Truck Starts Then Dies? Here’s What To Do.

Truck Starts Then Dies? Here’s What To Do.

Truck starts then dies? That can be an annoying problem, especially if you’re in a hurry to go somewhere.

If your truck starts then dies, there is a problem with your combustion process. This is the main reason why that would happen. You can easily remedy this by correcting the fuel to air ratio or installing new spark plugs.

This is the most basic way to deal with your vehicle if your truck starts then dies.

Although, the most sensible thing to do is have your truck checked for any underlying problems that may remain hidden from the surface.

And, it’s no secret that preventive maintenance is the best way to ensure your truck’s longevity in the long run.

Still, the above-mentioned solutions are only the tip of the iceberg.

So, let’s tackle those.

Some Conditions To Consider/Questions To Ask

Engine Starts But Immediately Dies

There’s a difference if your truck starts then dies than if your truck simply refuses to start at all. If your “check engine” light is on, connecting a code reader can help you narrow the potential issues down. You can also get a certified mechanic to do this for you.

Ignition Coil Issue

Are the connections tight? Do you have a sufficient spark? Are the wires in good condition?

·         Insufficient Fuel Supply

Do you have any fuel in your truck? Do you have any fuel pressure? Is the fuel pump, fuel regulator, and fuel injector working properly?

·         Erratic Idle

Is there a vacuum leak? Is there too much air in the mix? Are the gaskets in between the throttle body and intake manifold in good condition? What about the gaskets between the manifold and the engine block? Have you checked to see if there are any signs of cracking?

·         Air Flow/Backpressure Problems

Is the air filter in good condition? Are there any dents and dings present on the exhaust manifolds? Is there a plugged in catalytic converter?

Engine Stalls While Driving

Engine stalling can happen even if you’re already in motion. This can be particularly annoying if you’re on the freeway with no repair shop in sight. If your engine stalls while driving:

·         Stalling During Hard Acceleration

Do you have low fuel pressure? Do you have a faulty EGR valve?

·         Stalling While Turning

Is the IAC (Idle Air Control) failing? Does it need cleaning? Are the vacuum lines and hoses in good condition?

·         RPM Stumbles

Do you have irregular RPMs before the engine stalls? Is the TPS suspect?

·         Engine Dies When You Come To A Stop

Have you checked the transmission? Is the torque converter locking? Have you tried swapping the solenoids out for newer ones?

Here’s How Your Truck Basically Works:

Providing you have a perfectly operable truck, this is how your vehicle works. It is highly dependent on your electrical system.

First, you put in the key to activate the ignition process. Your battery then sends an electrical charge to your starter. Your starter turns the engine over.

Conventional Car Battery

Once the engine is running, a constant supply of gas, and a consistent spark keeps the fuel igniting.

Without any of these components available, your truck won’t run. Incorrect supply of any of these components will also affect the way your engine runs.

On-board computers can correct this to a certain degree in modern cars. Older vehicles without the electronic chip can still be diagnosed and corrected by a qualified technician.

Reasons Why Trucks Die

There are many reasons why your truck starts then dies. You can’t just blame it on one thing. Oftentimes, truck engines die because of a combination of issues that were left unattended. Here are some examples:

MAS-sive Failure

The MAS or the Mass Airflow Sensor measures the amount of air entering the engine. This information is then relayed to the vehicle’s computer to adjust the amount of fuel coming from the fuel injectors.

If the MAS fails, the engine gets too much or too little fuel. This can explain why your engine stalls right after it starts up.

Faulty Fuel Pump Relay

The fuel pump relay engages the fuel pump when you start the engine. It acts like a fuse for the electric fuel pump. Once the vehicle is running, the fuel pump relay turns off and the oil pressure sending unit takes over.

Truck Repair

Without the fuel pump relay, or if it is unable to run consistently throughout the starting process, your truck could stall right after you start it.

Failure To Ignite

An ignition coil provides over a thousand volts to create a spark in the spark plugs. The battery supplies it with a low voltage that is then amplified a thousand times over.

Failure to ignite or provide a consistent spark to the spark plugs can lead to engine stalling.

Anti-Theft Device Is Activated

Most trucks are equipped with security devices, from car alarms to GPS tracking devices. More advanced ones have an Anti-theft device installed. This device kills the engine when it senses that the owner or key fob isn’t in close proximity.

Leaky Fuel Pump

A leaky fuel pump creates problems for the internal combustion process. You need the right amount of air and fuel mixture for the ignition process. Too little fuel, and you won’t be able to maintain a spark going. Too much, and you’ll drown the spark.

Truck Repair

Your truck may still start but, without the right amount of fuel delivered at all times, it will eventually die.

Big Bad Carburetor

Carburetors adjust the air to fuel ratio in your engine. Carburetor malfunction throws this ratio off, causing an imbalance in the amount of air to fuel delivery.

Insensitive Fuel Injector Sensor

The fuel injector sends the right amount of fuel to the internal combustion chamber. It does this by receiving a certain amount of pressure. This pressure is measured by the fuel injector sensor.

The ECU facilitates everything from the fuel pump to the fuel injector. The fuel injector sensor receives all the communications from the ECU to function properly.

If there is a problem with the Fuel Injector Sensor, the correct pressure won’t be delivered and cause your engine to sputter and die.

Here’s How Vital The Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) Is

The TPS uses a variable resistor with multiple contact points that eventually wear out over time. When this happens, the air to fuel ratio could prove lean, resulting in a DTC (Diagnostic Trouble Code) warning. The TPS basically monitors the angle of the throttle valve opening and sends collected information to the ECU.

This is why it is vital to keep the TPS in good condition.

Oh I See, It’s The IAC

A blocked IAC (Idle Air Control) valve will cause an engine to die if it remains closed. This is because there is no air going into the mix. The culprit: carbon deposits. Clean the IAC out, and you’ll have a car that idles better and generally drives more consistently.

ECT Keeps Your Car Cool In The City

The ECT (Engine Coolant Temperature) measures the operating temperature of the engine. It then sends this information to the ECU. The truck’s computer uses this data, along with info from the other sensors, to adjust the ignition timing leading to better engine efficiency.

Pouring Coolant Into The System

A bad ECT leads to lean air to fuel mixture. That results in bad idling and stalling during operation.

Stuck EGR Valve

The EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) Valve has to open and close at the right time. It basically reintroduces exhaust gases into the combustion chambers to, one, reduce the overall engine temperature, and two, reduce poisonous emissions.

Excessive carbon buildup can prevent this from happening, causing the engine to stall at idle.

Catalytic Converter Cries Wolf

One of the main reasons why the Check Engine Light goes off is a perceived issue with the Catalytic Converter. Check to see if this is not a false error message before replacing an otherwise perfectly operable Catalytic Converter.

Engine Control Unit Issue

The ECU is attributed as one of the main issues that causevehicular problems. It is susceptible to glitches and errors. The bad thing is, the ECU manages all of the electronic components and sensors of modern vehicles.

If you have a bad ECU, you’re bound to encounter problems with your vehicle. This is one of the main reasons why a truck starts then dies.

Don’t Know What To Do? Get An Expert

Modern vehicles are more complicated these days to troubleshoot because of the vast array of electrical components and sensors installed. In fact, doing DIY repairs could lead to your warranty getting voided by the manufacturers.

An Expert Fixing An Engine

This is especially true if the repairs needed involve the ECU, sensitive electrical components, and fragile sensors.

Don’t risk losing your truck’s warranty just to save a few bucks. Better yet, get some formal training and get certified so you can perform the right type of repair without adding to the damages incurred.

A good mechanic will have the right tools with him to diagnose your problem, provide a solution, and a quotation for the total amount needed for the repairs.


A good mechanic will have a code reader/scanner to plug into your truck’s computer and find out more about your issues.

Physical Prognosis

Once your mechanic has that information, he’ll do a physical check of all the components involved in the issue. Through this process, he’ll be able to discover the nature of the failure and repair/replace the faulty/damaged component.

Quotations And Additional Questions

After the initial diagnosis process is done, you will receive a quotation for the total price associated with the repairs and replacements.  At this point, you can ask your mechanic for alternative solutions, cheaper parts available, basic preventive maintenance tips, and others.

Take advantage of the opportunity to get your money’s worth and to acquire new knowledge.

If you’re confident enough, you can go the DIY route afterwards for the same type of repair.

Related Questions:

What Type Of Battery Is Best For My Truck?


Trucks need large, powerful batteries to store energy and send electricity to the ignition coil. It also has to be robust enough to handle the constant jostling it will be subjected to during normal operation. A heavy-duty, maintenance-free truck battery is highly advised for truck owners to get.

My Truck Dies When Starting In The Morning. Help?

Hard starting in the morning is pretty common for diesel engine trucks. Check the viscosity of your engine oil or change it to an all-season oil to remedy this situation. Check the fuel to air ratio. Trucks that sit for too long and subjected to excessive humidity can collect water in the gas tanks.

My Truck Dies When Put In Gear. What’s Wrong?

If you drive a stick-shift, disengaging the clutch too early is one of the obvious reasons why. You might have a damaged clutch plate, and clutch master too. For an automatic truck, there might be an issue with your transmission. Ease off the clutch slowly and wait and listen for the gear to engage.

In Conclusion:

If your truck starts then dies, it’s time to get it checked. 

What could seem like a simple problem could have more underlying issues brought about by the lack of preventive maintenance or system degradation. Factory defects, parts breaking down over time, equipment half-life expiration, and other external factors can lead to a truck that starts then dies. 

Getting professional help allows certified technicians to diagnose your problem properly. They also have the right tools to conduct a thorough diagnostic scan on your truck.

If you’re going the DIY route, it’s best to get certified. Enroll in an automotive repair course and ensure that they have a thorough curriculum covering electronics as well as mechanical repair.

Only when you have proof in your hands that you can handle instances where your truck starts then dies should you put on the work gloves and get the elbow grease out.

But most important of all, don’t risk your warranty in an effort to save money. Ignoring your problem today could lead to more tomorrow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *