The frustration that results from a car not starting after getting gas is something that people rarely experience. Filling up the gas tank and pulling out of a gas station immediately may cause the vehicle to stall, miss, or hesitate.
Starting a car after getting gas when the tank is full, and the fuel gauge is calibrated properly should not be a problem. But is there a reason your car stalls after you fill it up with gas?
The most common reason a car stalls after getting gas is when air, fuel, and spark aren’t delivered properly to the engine. Clogged air/fuel filters, leaking valves, or faulty ignition coils can cause this problem. In addition, some problems are caused by faulty wire connectors or components in the system.
This article can be helpful if you’ve already experienced such an incident and want to determine what caused your car to stall after getting gas and how to resolve it.
What Does It Mean When Your Car Stalls After Getting Gas?
All components that revolve around the ignition, fuel delivery, and compression must be in good working order for your engine to function properly.
An issue with one system in your vehicle can have a domino effect on others. Keeping your wheeler maintained and properly cared for is, therefore, crucial.
Common Reasons Car Struggles To Start After Putting Gas In
It is necessary for an engine to start and idle smoothly while warm by using a fairly rich fuel mixture. But, in the event that the vehicle shakes or sputters, what should you look out for? Here are some of the most common reasons why a car won’t start or stall after fueling up.
1. Wheel Lock
If you run out of gas and refill your car, a wheel lock may prevent the car from starting. This anti-theft feature pushes the steering wheel against the locking pawl when the key is removed.
You wouldn’t be able to turn the key and start the car if the lock position was selected. It is easy to disengage from this feature.
It is as simple as turning the key and nudging the wheel. In this step, the steering wheel will be removed from the locked position, allowing you to begin operating the wheeler.
2. Security System Malfunctions
In some vehicles, an engine immobilizer is included as part of their anti-theft security system. Your car’s fuel and ignition systems could be disabled erroneously if this system becomes faulty or its chip fails.
A security warning on your dashboard can offer guidance if you’re unsure how to handle the situation. In addition to giving you more specific trouble codes, a diagnostic scan can also tell you exactly what is wrong.
At this point, you may find it useful to check your owner’s manual. You cannot resolve security issues if your garage does not have the appropriate equipment. Consult your nearest dealer if you do not have one.
3. The Purge Control Valve Is Stuck
A purge valve reduces engine temperature and harmful emissions by recirculating exhaust gasses (also known as exhaust gas recirculation).
A valve like this prevents harmful fuel vapor from entering the intake manifold until it reaches the intake manifold to be burned. Unfortunately, the excess emissions build up inside the power mill when the valve gets stuck open, causing flooding before the engine starts.
Drivers must depress the gas pedal to open up the throttle body and bring in more air required for combustion when this occurs.
4. Timing Belt Jumped Or Skipped
Timing belts/chains sync rotation between camshafts and crankshafts. In addition to wearing out over time and due to excessive oil saturation, it may suffer from wear or damage after lots of mileage.
When the belt wears out, it can skip a cog or two, allowing air to leak, and ultimately resulting in poor or nonexistent combustion. Engine damage caused by a bad timing belt can result in the need to replace the entire power mill in the worst-case scenario.
5. Fuel Pump That Has Been Damaged
Your car cannot start without the appropriate fuel pressure, especially if it has a fuel-injected engine. The fuel pump ensures this. When the engine is running (including when the car is idling), it continuously transfers fuel from the tank to the combustion chamber.
The pump has a greater mileage than your car, and, as a result, is more likely to break down over time. Also, in the event that your fuel pump fails or gets damaged, your vehicle ends up with nothing to run on – so even if your gas tank is full, it will not start.
6. Filters And Injectors Restricted
When your car doesn’t start after getting gas, there are several ways to verify that it is this issue, all reliant on the symptoms it exhibits. First, check the other items on this list if your engine does not start.
You might not be getting fuel to the cylinders if your engine runs briefly and then dies. Many factors could cause this, including debris collected in the tank becoming engine sludge, preventing fuel pressure from building up.
Another factor that contributes to fuel filter clogging is running your vehicle to empty. Fuel delivery system components may need to be checked depending on how poorly your engine responds when the key is turned on.
7. Unresolved Trouble Codes
Modern cars have computers that control multiple sensors and actuators – one of which enables the vehicle to start (a.k.a. PCM, ECM, ECU, etc.).
This sensor can prevent the engine from starting if it receives false or insufficient input. Using an OBD-2 scanner, you can scan for trouble codes even without the check engine light on.
8. Key Fob Not Working
The convenience of proximity keys and starting devices has made it easier to start vehicles, but they are also one of the most common reasons why cars do not start after they are filled with gas.
Also, owners may find themselves in a bind when their key fobs fail unexpectedly or when they are in dire straits. It is very easy to replace the key fob battery. When it goes missing, finding it is a different story.
9. The Lack Of Spark
In your engine, the spark plug ignites the mixture of air and fuel. Your vehicle can become inoperable if it does not have a properly functioning spark plug or a properly timed spark.
It is important to note that bad spark plugs cause not all spark plug failures. There may also be problems with the ignition module, circuit, or switch as well as cracked porcelain insulators, worn electrodes, flooded engines, and malfunctioning ignition modules. In addition, plugs degrade over time.
10. There Is A Problem With The Starter Motor Or Circuit
The starter motor is responsible for physically turning over your engine and starting it. One of the easiest causes to detect from this list is problems with the starter motor, which can produce clicking sounds when the ignition is turned on.
Because the battery powers the starter motor to start the engine, it may give the impression that the battery is weak. If the starter does not turn altogether, there may be a malfunctioning relay, solenoid, or ignition switch.
11. Alternator Not Working
In most cases, when the battery checks out after testing, the alternator is the next suspect. However, as your battery is responsible for generating electricity and storing excess electrical power, it has a rightful reputation.
The next time you need your engine to start, your engine will fire right up. As well as powering your headlights, wipers, radio, and window defroster, it also helps heat the seats and run your heater. You can think of it as your vehicle’s charging system.
You shouldn’t jump to conclusions about a defective alternator based on a discharged battery. First, check for a worn or slipping accessory drive belt if your alternator is acting up and your battery is not getting charged.
12. A Battery That Is Dead Or Corroded
You may be dealing with a discharged or expired battery or loose/corroded battery terminals if your car doesn’t start right away after getting gas or cranks slowly.
The shelf life of a battery is easy to overlook, especially when purchasing a used vehicle. When a battery fails to hold a charge or starts having problems, owners only look at its usable life.
Battery drain occurs when the lights are left on for extended periods of time and when the battery is completely discharged. When the battery is empty, your engine will not be able to roll over, and your alternator will not be able to start charging.
Further, looking for another car on the side of the road to jump-start your vehicle can be a hassle. Battery life spans typically range from three to six years. You can rule out your battery as a possible cause of your car’s failure to start after getting gas by charging your battery and testing your alternator.
Car Struggles To Start After Putting Gas In – Other Things To Check
There is nothing fun about stalling problems. In addition to disrupting your travel, it also poses a safety risk. A car’s power steering will first stop if the engine stalls, followed by the power breaks if the engine stalls while driving. These other factors might also be worth considering.
Evaporative Control System
Raw fuel vapors that leak from any part of the fuel storage system will be captured, stored, and purified by the evaporative control (EVAP) system. Fuel tanks overfilled with gas, and EVAP lines flooded with gas cause problems.
The refuel valve triggers the gas pump to stop when defective, causing the car to stall when fuel is not flowing.
There are times when an ignition cylinder binds, preventing the engine from starting. Test the cylinder by removing it and seeing if it spins on its own to determine if this is the issue.
Swap it out if it doesn’t. Alternatively, you may have to replace both the steering column and the ignition cylinder. Make sure your vehicle’s security system is programmed with the new cylinder and keys.
In the event of a blown fuse or short circuit, circuitry such as fuel injection or the engine control module cannot function properly. Thus, your car cannot start due to these systems. When the car is shut off, you can immediately determine which fuses are damaged and must be replaced by inspecting their wiring.
It operates only when the engine is cold, as a regular injector with a Thermo switch and control module. In cold weather, your engine may not start if either the switch or the module circuit fails. You will need your service manual to fix issues with this injector.
Is Low Gasoline A Cause Of Stalling In A Car?
The car does not stall because of low gas but because of an empty tank. Therefore, your vehicle’s performance and drivability will be affected by low gasoline levels.
Is Bad Gasoline Capable Of Causing My Car To Stall?
Fuel pumps and fuel filters have to work harder due to the contaminants in bad gasoline when these components are clogged with excessive pollution, your vehicle stalls.
The Bottom Line
You should never repeatedly crank your engine in the hopes that it will start, no matter what type of troubleshooting you do. Perform a diagnostic scan instead of using the remaining charge in your battery to locate the fault.
Wait several minutes between repetitions to prevent your battery from being drained dry or the starter motor from being toast. The most important thing is to call for assistance.