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What can cause a car to not accelerate properly?

5 Reasons a Car Won’t Accelerate and Move But RPMs Go Up

Car Won’t Accelerate and Move But RPMs Go Up

If you step on the gas pedal and a car won’t accelerate, but the RPMs go up, there is an issue getting power to the drive-train.

The engine provides power which is then sent through the transmission and axles to the tires.

When there is an issue with one of the drive-train components, the RPMs will go up, but the car will not accelerate or move.

In some cases, the RPM of the car will go up quickly, but acceleration is very slow. The same causes and failures will also apply.

Why is My Car Not Accelerating When I Press the Gas Pedal?

Why is my Car Not Accelerating When I Press the Gas

If the engine is running and RPMs go up, but the car does not accelerate, there is a power train issue at some point after the engine.

Causes can include the low ATF fluid, failed transmission, bad clutch, and more.

Each component will need to be checked to find the source of the problem.

5 Causes and Fixes When a Car Won’t Accelerate and Move But RPMs Go Up

  1. Low on Transmission Fluid

Car Won’t Accelerate and Move But RPMs Go Up Low on Transmission Fluid

A common issue when the engine revs but the vehicle does not move is the transmission is low on fluid.

Check the transmission fluid level and be sure it is not low.

Almost all vehicles have a transmission dipstick that can be pulled out to check the fluid level.

Some vehicles can be checked while cold, and some need to be warmed up to get the correct level.

The dip stick will have markings that the fluid level needs to be at for the transmission to work properly.

Car Won’t Accelerate and Move But RPMs Go Up Failed Transmission

The transmission may have failed and needs to be repaired or replaced.

Other components should be checked first, such as fluid and the filter.

If the transmission fluid is very dark and not red, it may need to be changed along with a new filter.

Checking for any transmission error codes with an OBDII scan tool will show if there is a problem with the transmission.

Car Won’t Accelerate and Move But RPMs Go Up Failed Torque Converter

If the torque converter goes bad, it will fail to engage the transmission.

Usually, symptoms of a failing torque converter are noticeable before it malfunctions completely, such as shuddering, slipping, lag, or vibrating.

If your car has been experiencing those issues previously, then the torque converter may have failed.

While manual transmission is not common these days, some vehicles still have them.

If your car or truck has a manual transmission, the clutch may be worn and failing.

While rare, the ECM (Engine control module) may have failed.

Modern vehicles have an onboard computer called an ECM that controls the engine and drive-train.

The ECM receives information from sensors that also may have failed.

When a car’s RPMs go higher, but the car does not move or accelerate, there is an issue with getting the engine power to the tires.

An engine’s power is transferred to the tires through the transmission and axles.

An automatic transmission will often have an issue if it is low on ATF fluid. Check the ATF fluid level and be sure it is correct.

It can also have issues if the fluid is very dirty and possibly clogging up the filter.

The ATF fluid should be red to look at, and if very dark, it is very dirty needing to be changed out.

The torque converter may also have failed but usually will give other symptoms before failing completely.

If you have a manual transmission, the clutch may have gone bad and need to be replaced.

A sensor or the ECM could also have a problem and should be tested when all other things have been checked.

Have you had issues with a car that will not accelerate and move, but RPMs go up? Let us know your thoughts below.

Category: General Automotive Repair

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What can cause a car to not accelerate properly?

car feels sluggish when accelerating

Technician replacing a clogged air filter

Clogged air filters are the most common cause of why a car feels sluggish when accelerating as less air is passed through them. This impacts the performance of a car’s engine as dirty air filters increase fuel consumption. In the worst scenario, if the air filters are extremely clogged then it can also stall the engine.

Replacing a car air filter is an easy task and does not require any special skills. So this is the first thing to check when your car is not accelerating properly.

2. Dirty or Bad Mass Air Flow Sensor

Replacement of bad MAF by a technician

Mass air flow sensor, aka MAF sensor, is a key component of a fuel injection system. It is located between the air filter box and the throttle valve. MAF ensures that the right amount of fuel and air is mixed in the engine’s internal combustion chamber.

A MAF can get dirty or defective by wearing out over time. A bad mass air flow sensor can send incorrect data to the car’s internal system, therefore, the optimal amount of fuel entering the combustion system gets miscalculated.

Nonetheless, a dirty MAF can be cleaned with a sensor-specific cleaner, whereas, the defective one should get replaced immediately.

3. Faulty Oxygen Sensor

There are various types of oxygen sensors with a common function to regulate the air to fuel ratio by determining the amount of oxygen. If the sensor gets damaged, the engine is unable to maintain a healthy fuel and air ratio. This is another reason why a car feels sluggish when accelerating or the driver experiences irregular idling or complete loss of power.

Moreover, poor acceleration may also be experienced if the oxygen sensor is dirty. In such cases, cleaning the car’s oxygen sensor can resolve the problem.

4. Bad Spark Plugs

Man holding faulty spark plugs

Spark plugs in a car create the ignition required to start the engine. A bad spark plug can result in noticeable performance loss and higher fuel consumption. Car misfiring and poor acceleration may also be observed due to faulty spark plugs. Since driving with faulty spark plugs can have dire consequences, therefore, it should be dealt with on priority.

5. Clogged Catalytic Converter

Catalytic converters beneath a car

A catalytic converter, as the name suggests, converts toxic gases into less harmful ones by using catalysts. Therefore, it plays an important role in a car’s exhaust system equipped with an internal combustion engine.

In case the catalytic converter chokes or fails, your car will emit hazardous gases with black smoke. A choked catalytic converter is one of the common signs of why a car does not accelerate when pressing fuel.

6. Defective Throttle Position Sensor

The throttle position sensor (TPS) monitors the amount of fuel a car engine gets. It does so by detecting the angle of the throttle valve opening and sending the response to the car’s control unit. A bad throttle position sensor is often a factor behind car acceleration problems. The car’s speed cannot be controlled by the accelerator in case the TPS malfunctions.

6. Fuel System Malfunctioning

The car engine requires fuel for the combustion process. But when the fuel system malfunctions, inadequate fuel is provided to the engine resulting in car acceleration problems. The fuel delivery method may starve the car engine of fuel due to several factors. These factors include:

– Dirty Fuel Filter

Fuel filters prevent debris and other contaminants from entering the car’s combustion chamber. A bad fuel filter will not allow fuel to enter the engine properly which is why a car rumbles when accelerating.

– Faulty Fuel Injector

Fuel injectors regulate the amount of fuel that enters the combustion chamber, through fuel lines. Bad fuel injectors are the ones that get clogged over time by fuel contaminants hindering fuel delivery.

– Defective Fuel Pump

The fuel pump pulls the fuel from the gas tank through the fuel lines to the engine. A bad fuel pump is unable to supply fuel to the injectors resulting in car acceleration problems and in severe cases, stalling can be observed.

Poor acceleration when detected must be inspected and resolved immediately. Upon detection of even the slightest bit of trouble that can be as simple as replacing a clogged air filter, one should get the task done on priority.

It is always recommended to seek out the help of a trusted and professional technician for a complete car inspection and keep yourself ahead of the car maintenance schedule. Moreover, if you are looking for modern cars with high tech features, you can check out these used cars for sale in the UAE.

Stay tuned to the UAE’s leading auto blogs for more information on common car issues and their solutions.

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