car losing power when accelerating

Car Losing Power when Accelerating – Reasons and Actionable Solutions

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The engine is the heart of your vehicle and so its maintenance is of utmost importance. But sometimes, for some reason, you come across all sorts of engine related issues that make you scratch your head while wondering what’s going on. One such issue is when your car is losing power when accelerating.

There’s a variety of reasons why this happens, and so in this article, we are going to discuss the whys and the hows of this common conundrum every automobile owner I’m sure had experienced before or are experiencing right now. That’s why you’re here right? Because here at we always got you covered!

Car Lose Power when Accelerating – Possible Reasons

Let’s have a rundown of all the possible reasons first why your car is losing power when accelerating:

  • Failing or bad spark plugs
  • Clogging and Dirt
  • Sensors malfunctioning
  • Faulty Fuel Injectors
  • Faulty Ignition Coil
  • Faulty Fuel Pump
  • Compression problems

Failing or bad spark plugs

bad spark plug signNeedless to say, a very integral part of your spark-ignition engine system, the spark plug ignites your air/fuel mixture by sending an electric spark through the spark wires to the combustion system. This, in turn, fires up your engine and eventually runs your vehicle.

When a spark plug is down or is failing, naturally, you will have symptoms such as losing power or no power when accelerating.

How to identify a bad spark plug?

Listen: When you hear knocking like noise or rattling, that may be a sign of a bad spark plug as it causes misfires.

When the vehicle is hard to start, reduce performance and poor fuel economy can also be signs of a failing spark plug. This means that your vehicle is wasting fuel. So when you notice that you go low on fuel rather quickly, check your spark plugs.

Expert Tip: We have a separate article discussing the symptoms of bad spark plugs. It might be helpful.

How often do you replace spark plugs?

It’s suggested to have new spark plugs installed after about 30000 miles of usage. Also, it would really cost you that much but will save you from a lot of hassle.

Clogging and Dirt

Air filter – check, fuel filter – check, catalytic converter, including DPF filter – check.

dirty air filter car jerking when drivingCheck for clogging and dirt build up on these components. Sometimes the best way to maintain your car and make sure it runs smoothly is to clean your engine and everything under the hood from time to time. 

Dust and other elements can damage your combustion chamber, an air filter makes sure you have clean air going into the mixture.

So when your air filter is damaged or dirty then it’ll affect the quality and amount of air your chamber is getting, thus resulting in your car acting up.

And of course, its counterpart is your fuel filter. The other half of the air/fuel mixture, it is responsible for the quality or quantity of fuel your chambers are getting. So when there’s not enough fuel moving around then it may be a clogged fuel filter, you need to get it checked out. 

Lastly, check your catalytic converter. What does it do? Your catalytic converter is like your car’s exhaust system, so the more efficient it works, the smoother your engine runs.

It removes all the unnecessary elements in your engine and so when it is dirty or all clogged up you sure will have some problems.

Sensors malfunctioning

Another reason why your car is slow to accelerate is when the different sensors in your hood that works together to get the engine running are malfunctioning. What are these sensors you may ask? We’ll discuss further.

MAF sensor rich running car symptom
Image: wikipedia

We’re talking about the Mass Airflow Sensor or commonly known as MAF, and the Oxygen Sensor or your car.

The MAF makes sure to measure the amount of air the car needs to accelerate. This sensor gets worn out in time due to heat and dust and so it’s not uncommon for it to have faulty readings after some time that may lead to your car losing power.

The Oxygen Sensor, on the other hand, is located in your exhaust pipes and works hand in hand with your MAF to make sure the amount of gas getting out of your vehicle is measured.

So you can see how these two components work together to get your car moving and how it affects it when you try to accelerate.

Faulty Fuel Injectors

From your fuel pump, a fuel injector sprays the needed fuel into your cylinders to get it running. So naturally, when these components go bad your car is sure to act up. A common reason why your car loses power while driving.

You can try and run fuel injector cleaners but sometimes it may time to replace them.

To clean or replace fuel injectors?

Fuel injectors can be a bit pricey but take note that you have the option to replace just the faulty one if the rest are still in good condition.

Make sure to clean your injectors after about 45000 miles or 36 months to not go through the hassle and expenses on replacing them, cleaning them regularly should really go a long way for you.

Faulty Ignition Coil

Ignition coils are the components under your hood that are responsible for transforming your battery’s low voltage into the thousands of voltage needed for your spark plugs to ignite fuel.

car is slow to accelerate ignition coils problemAs of this point, it may be clear how each component affects the other, it’s like a domino effect, one component relies on another for it to function properly.

When your spark plugs are new or if you’ve made sure that it’s not what’s causing loss of power when accelerating then go check up on your ignition coil.

How to check if your ignition coil is faulty?

A number of symptoms can manifest bad ignition coil symptoms, although sometimes admittedly it’s exactly the same symptoms as to a spark plug or some other engine components. Some are listed below:

  • Backfiring
  • Poor Fuel Economy
  • Engine misfiring
  • Vehicle staffing
  • Car jerking when accelerating, rough idling, poor power
  • Check engine light flashing
  • Hard starting

How much is an ignition coil?

Ignition coils can come cheap, luckily for us. From about $75 to $300 with about $100 more for labor costs.

It is recommended to replace ignition coils when it’s about past 80000 miles of usage. They are designed to last 2 years or 24000 miles but some last for about 100000 miles.

Faulty Fuel Pump

You’ve checked the above items but still, you haven’t resolved the problem?

You scratch your head once again and ask yourself: why is my car losing power then?

Fret not, it may be your fuel pump. The fuel pump is responsible for regulating the fuel supply to your engine, so it’s very essential that it works properly to prevent poor engine performance and problems when accelerating. 

We’ve had a whole article on recognizing the bad fuel pump symptoms. It might be worth reading.

Compression problems

We’re referring to compression issues within your internal combustion system. Your cylinders need strong compression in order to generate enough power for your vehicle to accelerate.

Sometimes due to bad seals or some other issues, a low level of compression happens thus a low level of power generated and your vehicle will stall or won’t start at all.

Expert Tip: Use a compression tester to check if this is your problem.

Low or No Power When Accelerating – Solutions:

Simple, regular cleaning and check-up

Sometimes a regular visit to your local car mechanic or auto shop for cleaning and maintenance will prevent most of the damage caused by failing engine components, thus eliminating the chances of experiencing engine failure leading to loss of power when driving.

Prepping your car will go a long way and would save you time, hassle, and expenses. Detection of failing components or over usage is valuable not do damage any other components under your hood leading to cost-effective engine maintenance.

no power when accelerating Solutions

Check on the connections

As we’ve discussed everything under your hood works off each other. The dominoes won’t fall after another as expected when a component isn’t working properly.

Having said that, one of the first things you can check is if everything is connected properly.

Cables, hoses, nuts, bolts, check every wire for damage or corrosion to make sure there’s constant communication between your engine components. Maybe it’s not a major problem and is only caused by poor connections.

Scan your car’s computer

A computer scanner for your car will shed light on a lot of problems going on in it. Regardless if your check engine light is on or not when you’re experiencing loss of power then you may need to grab a code scanner and start checking.

Check tires

Lastly, check your tires, under inflation may cause your car to lose power as well. This one is easy to overlook as we may think it’s an engine thing right away, so take time to consider this possibility.

Car Loses Power While Driving – Conclusion

Here at Garage Chief your safety and riding experience is the top priority. So we make sure that you get all the right answers to your urgent questions right here right now.

We hope that we were able to answer your questions when it comes to your car losing power when accelerating and so much more.

We don’t want your vacation trip ruined because of a bad engine, or for you to have trouble on your way to work because of engine failure.

Safe trips and have a good day!


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