could not get your car going by following the instructions above now is the time to call a professional!

the woman pull the broken car

​Malfunctioning fuel pump

The result of this is that the engine does not receive enough fuel to keep running. It has many causes: blown fuse, blocked filter or bad wires.

​Ignition switch does not work

This can be caused by the usual wear and tear of the ignition switch over time. Symptoms are very similar to a dead battery.

​Malfunctioning car sensors

Many new cars have dozens of sensors the owner is not even aware of while driving. If any of these stop working properly it could make your car stop as a preventative measure.

Tow Your Car

As a final resort you can tow your car back to your home, or to the nearest service station. If you are not comfortable and do not have experience working on a car either call for a towing service or tow the car yourself.

Mechanic pulling the car

Your car should come with a towing cable, if you don’t have it buy one now!

In Conclusion

  • Always keep your car serviced according to your service schedule.
  • Make sure you have all the recommended tools mentioned above in case of emergency.
  • Always keep your car insurance or nearest service stations contact details on your phone.
  • Don’t forget to check your fuel levels while driving.
  • If your car stalls while driving, stay calm and try to safely get your car off the road.
  • Try and start your car. If your car does not start:
  • Make it visible (switch on hazards, deploy emergency triangle)
  • Check for the cause, if you cannot fix it yourself call for a tow.

A car dying in the middle of the road might be embarrassing, but it is not the end of the world. There is always a way to solve your problem no matter what it is.

If you want to share any similar experience you had in the past or have even more tips for fellow drivers please comment them below.


Hi there! I’m Jordan, chief editor of Crush the Road and I’m a self-confessed automative fanatic. Cars or vehicles has always been a passion of mine and will always be my favorite pastime. Now that I am married and has one adorable son, I have the time to write and share my personal experiences with other automative enthusiasts like me. Welcome to my fantastic blog!

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