11 Causes of Car Losing Power When Accelerating (Gas & Diesel Engine)

If you are driving your car and notice that you are losing power as you accelerate, there can only be one of two reasons for this. Either you do not have enough fuel in your vehicle or you do not have enough power.

There are many reasons why your vehicle may be losing power, especially when accelerating. Some of these common causes are:

  • 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 injectors, bad fuel pump, bad spark plugs

11 Causes of a Vehicle Losing Power when Accelerating

There are a few different causes between gas and diesel engines. Below are the 11 most common reasons for a car or truck losing power when trying to accelerate:

#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)

fuel filter

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, then those contaminants would 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)

dirty air filter

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 gasses.

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.

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#6 – MAF Sensor Malfunction (Gas Engine)

MAF sensor

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 gasses leave your vehicle’s engine, the amount of gasses 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

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, there would be acceleration problems with the vehicle 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.

Read also: Causes of Car High Fuel Consumption in Diesel and Petrol Engines

#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 Turbo charger
  • Bad EGR valve
  • Bad Injection pump delivery valve ( Conventional Diesel Engine)
 

Comments

  1. Hello, my stepvan with a diesel MWM international engine is failing when you hit the gas pedal. What could be the cause?
    The truck was sitting at a storage for 3 or 4 months.

    • It can be learning value memory in your engine ecu is deleted due to no power source. Just make initialization, start engine warm up than drive vehicle for more than 30 minutes.

  2. My MercedesBenz c220 cdi 2010 when reaching a speed of 130 the orange light comes up and it looses power diesel pump inside the tank have been replaced but it is still doing the same

  3. My petrol car loses its power when i accelerate..i changed the filter,lead set oil pump…but the problem still exists..what will b the cause?help me out..!diagnose..

  4. my 2005 ford five hundred has a acceleration problem and just happens when am driving of course but just when I want to or need to accelerate it tends to kinda shake or some kinda a big vibration and stops as soon as release the gas pedal..?

  5. My new Holland wheel loader have high acceleration and sometimes it can accelerate itself without stepping on the pedal. Also there low steering pressure warning on its dash board. What might be the problem?

  6. Hi my name is Timothy and I’m have trouble with my 2002 nissan Altima 3.5 I can be riding down the road and it lose power I change the throttle body sensor I change the two cam sensors but it still doing the exact same thing like I said I could be going down the road and I lose power but like if I pull my my window like I’m letting my windows up and I hold it it’ll catch up catchpower what’s going on with it and it’s like I have no separation but it’ll catch and then I lose again and a kickstand I lose again help me please

  7. hello! my names are Alfred John.
    Currently i replaced a new dry cell battery(Toyota Passo) but my car still faces the problem of near-shutting down.

    What might be the problem?!

  8. Thank you for your very helpfull advise. I drive a 08 vauxhall corsa. While i was driving i was loosing power i hope its only the filter that needs changing as i also had some white smoke coming from the tail end of my car. But when it had rested for a few hours it started up fine. I am going to get it checked out so fingers crossed

  9. hi my Toyota Innova was just oiled change and and service cleaned last April 2018. Lately, it is having difficulty accelerating. Would you know the reason why?

  10. Hola, comento un caso particular en que me falló una boina de corriente, eso también hace que caiga la aceleración del vehiculo, aunque no solo eso, por supuesto afecta toda la parte electrica,

  11. My Nissan primastar van 1.9 drops power in 6 gear . You need to keep revs up for it not to drop what would be the cause

  12. I notice that there is absolute no pick up/ shoot after vehicle is driven 80 -100 kms

    How the problem can be
    corrected

  13. My car ford focus 2013 model sedan type experiencing the following: Most of the time when i started to run the car, i felt that rpm doesn’t increase even i stepped on the accelerator with pressure, then after few moment, as the automatic gear shifted, rpm decreases in a sudden, which is supposedly smooth. And it happened every time the gear shifted. However, during the high gear and on stable running, everything is well. But then, when using engine brakes, i felt that something is jerking or shaking especially when shifting to low gear along with the engine brake.

    Last week transmission has been changed with a 2nd hand one, catalytic converter and TCM were brand new changed as well.

    What is the problem?

  14. Hello sir I have a Golf 4 if you start the car it we start but if you want if to fire it will not fire well please sir what can cause the problem

  15. My Golf 6 1.4 TSI 2012 model is loosing power and cut off ,when I press accelerator the is no compression on it. The other thing I have noticed is that the car it’s like changing it self when it’s about to start this cutting off. I normally park the car aside and wait for 20 to 30 min before it can start again. When I open the bonnet the engine is so hot especially the turbo side. I have taken my car to the Vw dealers and mechanics non of them seems to be able to solve this issue please assist me. I am in South Africa

    • look like your car overheat, please check engine oil on dipstick to find out the oil and coolant mix. and check the compression each cylinder

  16. Hi I just had camshaft sensor replaced in my santa fee. Collected it from garage and its loosing power. Can you explain why this is. Very worried

  17. Hello
    I drive toyota landcruiser prado. It has 1kd engine diesel. Meanwhile it has lost its power, i thought it was nozzels, we have change the nozzel but the problem is still there. What can i do more?

  18. Hello just asking if yous could help me with my 2001 Hyundai accent. My car stutters wen cold an taking off. Feels like I lose alot of power wen taking off. Already changed my spark plugs an leads?? Thanks

  19. Hello I have a 2003 mitsubishi lancer and it’s loosing power when I accelerate. I change coil packs it’s the same problem I realize the transmission not changing out from second gear it’s just bucking, especially when going up a hill it’l buck buck and pause on the hill or crawling like a slug. What’s the problem?

  20. Experiencing low power on my grand starex auto trans.
    I just used the + and – function. After a several hours it cannot climb the hills.
    What seams to be the problem? (Sliding Clutch)

  21. Hello my name is Aron singleton I have a 2005 Toyota tundra sr5 I am having problems i have the gas to the floor on the highway it will high rev and no power I changed the spark plugs today but that did not help what can cause that please help

    • It’s likely either a transmission issue (automatic or manual) or slipping clutch (manual). Check your transmission fluid level, color, and to make sure there are no metal shavings.

  22. I have a Citroen ds3 2010 plate. It has loss of power, when going up gear the sound of groaning gets louder. The car has also been cutting out. What could it be please?

  23. my car is very sluggish, when i pull off in first it doesnt give off power especially when im on a uphill. its also taking alot of petrol. i just replaced the fuel filter and yet its still doing the same thing and it jerks alot. i dont know what is wrong with it could you maybe assist me? thank you

  24. My Opel Corsa ldv/lvd is loosing power when I step on the gas pedal. Fuel pump has been changed to Bosch and fuel filter has been changed too. It gives me stress. Please help before it breaks down.

    • Did you scan for any trouble codes? It could be fuel injectors, spark plugs, or some type of sensor that needs replacing.

  25. Hi my Nissan skyline is not accelerating, smelling unburnt petrol to exhaust , lossing power, what gonna be the problem please help me

  26. 83 FJ60 – accelerates fine and can reach top speeds but if pedal floored I get major hesitation. It will accelerate faster at 3/4 depression than full depression of the pedal.

  27. Have a 1993 Ford escort wagon 1.9 motor I changed the wires place air filter and after driving it 5 miles it loses acceleration to the point the cars doesn’t move let it set over night and it runs like a new car and it just started after the tune up and done check and firing order is correct I dont know what I’m miss and could use some help thank you

  28. Hi guys,
    Came here to share my experience. My Toyota Land Cruiser Prado would lose power when accelerating. The mechanic said there can be three possible issues:
    1. Clogged fuel tank filter
    2. Computer sensor issue
    3. Fuel pump issue
    The easiest was computer sensor issue so we started troubleshooting it first. They found the issue with the sensor and fixed it. It turned out the gas pedal was also malfunctioning, so they changed that as well.
    The problem is resolved but it took them a whole day to fix it. The mechanic advised to still get the fuel tank cleaned up and filters changed, so I’ll get that done as well.
    The mechanic also said that we cannot completely rule out the possibility of changing the fuel pump, which is quite expensive. I hope we don’t have to.
    I hope the above info helps.

  29. My bmw losses power sometimes when on the motorway when I go over a dip in the road and the traction control light comes on help me plz

    • This is likely a faulty wheel speed sensor. Scanning the computer for error codes should confirm this. A bad traction control module could also be the problem but less likely.

  30. My 2000 Mitsubishi Lancer ce2 mr loses power under acceleration. The air filters fine but I haven’t checked anything else yet what should I check next?

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