It is commonly applied to the phenomenon whereby an engine abruptly ceases operating and stops turning. It might be due to not getting enough air, energy, fuel, or electric spark, fuel starvation, a mechanical failure, or in response to a sudden increase in engine load. This increase in engine load is common in vehicles with a manual transmission when the clutch is released too suddenly.
The ways in which a car can stall is usually down to the driver, especially on manual transmission. For instance if a driver takes their foot off the clutch too quickly while stationary then the car will stall; taking the foot off the clutch slowly will stop this from happening. Stalling also happens when the driver forgets to depress the clutch and/or change to neutral while coming to a stop. Stalling can be dangerous, especially in heavy traffic.
A car fitted with an automatic transmission could also have its engine stalled when the vehicle is travelling in the opposite direction to the selected gear. For example, if the selector is in the 'D' position and the car is moving backwards, (on a steep enough hill to overcome the torque from the torque converter) the engine will stall, due to the fact that the engine is forced to turn in the opposite direction to what it is actually doing. This is because, hypothetically, if the car is rolling backward fast enough, the force from the rotating wheels will be transmitted backward through the transmission and act as a sudden load on the engine.
- Schultz, Mort (1979), Linkletter, John A.; Nelson, Robin C.; Maher, Arthur J., eds., "How to stop stalling", Popular Mechanics, New York: Hearst, no. March 1979, ISSN 0032-4558, OCLC 3643271, retrieved 13 November 2014
- Hillier, Victor A. W. (1990), Fundamentals of Motor Vehicle Technology (4 ed.), Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes, ISBN 9780748705313, OCLC 46761850, retrieved 13 November 2014
- Wardlaw, Christian (11 August 2014), Get the most out of your car: How to drive a manual transmission, NY Daily News, archived from the original on 13 August 2014, retrieved 14 November 2014
- Roth, Dan (20 August 2009), What Would Happen If You Put Your Car In Reverse While Driving?, AOL, archived from the original on 26 August 2014, retrieved 14 November 2014
- Hatch, Steve V (2012), Computerized engine controls (9 ed.), Clifton Park: Delmar, Cengage Learning, ISBN 9781111134907, OCLC 676729348, retrieved 13 November 2014
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