Car Stalls in reverse? 9 Reasons and solutions to fix it!

Ford F150 hard to start when hot
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People often face the issue of the car not getting started especially in cold weather conditions. But it is quite confusing when the car stalls in reverse condition but not in drive condition.

Nothing can be more annoying than the seemingly erratic behavior of the car when you don’t understand what is happening inside the car’s engine or transmission.

To resolve this problem, any mechanic or professional at the dealer end would suggest simulating the exact operating conditions to diagnose the issue properly.

A lot of time it ends up difficult to replicate the issue to analyze the problem to find the root cause. So all the efforts end in vain.

If the car stalls in reverse then you need to look into issues like a clogged transmission fluid line, bad fuel filter, faulty fuel pump, clogged fuel injectors, faulty idle control valve, bad TPS sensor, faulty O2 sensors, or a bad earthing connections

If your car stalls in reverse and looking for ways to get rid of this problem. Then you are at the right place. Stay tuned!

Here, in this article, we will discuss everything you need to know to fix the problem.

Car Stalls in reverse? 9 Reasons and solutions to fix it!

When faced with the problem of the car stalling in reverse condition, people often resort to first putting the car in drive mode before shifting it to reverse mode.

But this is quite a task to put the car every time in other modes before shifting it to reverse. You may even get confused about whether the car is in the mode that is desired or not!

In reverse condition, your car needs more torque and hence the gear ratio of the car would be maximum in reverse gear.

For every 3.5 rotations (approx.) of the transmission’s output shaft, the vehicle wheel would rotate once when the car is engaged in the reverse drive. Hence more fuel will be required in reverse gear.

When a car stalls in reverse, it means there could be an issue in one of the powertrain systems like air intake, fuel delivery, and ignition system that keeps the wheel of your car rolling.

A random stall while in reverse doesn’t essentially mean that there is a problem with the car.

Here, I am assuming that the driver is well trained to drive the car since wrong gear selection and failure to press the clutch or quickly depressing the clutch would also lead to the car getting stalled in reverse.

But if the instances of the issue are getting repeated, then it is time to diagnose the reasons for the car getting stalled in the reverse mode. Below are the reasons and solutions to fix it!

Clogged transmission fluid line

Are you thinking that the problem is anything to do with the car transmission, since the car stalls in reverse? Yes, it can be.

The car getting stalled in reverse is normally caused by either a blocked transmission cooler circuit or bad transmission fluid.

In the case of an automatic transmission, instead of a mechanical clutch, a type of fluid coupling known as a torque converter is used to serve the purpose of what a clutch does in a manual transmission.

Also when you don’t use your car for extended periods, the clearance between the input and stator shafts causes the draining of oil from the torque converters.

During a cold start when the torque converter gets filled with oil, the air gets trapped inside the torque converter and locks up the system which causes the car to stall in reverse.

It is recommended to reinstate the transmission fluid circuit to the original condition by replacing the clogged cooler line or replacing the transmission fluid with a fresh one to get rid of the annoying problem.

Bad fuel filter

The fuel filter is one of the key maintenance items when it comes to ensuring the effective functioning of the fuel delivery system.

If the fuel filter gets clogged by foreign dust matters, then it would reduce the fuel pressure and the fuel flow rate across it leading to the car stalling issues in reverse.

Have you replaced the fuel filter during your last car maintenance? If not, it is time to replace the fuel filter with a new one as per the manufacturer’s guidelines. It is the cheapest thing to do to fix the problem.

Article you may like to read “Car Won’t Start After Replacing Fuel Filter? 10 Causes And Solutions To Fix It!

Faulty fuel pump

Have you checked the condition of the fuel pump? Is it discharging the fuel at the right pressure?

If the car stalls in reverse, then probably your fuel pump is going bad and not delivering fuel as expected.

When the in-tank fuel pump’s strainer gets clogged, it either won’t allow fuel to pass across it or ends up dislodging the fuel into the fuel pump thereby damaging the impeller blades of the fuel pump leading to insufficient fuel pressure and discharge and hence the car stalls in reverse unless it is replaced with a new fuel pump.

Article you may like to read “Car Won’t Start After Fuel Pump Replacement? All You Need To Know!

Clogged fuel injectors

The fuel injectors come at the receiving end of the fuel system circuit. After the clogged fuel pump strainer and the fuel filter, it is the fuel injector that gets affected because of the foreign matters. 

The clogged fuel injector won’t atomize the gas effectively and instead would just dribble inside the piston cylinders and causes an improper mixture of air and fuel which causes the car to stall in reverse.

So, it is essential to clean the fuel injectors with a cleaner to get away with this problem or replace the fuel injectors with a new one.

Malfunctioning ignition system

The ignition system as we know gives the high-energy spark required to ignite the air-fuel mixture for the combustion process.

If your car’s engine misfires and hesitates lately before causing this stalling problem? If the answer is yes, then you have all reasons to diagnose the ignition system.

But if one of the parts like the spark plug or ignition coil pack or the coil pug wires goes bad then it would affect the combustion process negatively causing the car to stall when put in reverse mode.

You need to inspect the car for the malfunctioning ignition system and replace the faulty spark plug, ignition coil pack, or coil plug wires as deemed appropriate.

Faulty idle control valve

The IACV (idle air control valve) is a tiny valve usually operated by a stepper motor that is controlled by the vehicle ECM (Electronic control module).

This IACV helps in maintaining the idle engine speed by bypassing the throttle butterfly valve to control the airflow.

But due to the location of IACV, the dust, dirt, or oily substances get accumulated inside the IACV which hinders the valve from smoothly controlling the airflow and causes the car to stall in reverse.

Hence it is necessary to clean the IACV with a spray cleaner to get rid of the sticky matters on it or you may need to replace the IACV with a new one.

It is advised not to touch the adjusting screws on the IACV otherwise you would change the air-fuel ratio.

Bad TPS sensor

If the car stalls in reverse, you may need to check the TPS (throttle position sensor) to confirm whether it is performing as intended.

The TPS is a device located on the throttle body to sense the throttling input coming from the car driver and send this feedback to the vehicle ECM to adjust the air-fuel mixture depending upon the driver input to reduce or increase the speed of your car.

In case of the engine idle or starting condition, if the TPS goes bad, it would send wrong data, as if you are giving throttle input to the ECM.

This causes the ECM not to activate the IACV which is needed in the case of idle condition and causes the car to stall in reverse unless the bad TPS sensor is replaced with a new one.

Faulty O2 sensors

The O2 sensors are the one that senses the oxygen in the exhaust gases and give feedback to the ECM whether the engine is running rich or lean.

But if the O2 sensors are found to be faulty then it would cause the ECM to wrongly interpret the air-fuel ratio of the fuel getting burnt in the combustion chamber and this would stall your car in reverse unless the faulty O2 sensors are replaced with a new one.

You may try cleaning the oxygen sensor with cleaners and confirm if it helps to fix the issue. 

Bad earthing connections

The corrosion of the terminals may cause poor earth connection at various points of the vehicle and causes various trouble codes preventing the car from starting and even if it starts the car would stall after a while.

Check your car for poor earth connection either on the transmission housing or between the earth lead and chassis earth point and clean the earth points if required and erase the trouble codes.

Final Thoughts

If the car stalls in reverse, it is necessary to diagnose the systems which are responsible to keep the wheels rolling like an air intake, fuel, and the spark or transmission system.

If you genuinely follow the above diagnostic approach one after the other, it would help in finding the source of the problem.

If your vehicle is enabled with the OBD tool, then you may use an OBD scanner to check the car trouble codes which may indicate possible problems in air, fuel, or ignition system or even the transmission shift solenoid.

Instead of checking the various systems one after the other, the OBD feature saves a lot of effort and time to pinpoint the source of the issue.

Happy Motoring!




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