How To Prevent A Car From Stalling

Last Updated: 10/04/2021

Every single person who has ever driven a car with manual transmission will have stalled it at some point and they’d be lying if they say otherwise!

Even experienced drivers may still occasionally stall due to a lack of concentration or for some other reason.

Despite how common stalling is, it can be very embarrassing and can knock your confidence while you’re learning to drive.

There can also be safety issues with stalling a car, for example, the momentary loss of control when the car cuts out.

Stalling can also be particularly common when you’re performing tricky manoeuvres, such as a hill start.

Situations like this are also more dangerous and a driver must be in control and quickly able to reply the handbrake or foot brake.

Therefore, when you’re taking your driving lessons, mastering how to prevent your car from stalling is one of the most important early techniques you should be looking to pick-up.

What You Will Learn

Say goodbye to those embarrassing and frustrating situations when you stall the car in a line of traffic.

Our guide is going to go walk you through how to prevent a car from stalling.

We’ll explain the science behind stalling – why does it happen?

Once you know why it’s happening, it may help you to identify and understand when it may be about to happen on the road.

We’ll also tell you expressly how to prevent stalling, including the tell-tale signs that you’re engine is about to stall.

By the end of this guide, you should be confident in climbing back in to the car and preventing it from stalling.

After all, it’s another core skill you’ll need to master when driving!

The guide is structured in the usual way, which is outlined as follows:

  • Step-By-Step Guide
  • Video Demonstration
  • Hints & Tips
  • Useful Information
  • Final Thoughts
  • Further Resources

Step-By-Step Guide

A car can still for a number of reasons, each of which can be easily prevented.

To make it easier to follow, we’ve broken our step-by-step guide down in to sections which explain how to prevent the car from stalling in each scenario.

Stopping Without The Clutch:

A car will stall if you attempt to stop it without using the clutch.

To prevent this from occurring, every time you stop the car, do the following:

  • Begin to slow the car down.
  • Roughly two car lengths away from the car in front, or the point at which you wish to stop, press the clutch in.
  • Once the car has stopped, apply the hand brake, put the car in to neutral and then you can release the clutch pedal.

Moving Off In The Wrong Gear:

When you move off from a stationery position in the wrong gear, the revs will dip very low and can cause the car to stall.

To prevent this, follow these steps:

  • Whenever you are moving off the spot, select first gear and operate the clutch as you have been taught to do. See our guide titled ‘How to Master the Bite’ in the ‘further resources’ section at the bottom of the page for more information.
  • Remember when coming to a stop when you may need to move off again, always ensure you place the gear lever back in to first gear.

Changing Up To The Wrong Gear:

When you’re new to driving, or perhaps you are driving a car you are not familiar with, it can be easy to select the wrong gear when you’re changing from one to the next.

If revs dip too low, this again will cause the engine to stall.

Here’s how to prevent it:

  • As you accelerate up, change in to a higher gear, usually the next one up (e.g. second to third).
  • If you select the wrong gear by accident, consult our guide about ‘How to Master Changing Gears/Clutch’. This will give you techniques to help with your gear change action and reduce the chances of you selecting the incorrect gear.

Video Demonstration

Hints & Tips

As ever, we’ve got a couple of little hints and tips to help prevent you from stalling your car.

Keeping The Biting Point For Longer:

Finding the biting point is a skill in itself but once you have done so and you move off, it’s worth keeping the clutch at this point for a couple of seconds longer until you’re comfortable that the car is moving and will not stall.

Don’t Panic:

Okay, what happens if you stall during your driving test?

Well, the first thing you should do is not panic.

The examiner will be watching to see how calm and in control of the situation you are.

Quickly regain your composure and smoothly move away again.

If you do it in a safe manner, that will definitely work in your favour.

Useful Information

To help make it easier to prevent the car from stalling, it’s useful to know why it happens.

For this, a very basic, low-level understanding of the clutch is needed.

Think of the clutch as being two metal plates.

When you fully depress the clutch pedal, these plates are separated.

This disengages the engine from the gearbox meaning you can change gears.

When you release the clutch pedal, the two plates come together and the engine engages in whichever gear it has been set to.

If you were to release the clutch too quickly, the plates come together hard and the car will stall.

So, soft and smooth gear changes and clutch action is what’s needed to help prevent the car from stalling.

Final Thoughts

If you stall when you’re on your driving test, there is no set action that covers all stalls in terms of whether you will fail or not.

If you stall while stationery at a red light, you may not even get a minor error mark, however, do so in the middle of a busy junction or roundabout and that could be a major which ultimately results in you failing your test.

It’s about the safety of yourself, your passengers and other road users, so always be vigilant and practice whenever possible.

Further Resources