When a car suddenly stalls while driving, this can easily startle the driver and potentially cause an accident. “Stalling” refers to the engine of a vehicle suddenly stopping while the vehicle is in motion. Various mechanical issues can cause a car’s engine to stall, and it is not always immediately apparent exactly why a vehicle stalled. If you are driving on the highway at moderately high speeds and your vehicle stalls, this can be a terrifying experience. It’s vital to have an idea of what you can do to minimize your risk of having an accident in this situation and reducing the total damage to you and your car.

Proper action after a vehicle stalls can potentially mean the difference between safely moving your vehicle off the road or another vehicle crashing into you. If your vehicle stalls and an accident occurs, you may not be liable for the incident. However, if you fail to take appropriate and reasonable action, or if you fail to address a known mechanical issue with your vehicle, you will likely absorb some fault for an accident that occurs immediately following your vehicle stalling.

What to do if your car stalls on the highway

How Do Vehicles Stall?

Stalling most often occurs because of a problem with the air to fuel ratio inside of the vehicle’s engine. Leaky air intake tubes, a dirty air filter, or various other airflow issues can potentially disrupt the air to fuel ratio and cause the vehicle’s engine to stall. It’s also possible for a spark or other electrical issue, such as a problem with the ignition or charging systems of the vehicle, to cause a stall.

Many of the mechanical issues that cause stalling show early warning signs before stalling occurs. If you notice any performance issues with your vehicle that you do not know how to safely handle on your own, you should take your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible. If your car has performance trouble and you do not address it before a mechanical failure causes an accident, you will likely be liable for any resulting damages since you did not address the issue when it became apparent.

What to Do When Your Vehicle Stalls on the Highway

A vehicle stalling on any street can be scary, but the immediate danger is much greater on a highway where traffic could be moving at high speed around your vehicle. A few basic tips can potentially help you avoid a crash and minimize damage to your vehicle:

  • When your car stalls, you will have a few seconds before the engine shuts down completely and you cannot control the vehicle. Quickly but carefully move to the right as far as possible, ideally onto the shoulder if it is safe to do so.
  • Engage your vehicle’s hazard lights to warn drivers behind you that you are having problems with your vehicle.
  • Once your vehicle is stopped, make sure your hazard lights remain engaged.
  • If you are able to reach the side of the road, only leave your vehicle through the passenger door. Do not step out of your driver door or open the driver door into passing traffic. If your vehicle is stuck in the middle of the highway, do not leave your vehicle.
  • Call for help as soon as possible. If your vehicle is stuck in the middle of the highway you should call 911 so first responders can help you get out of the way of passing traffic as quickly as possible. If you’re able to move out of active traffic, call a towing service.
  • If you successfully pull your vehicle onto the shoulder, do not attempt to fix the problem with your engine unless you know what you are doing.

Hopefully, these tips can help you avoid experiencing an accident after your vehicle stalls on the highway. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict how other drivers will react to your vehicle stalling or whether passing drivers are paying attention to their surroundings. If an accident occurs after your vehicle has stalled on the highway, it’s likely that you will need to consult an attorney to determine the best way to recover your damages.

FAQs

Q: What Happens When a Car Stalls While Moving?
A:
You only have a few seconds once the engine stalls to move your car and safely navigate your vehicle to the right side of the road and out of the way of passing traffic. When a car’s engine stalls, the vehicle will need to be restarted for it to move again. However, depending on the nature of the issue that caused the vehicle to stall, the vehicle may first require maintenance, leaving the vehicle immobilized in the meantime.

Q: Can I File an Insurance Claim If My Car Stalls on the Highway?
A:
The first step toward recovering your losses from any accident in California is typically an insurance claim. Succeeding with an auto insurance claim is more likely when you have an experienced lawyer assisting you with your interactions with the insurance company. Your attorney can draft a demand letter to the insurer for coverage, correspond with insurance company representatives on your behalf, and carefully review the policy in question to ensure you receive appropriate coverage for your losses.

Q: Can I File a Lawsuit if My Car Stalls While Driving?
A:
If you need to take further legal action beyond insurance, an attorney can help you compile your case against the party or parties responsible for your accident. Your attorney will need to help you prove that your vehicle stalling was not your fault, and that you had no way of noticing the issue that caused your vehicle to stall. If you have any concerns about bearing comparative negligence for the incident, your attorney can help you address these matters.

Q: Who Is Responsible for Fixing My Car After it Stalls?
A:
Your auto insurance policy may cover the cost of repairing your vehicle. If you do not have insurance or your policy does not cover this type of repair, you will need to pay for the repairs yourself. If another driver hit you after your vehicle stalled, they would be liable for the damages they caused to your vehicle, but they would not be responsible for paying for the issue that caused your vehicle to stall.

Navigating complex car accident cases is much easier when you have legal counsel you can trust. Contact Easton & Easton today to schedule a consultation with our team if you believe you have grounds for legal action after an accident in southern California.