Car Sputtering Problem | Causes and Fixes

Regardless of the size and type, all cars use some fuel to run smoothly. Every engine system requires a sufficient level of fuel or gas to work efficiently. Massive increases or decreases in fuel levels can cause troubles such as the sputtering engine. It’s not a sign of danger, but ignoring it and continuing to drive can cost you massive disruptions.

You must have observed your car sputtering, especially when you forget to refill its gas. It’s not hard to tell if your car is sputtering or not. You can easily guess it by checking the vehicle engine. However, sometimes you may observe your car sputtering even when there is no need to refill it with gas or any other fuel it’s using.

You need to fix the engine sputtering immediately so it cannot ruin your beautiful journeys. However, you cannot just jump toward fixes without knowing “Why is the car sputtering?” You need to figure out the signs and reasons for it. Don’t worry! You don’t have to search for them, we are here to guide you in this regard. Let’s move forward.

Signs of Car Sputtering:

It’s not difficult to tell if your vehicle is sputtering or not. There are some simple signs you can focus on and find it. These signs are very clear and can be guessed from the beginning. The following are the most common signs of it.

  • You can hear the sound of soft or incomplete combustion. The sound is more clear when you start your car’s engine. These sounds are different from typical engine sounds.
  • You may observe difficulty while driving. When the car struggles to accelerate and shakes during driving it means its engine is sputtering.
  • You can observe shaking and weird noises when idling a car at lower than normal idling rpm. This too is due to sputtering.

Why is Car Sputtering – Know All Possible Reasons

Knowing the causes of any problem is required to fix it. Sometimes only avoiding causes can lead to the solution of the problem and inhibit its comeback in the near future. The following are the key causes of engine sputtering. Let’s have a look at them.

Low Gas Level

It is one of the most common causes of car sputtering. You must have heard the weird sound the vehicle makes when you start it without refilling its gas. However, sputtering due to this reason is not very alarming. It can simply get fixed soon after you drive your car to a gas station and refill it.

When your car's gas level gets too low, the fuel pump can begin to suck in air along with the remaining fuel, causing the engine to sputter or stall

Non-Functional Spark Plugs

Sputtering is mainly due to incomplete combustion of fuel in the car’s engine. Spark plugs are part of the engine that initiates the burning or combustion process and makes your vehicle drive smoothly. However, non-functional or defective plugs cannot produce enough spark to ignite the fuel. You can face the vehicle starting problem due to incomplete combustion of the engine’s fuel. You observe sputtering due to the same reason as well.

Car Spark Plug
Photo: Nazly Ahmed

Clogged Fuel Injectors

The fuel Injectors are used for the transport of gas to the engine. They maintain a steady flow according to acceleration. However, they can get dirty or clogged. It hinders the flow of gas into the combustion chamber. As a result, there is not enough gas in the chamber to drive your vehicle smoothly. Your car struggles to accelerate and eventually stops in such conditions.

Inactive Fuel Filters

Fuel filters are present in your car’s engine to filter out all the dust particles and other debris from your car’s fuel. However, when they get defective, they fail to do their job properly. As a result, it can get harder for the combustion chamber to burn this contaminated fuel. It results in soft combustion and your vehicle starts sputtering.

If the fuel filter becomes clogged or inactive, it can restrict the flow of fuel to the engine, resulting in a lean fuel mixture that can cause your car to sputter or even stall.

Damaged Gaskets Or Seals

Car engines and fuel systems have various gaskets or seals to control the air and fuel flow in the engine. These gaskets exit and open automatically to ensure a smooth and adequate fuel supply and other fluids to the car engine. When they start wearing, they begin leaking fuel which causes your engine to sputter.

Damaged gaskets need to be replaced immediately because they can damage other engine parts, which are quite expensive and hard to replace.

Head Gasket

Bad Gas

Bad gas in cars is one of the major causes. If you observe sputtering the most after gas refill, it means it’s due to the bad quality of the gas. Low-grade fuels don’t burn effectively in the vehicle. They fail to run the engine smoothly and you face a lot of sputtering. Try to find a reputable gas station that has high-quality gas for your vehicle.

If you observe sputtering the most after gas refill, it means it’s due to bad quality of gas.

Clogged Fuel Pump

It’s a crucial device in the car to transfer fuel from the fuel pan to the engine. It is responsible for controlling the fuel pressure to ensure smooth working of the engine. However, it sometimes gets clogged due to poor quality fuel or damaged fuel filters and fails to perform its function effectively.

Clogged fuel pumps cause the fuel pressure to fall below the optimum level, which results in the car sputtering at idle. By fixing a temporary pressure gauge on the fuel pressure rail, you can detect this problem. If the manual gauge shows very low fuel pressure, then something is surely wrong with your fuel pump, and you need to look into this problem more deeply to avoid more trouble.

Fuel pump is present in the car and is responsible for transporting gasoline or any other fuel to the engine.

Dirty Airflow Sensor

A balanced amount of air and fuel is crucial for the proper functioning of the combustion chamber. Almost all types, especially modern cars, have automatic systems to monitor this balance. It has an airflow sensor that ensures the entrance of the right amount of air to the fuel or combustion chamber.

When this sensor becomes clogged due to dust and fuel fumes, it starts providing incorrect figures. It results in excessive or too little fuel spray by the fuel control unit, which causes your car engine to sputter at idle.  You can easily clean these sensors and fix them again to ensure normal functioning.

Failed Catalytic Converter

Advanced cars are now coming with catalytic converters. These converters tend to change harmful combustion gases released from your car’s engine into less harmful ones. The main purpose is to avoid air pollution. However, it also impacts the overall health of automobiles. However, a damaged catalytic converter that is not doing its job perfectly can lead to sputtering. If your car is sputtering while driving then there are chances that it’s due to a failed catalytic converter.

catalytic converter
Photo: Mr ATM

Fixes For Car Sputtering:

Engine sputter can lead to several problems in your car. You need to fix it as soon as possible to avoid irreversible damage to the engine. The following are the most effective fixes.

Changing Gas Station

The first thing you can do is to change your gas station. If you observe sputtering after every refill, it means your vehicle is not receiving good fuel. Therefore, you need to change the gas station and choose a reliable one this time. Never opt for low-grade fuel to save a few bucks.

Replacing Fuel Filters

The next thing you have to do is to replace your car’s fuel filters. Replacing damaged fuel filters with new ones can solve the issue. Apart from that, it is effective against other relative issues as well. Most car acceleration problems can also get solved by just replacing the filters.

Replacing Fuel System Components

Car sputtering when driving can get fixed by using this method. Mostly it is due to the problems in the combustion system. You need to examine the combustion chamber closely and check if there is any default in it. It’s hard to fix the small parts of combustion engines. Therefore, the best way is to replace them with new ones that work decently and are more durable.

Checking For Electric Parts

Ignition plugs and ignition coils are the electric parts in your vehicle. They are responsible for starting the ignition. However, they may fail to conduct current from the battery upon starting the car and may not produce enough spark. It causes soft combustion and sputtering. Therefore, you need to check these parts after regular intervals and get them replaced in case of any damage.

Visit to Mechanic

It is probably the best solution to fix this. Mechanics are highly experienced and qualified to deal with all these problems. Engine sputtering during acceleration, at low rpm, or due to any other reason can be fixed by mechanics. Make sure to take your car for regular maintenance. It is the key to increasing its durability.


What is Sputtering in a Car?

Sputtering is usually a feeling of backfiring in your car’s engine. This is incomplete combustion that leads to weird sounds and doesn’t let your car run smoothly.

Why Does My Vehicle Sputter?

There are several reasons behind this. It may be due to low-grade fuels, damaged filters, non-functional sparking plugs, and several other reasons.

How Do I Fix My Car From Sputtering?

It depends on the causes of sputtering. It may simply mean you need to fill your gas tank or replace your fuel filters. However, it can also be a severe issue, such as gasket damage and bad airflow sensors. In this case, you must send your car to the service station for professional inspection and replacement of damaged parts.

Final Words

Sputtering is not just about some noises from the engine and vibrations during driving. It can lead to irreversible engine damage. So, try to get it fixed ASAP. Avoid reasons that cause engine sputtering. It’s time to get rid of backfiring noises and vibrations!

Last Updated on May 10, 2023 by admin

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