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Car Doesn’t Accelerate When I Push The Gas – Here’s What You Need To Know

Car Doesn’t Accelerate When I Push The Gas – Here’s What You Need To Know

When figuring out why your car doesn’t accelerate when you push the gas, it is crucial to keep in mind the most common reasons as to why this occurs and figure out how to fix the issue before it gets any worse! 

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Why is my car having issues with accelerating?


There are common reasons as to why your car is having trouble accelerating. It can be quite disconcerting to be driving your car only to find out that it is slowly losing power while you accelerate and press on the gas pedal. You must be asking yourself – why is this happening?”


There are two main reasons why this occurs: either the car is running out of fuel and the level is too low in the engine, or the power is not sufficient to keep the car running. There are many causes as to why your car could be losing power, especially when you are accelerating and pressing on the gas.


The most common reasons why your car is having trouble accelerating is due to three main categories:


  1. Actuator Malfunction – bad spark plugs, faulty fuel pump, damaged fuel injectors, old fuel wiring, and other fuel component issues
  2. Sensor Malfunction – damaged oxygen sensor, faulty mass airflow sensor, broken crankshaft sensor, camshaft position sensor malfunctioning, and sensors in the EFI system
  3. Mechanical Problems – dirty and clogged exhaust manifold, broken or dirty air filter, clogged fuel filter, reduced compression 

Symptoms of Car Not Accelerating


Your car’s symptoms not accelerating like it normally does or like it used to can occur on a variety of cars, with the most common occurrences being on high mileage cars or older cars that have many years of driving on them. A driver might not necessarily notice these symptoms every single day of driving their car, but they will build up over time and become more obvious during circumstances that place more load on the engine, like driving uphill or accelerating past a car while switching lanes. 


There are many common causes of why your car will not accelerate when you push the gas, with some of the causes being minor and some being more serious that requires immediate attention.


  • Clogged Mass Airflow Sensor


When trying to answer the question of “why the car doesn’t accelerate when I push the gas,” the most common reason might be the mass airflow sensor is clogged or damaged. The mass airflow sensor, also known as the MAF sensor, is connected to the air cleaner. Since the airflow sensor works to measure the air that is flowing into the engine, a clogged sensor can lead to the incorrect data being sent to the engine control unit to calculate the necessary air and fuel mixture ratio. 


  • Low Fluid Levels


If you have an automatic transmission and you notice the transmission is slipping, the most common cause of your car lacking acceleration is low transmission fluid. The transmission fluid is necessary to lubricate the parts and keep your car running correctly. 


If you are asking yourself, “why doesn't my car accelerate when I push the gas,” this means that the car engine revs, but no power is transferred to the wheels to move the car. If the lack of power is caused by low transmission fluid, it will only get worse as the transmission overheats and friction builds during use.

Checking Transmission Fluid

To figure out why your car is lacking power when accelerating, you need to learn how to check your transmission fluid level. In many cars, you can do this easily by using a dipstick in the engine bay. The dipstick will look like the oil version but will be red. The transmission dipstick is located near the engine bay by the firewall.


Start by making sure the transmission fluid is warm and ready to be checked. Insert the dipstick into the transmission fluid – when you pull out the dipstick, note the color and the fluid condition. If you are having trouble noting any characteristics about the fluid, hold the transmission fluid to bright light and look for any contaminants. Any debris or shavings can indicate internal transmission damage. 


Now, you must decide whether or not to change the transmission fluid. If you need to change the transmission fluid, look at the transmission filter and make sure it is free of debris. If the filter is cleaned, you can go ahead with the change to prevent your car from lacking acceleration when you press on the gas. 


  • Burnt Transmission Fluid


Sometimes, the lack of acceleration while pressing on the gas pedal can be due to the transmission fluid burning instead of being at a sub-par level. If the fluid is not the right color like black instead of red, or you notice a burning smell, then this is likely the culprit. Burnt fluid can occur when the transmission overheats, and there is too much friction. In this case, you need to swap out your transmission fluid to answer the question of “why my car doesn’t accelerate when I push the gas.” 


  • Faulty Clutch


Both automatic and manual transmission use clutches. Although clutch problems are more common in manual cars, automatic cars can still have clutch issues. These clutch problems can cause you to ask yourself, “why my car doesn’t accelerate when I push the gas.” In an automatic car, the transmission and the torque converter have clutch plates that can become worn out and damaged due to insufficient transmission fluid. 


  • Spark Plug Misfire


A spark plug misfire can directly cause a lack of acceleration. Your car’s lack of power is another noticeable sign that you have faulty spark plugs in your car that can misfire. The lack of acceleration means your engine is unable to ignite and will be unable to increase power when the driver presses on the gas pedal.


  • Worn Gears


The gear set is a common reason you might ask yourself, “why my car doesn’t accelerate when I push the gas.”  The gear set in your vehicle needs clutches and bands to change the gears. The automatic transmission bands are usually the key issue when it comes to slipping and a lack of acceleration. If the fluid is not the issue, transmission slipping can be a sign of a worn band. The worn-out band and damaged band can allow parts of the transmission to continue to rotate for a few seconds after you change gears.


  • Oxygen Sensor Malfunction


An oxygen sensor monitors the exhaust emission within your car so that it can adjust the proper ratio of the air and fuel mixture as necessary to keep the engine running at an optimal performance level. If the car has too little fuel in terms of the air and fuel ratio, the engine will not be able to combust at the proper time internally. Not to mention, the ignition timing will be off, leading to a lack of power and acceleration.


If the oxygen sensor is damaged, it will not be able to send the information about the fuel to the engine control unit in your vehicle. The engine of your car will then have no idea how to adjust the ratio, resulting in  too lean or too rich fuel mixture. A maladjusted fuel mixture can lead you to ask the question of “why my car doesn’t accelerate when I push the gas.”


  • TPS Malfunction


The throttle position sensor, also known as the TPS, is in charge of monitoring the air intake within your engine. Usually housed in the valve that regulates the fluid from the shaft, the position sensor monitors the throttle’s position, sending this data to the engine control unit. 


One of the most important sensors in your vehicle sends signals to the transmission control module and is called the throttle position sensor. If the throttle position sensor cannot send the proper data to the transmission, this lets you know as the river that your transmission control module is bad. To determine if the position sensor is faulty, you might need to perform a throttle position sensor test.


Performing this test in your car can help you figure out “why my car doesn’t accelerate when I push the gas.” Some common signs of a throttle position sensor malfunctioning are jerking while accelerating, trouble changing gears, car stalling during use, engine surging, warning lights on the dashboard coming on, and a decrease in fuel efficiency. 


  • Faulty Solenoids


Along with the aforementioned reasons as to why your car might be lacking acceleration and power, there are other reasons for your transmission and engine problems. The gear changes in the automatic transmission are sparked by the transmission solenoids, functioning to allow the automatic transmission fluid to move and the clutches and bands to disengage from the system.


The problem with having the automatic transmission slipping when accelerating and lacking power is that it can be hard to determine what exactly is going on inside the automatic transmission. Without the tools at a mechanic’s shop or without tearing the transmission apart to look for worn or damaged parts, this diagnostic process can be lengthy. The computer-controlled transmissions have error codes that you can determine from diagnostic tools, similar to how your engine might notice the check engine light. 


As soon as you figure out that you might have faulty solenoids, you can get one step closer to “why my car doesn’t accelerate when I press the gas” question. 


  • Missing Gears


Missing gears can occur from a low amount of transmission fluid, resulting from water getting inside of the transmission, a lack of routine maintenance, fluid contamination, or a transmission fluid leak. If you do not fix this issue, it can lead to your engine overheating, excessive friction, and serious damage that can cause you to ask yourself, “why my car doesn’t accelerate when I push the gas.”


  • Engine Control Unit Issues


An error within your car’s computer, also known as the engine control unit or the ECU, can directly relate to the problems you are having with acceleration when you press the gas pedal. For example, pollution within the system or a build-up of debris can cause the computer to think that the car is providing excessive emissions, resulting in the car changing the air and fuel mixture. This can cause the engine to lose power and reduce the power output slowly. 


  • Fuel Filter


If you have not changed your fuel filter during the recommended intervals and it has built-up debris and dirt while doing its job, this can result in a lack of acceleration and power. The fuel filter can collect contaminants and sludge after prolonged use that usually come from the fuel tank. Dirt makes the fuel heavier than it should be, making it unable to move through the fuel system and transport to other parts, causing a  lack of lubrication. 


As you know by now, proper lubrication is key to making the acceleration responsive, preventing overheating, and preventing excessive friction. If a fuel filter is damaged, this can make you ask yourself, “why my car doesn’t accelerate when I push the gas.” 


Although the fuel filter might seem small to care about, it plays a crucial role in the car. This small component ensures no dirty fuel enters the system, prevents clogging in the fuel system, and prevents dirt from entering the fuel filter. The engine is some of the most responsive repairs in the car and can be a very costly fix.


Therefore it is no wonder that you need to ensure your fuel filter is always running at the peak performance and is not clogged. In order to do this, you need to know how to tell when you have a bad fuel filter, your fuel filter is damaged, or your fuel filter is wearing down over time. 



Finding out the main reasons as to why your car might be lacking acceleration and power can help you find the answer to your question of “why my car doesn’t accelerate when I press the gas.” If this is constantly happening in your vehicle, it can cause your engine, transmission, and internal systems to suffer.