Why does a car to stall on the freeway?

Traffic is backed up, the radio person says there was a stall. The stopped car causes other cars to stop or merge around. What causes a stall? Failure to change oil?

Can I be mad at the driver since it’s their fault for not maintaining their car?

Honolulu is a very narrow town, with mountains on one side, ocean on the other. There’s one area where the Pearl Harbor hits the mountains (in Pearl City/Aiea). It creates a bottleneck between Honolulu and suburban leeward Oahu, and there is only 1 freeway and two surface routes through this. There always seems to be a stall here, never before or after where the freeways split so you have a choice!

Old oil is a very unlikely cause of of engine stoppage. Doesn’t take much to make an engine run, fuel, air, pressure and a spark but miss any one of those and it won’t run. Likely failures are electrical failures, particularly ignition, fuel system failures and overheating from cooling system failures such as blown hoses and belts.

Maybe they just ran out of gas.

Why does a chicken to cross the road?

I agree; gas is probably the usual reason. “Hmm…E…lemme just see if I can make it to the next ex…sputter sput sputttt…oh shit.”

Chill, Brudda.

You’re in Hawaii for gosh sakes. :smiley:

I’ve noticed a lot of older cars stalling in wet weather - presumably the moisture is getting at the electrics, especially the spark plug wires.

“Out of gas” happens a LOT also. More than people would care to admit.

Other fairly common causes I’ve run across are broken belts - especially cars with single serpentine belts. If that breaks, the car will often stall quickly as the alternator’s no longer running, and the water pump is also stopped, which will quickly lead to overheating.

The other day we were driving around in our decently-maintained car and the, um. . . ‘cable harness’ (I think) of a bunch of electric wires under the chassis sort of, well, caught fire. No warning. Things happen.

A “stalled car” is just a catchall phrase for any car stopped on the highway for a reason the radio station can’t immediately determine. It could be a maintenence issue, or it could be something like a broken timing belt or serpentine belt, something that often happens without warning. It could also be a flat tire; again, something the owner may not anticipate. It could be engine overheating. It could even be a collision of some sort – you lose control and bang into a retaining wall.

In any case, the traffic reporter isn’t going to try to determine the cause. The fact is, the car has stopped, andt that’s affecting traffic.

One of my friends stalled his car on the freeway. He never checked the oil and IIRC, the engine turned out to have an oil leak. The engine couldn’t have picked a worse place to seize up.

Since there isn’t a single answer to this discussion, I think it’s better suited to IMHO. So I moved it.

Perhaps RealityChuck nailed it best–the word “stalled” is a catchall.

samclem GQ moderator