My Car Shuts Off When Put in Gear

March 8, 2024

Having your car shut off when put in gear is certainly one of the most frustrating things that can happen to any driver. It is also dangerous since it can leave you stranded in traffic. It is therefore important to fix this issue as soon as possible before it becomes too severe and potentially deadly.

The car starts and runs fine when it is parked or in neutral but as soon as it is put in gear the engine sputters, then dies. I have replaced the idle air control valve and checked the fuel pump but it continues to stall when put in gear. It also jerks when changing gear which suggests a problem with the transmission.

The most likely cause of this issue is a bad torque converter solenoid that stays stuck on. The computer controls this solenoid to allow or deny air flow into the engine based on the load it is under and when you shift gears this puts additional mechanical load on the engine which can overwhelm it. The computer is then forced to increase the amount of fuel being injected into the combustion process and this over richness can eventually stall the engine.

Other potential causes are a clogged air filter, faulty idle control valve or vacuum leaks. The latter could be due to a defective throttle position sensor, a loose gas cap or a vacuum hose that is disconnected from the throttle body.

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