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Car Hesitates When Accelerating – Find Out Why This Happens In Your Car! 

Car Hesitates When Accelerating – Find Out Why This Happens In Your Car! 

Drivers need to determine the main reasons why their car hesitates when accelerating. By realizing the most common symptoms associated with hesitation, stuttering, or trouble speeding up on highway roads, car owners can prevent these issues from worsening over time.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE

10 Symptoms of Car Hesitates When Accelerating


Noticing the symptoms of your car hesitates when accelerating can be frustrating for drivers. 

These symptoms can occur on a variety of cars, with the most common being on high mileage cars or older cars that have many years of driving. A driver might not necessarily notice these symptoms every day of driving their car, but they will build up over time and become more obvious during strenuous circumstances.


If you find that your car hesitates when accelerating when the extra load is placed on the engine, this can be a sign that something is wrong with your vehicle.


There are many common causes of why your car hesitates when accelerating 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 why your car hesitates when accelerating, 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 flowing into the engine, a clogged sensor can lead to incorrect data being sent to the engine control unit to calculate the necessary air and fuel mixture ratio. 

  • The average price for replacing your mass airflow sensor is around $300 on average, with the labor around $60 and the parts costing drivers typically around $240. The labor is not that extensive, so most mechanics should have this procedure done in under one hour. 
  • Low Fluid Levels

If you have an automatic transmission and 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 what causes ‘the car hesitates when accelerating,’ 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 the car hesitates 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 have 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. 

  • It costs around $100 to have your fluid changed by a dealer, service center, local mechanic, or independent garage. The typical price range is between $80 and $250 and depends on the other problems in your vehicle. The average cost is around $100 for both manual and automatic transmissions. 
  • Along with changing the transmission fluid, you should look into replacing the fuel filter and the transmission fluid pan every time you change your fluid. 
  • 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, 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 your car hesitates when accelerating.

  • A transmission fluid flush is typically between $127 and $250, which is approximately twice as much as a fluid change due to the extra fluid required to completely refurbish and change out the old fluid that is causing damage to your transmission. The average price comes to $150 for a fluid flush. 
  • 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 your car hesitates when accelerating. 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.

  • The average price of a clutch replacement is usually between $703 and $755, depending on the specific parts required for your vehicle. The labor pricing is between $526 and $664, making up most of the overall procedure’s price.  
  • 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.

  • Spark plugs are usually quite inexpensive when looking into how to fix why your car hesitates when accelerating – the price is usually between $16 and $100, with the labor costing between $40 and $150 for around 30 minutes to 2 hours of work. 
  • Worn Gears

The gear set is a common reason you might ask yourself why your car hesitates when accelerating.   The gear set in your vehicle needs clutches and bands to change the gears. The automatic transmission bands are usually the key issue in 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.

    • Fixing the signs of worn gears or a damaged band might sometimes require drivers to replace the entire transmission. In this case, they have to decide what is best for their specific vehicle and their car’s condition. 
  • The average transmission repair costs between $1500 and $5,000 for most domestic cars in the United States, while major transmission repairs can cost as much as $2,000 in labor alone.  
  • 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 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 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 a lean or too rich fuel mixture. A maladjusted fuel mixture can lead you to ask the question of why your car hesitates when accelerating.

  • Replacing your o2 sensor typically ranges between $20 and $94 depending on the brand of the sensor and the severity of the other damage in the car. The labor of a mechanic will usually range between $113 and $478 in total for parts and labor. 
  • 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 your car hesitates when accelerating. 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. 

  • Replacing your throttle position sensor is usually between $171 and $219, with the labor between $59 and $74 or between 45 minutes and 1 hour of work. The parts are usually between $112 and $145 for this procedure. 
  • Faulty Solenoids

Along with the reasons above 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 is going on inside the automatic transmission. Without the tools at a mechanic’s shop or 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 determining why your car hesitates when accelerating. 

  • Depending on the make, model, and year of your car, replacing a single faulty transmission solenoid is around $250 for most vehicles. Unfortunately, replacing an entire pack to fix your car’s faulty symptoms can cost around $400 on average.  
  • Missing Gears

Missing gears can occur from a low amount of transmission fluid, resulting from water getting inside 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 your car hesitates when accelerating.

  • The cost to have your fluid changed by a dealer ranges from $80 to $250, with the average price being around $100 for manual and automatic cars. 
  • Along with changing your fluid for around $100, you should replace the transmission filter and the pan. 
  • You will pay between $250 and $340 to have your transmission filter changed, with the labor between $!00 and $125 for 1-2 hours of work, and the parts ranging from $150 to $215. 

The Bottom Line

By figuring out the most common symptoms as to why your car hesitates when accelerating, you can prevent these issues from leading to expensive repair prices. Knowing the main reasons why your car hesitates when accelerating can help you find out what part you may need to replace within your vehicle, like the solenoids, throttle position sensor, spark plugs, or worn-out gears!