Press the gas pedal but your vehicle is lacking power? Don’t despair. Losing your ability to accelerate when you need to can be a major safety concern.
Sudden loss of acceleration has quite a few potential causes. Keep reading to learn why your car is losing power when accelerating and how to fix the issue.
Reasons Your Car Loses Power But the Engine Remains Running
There are many reasons why your vehicle may be losing power that can affect both gas and diesel engines. These causes can be broken down into three areas:
- Mechanical problems such as: low compression, clogged fuel filter, dirty air filter, clogged exhaust manifold.
- Malfunction of sensors such as: camshaft position sensor, MAF sensor, oxygen sensor, crankshaft sensor and all sensors relative to the EFI system.
- Malfunction of actuators such as: bad fuel injectors, bad fuel pump, bad spark plugs.
#1 – Low Compression (Gas & Diesel Engine)
In order for a car’s engine to function properly and provide adequate power to the vehicle, there must be good cylinder compression throughout the combustion process. If the compression is low, then the power of the engine will be low.
The result will be an engine that simply doesn’t function properly. Diagnosing low cylinder compression is the next step toward a solution.
#2 – Clogged Fuel Filter (Gas & Diesel Engine)
The fuel filter is located in between the fuel injectors and fuel pump of your vehicle. The job of the fuel filter is to screen the gasoline for any impurities which may exist in it. That way, when the fuel pump sends the gasoline into the engine, those impurities won’t be there.
The fuel filter is literally a barrier between the contaminants in the gasoline and the engine of your vehicle.
If you were to have a dirty fuel filter or one that couldn’t perform its job properly because it’s damaged or clogged, fuel pressure would be reduced and it would even be possible for those contaminants to find their way into the engine and at some point, cause expensive damage.
Once that happens, the engine will eventually lose its power and the overall functionality of the vehicle will be impaired. Replacing your fuel filter is the most straightforward fix.
#3 – Bad Air Filter (Gas & Diesel Engine)
The internal combustion chamber of an engine is responsible for mixing gasoline and air together in order to generate the power that is needed to run your vehicle. Before the air can enter the chamber, it must pass through an air filter that screens out bugs, debris, and other kinds of impurities that may exist in it.
If these impurities were to get into the engine, they could cause severe damage. However, air filters tend to get clogged after they’ve been used for a while.
Once an air filter gets clogged, it will limit the amount of air that can get into the internal combustion chamber. This will negatively impact the functionality of the vehicle because the engine won’t be able to generate a sufficient amount of power to run the car.
Replace your air filter and you should be good as new. If you have a reusable air filter such as a K&N, simply clean it according to the manufacturer’s directions.
#4 – Clogged Exhaust Pipe (Gas & Diesel Engine)
There are two filters in an exhaust system; the muffler and the catalytic converter. The job of the catalyst converter is to cut down the amount of pollution generated from the exhaust gases.
As for the muffler, its job is simply to decrease the amount of noise that is made. If the exhaust pipe or any of its filters were to get clogged, it would weaken the functionality of the engine by reducing its power and making the vehicle drive slow when trying to accelerate.
A clogged exhaust system is bad on any vehicle but it’s even worse on a turbocharged vehicle.
#5 – Camshaft Position Sensor Malfunction (Gas & Diesel Engine)
The vehicle’s camshaft position sensor is responsible for gathering information about the camshaft speed of the vehicle and then sending it to the electronic control module (ECM).
This module is a computer which exists inside most cars on the road today. Once information about the camshaft speed is sent to the ECM, the computer will then manage the timing of both the fuel injection and ignition based on this information.
However, if there is a malfunction with the camshaft position sensor and it’s not able to send this information to the ECM, then the performance of the engine will be greatly impacted and likely won’t be able to function properly.
#6 – MAF Sensor Malfunction (Gas Engine)
The main responsibility of a Mass Airflow Sensor is to measure the amount of air that flows into the engine and then report this amount to the Powertrain Control Module. From there, the module will use this information to calculate the load that is being placed on the engine.
If there were to be some sort of malfunction with the sensors, then the engine’s performance would be diminished.
#7 – Oxygen Sensor Malfunction (Gas & Diesel Engine)
When exhaust gases leave your vehicle’s engine, the amount of gases which leave is measured by the oxygen sensor. The electronic control module then uses this information to figure out the real-time air-to-fuel ratio that exists in the vehicle’s engine.
The oxygen sensor is positioned inside of the exhaust stream. It enables the engine timing and fuel injection system to do their jobs efficiently. The oxygen sensor even provides support with emission control as well.
But if a malfunction were to take place with the oxygen sensor, then it wouldn’t be able to accurately send information about the air-to-fuel ratio to the electronic control module. This would cause the engine to start performing poorly and it would ultimately have a negative impact on the environment.
#8 – Bad Fuel Injectors (Gas and Diesel Common Rail Engine)
Fuel injectors are an important management component of a vehicle’s engine. They are located within the fuel system of a vehicle and their main job is to spray fuel inside of the engine.
The computer of the engine is what controls the fuel injector and the specific time intervals and patterns in which the injector sprays fuel into the engine. That way, the engine can perform the best that it can under different driving conditions.
You will find that most vehicles on the road these days have fuel injectors in them. If a fuel injector were to become damaged or malfunction in some way, then the engine would not be able to generate a sufficient amount of power to run the vehicle.
You can expect all kinds of engine performance problems to take place since the fuel injector is a crucial part of the fuel system.
#9 – Bad or Weak Fuel Pump (Gas Engine)
The responsibility of the fuel pump is to take fuel from the gas tank and transfer it into the engine of the vehicle. Not only that, the fuel pump ensure that the fuel is delivered at the right pressure so that it can meet the demands of the engine for maximum performance.
If something were to malfunction or go wrong with the fuel pump, your car won’t accelerate and the performance of the engine would ultimately be jeopardized.
Read Also: Symptoms of a bad throttle position sensor
#10 – Bad Spark Plugs (Gas Engine)
Spark plugs are an important component of a vehicle’s internal combustion motor. After the ignition coil sends an electrical signal to the spark plugs, they transmit that signal to the combustion chamber so that its air & fuel mixture can be ignited by an electric spark.
If the spark plugs were to ever fail, then the engine’s performance would diminish and eventually fail altogether.
#11 – Bad Ignition Coil (Gas Engine)
The ignition coils of the ignition system serve as an electronic engine management element which is responsible for converting the 12 volts of power generated by the vehicle into 20,000 volts. This amount of voltage is needed in order to generate the electrical spark which can ignite the air & fuel mixture of the engine.
If the ignition coil were to fail, then the vehicle would be unable to accelerate and its power would be lost.
Other Causes of No Power When Accelerating
- Bad turbocharger
- Bad EGR valve
- Bad injection pump delivery valve (conventional diesel engine)
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