Car Won’t Accelerate But RPMs Go Up (Reasons And Solutions)

Are your vehicle experiencing the issue: the car won’t accelerate but RPMs go up?

This problem can make you extremely frustrated and irritated while driving, especially on a highway. In this situation, you will find it challenging to overtake others on the road.

Thus, it can be dangerous for the driver and other pedestrians on the road. First, you need to find out the reason for fixing it at home if you can.

This article will provide you with the causes of the issue. Let’s scroll down to discover!

The Importance Of RPMs To Our Car

Car Won’t Accelerate But RPMs Go Up

How To Check RPMs

RPM (revolutions per minute) is the number of times the vehicle crankshaft turns in a minute. Your car’s RPM gauge indicates how fast its engine is spinning at any given time.

You can measure RPM in various ways. The first one is a tachometer that you can find on the car’s dashboard. It displays the RPMs in numerical form.

One  more method is a timing light. This tool connects to an engine’s spark plug wire and generates a pulsing light to calculate the rotational speed of the car engine.

An electronic scanner is also a tool for calculating RPMs. You can connect it to a car’s diagnostic port to check various data, such as RPM.

Why Is It Important to Know Your Car’s RPM?

Knowing the car engine’s RPM is useful for many reasons. Firstly, it can assist drivers in troubleshooting engine issues. If the RPM abnormally drops or increases, it could mean that the engine is in trouble.

However, sometimes you need to increase the RPM (accelerating or climbing a hill).

One advantage of high RPMs is it lets a vehicle rev up in no time. This can come in handy when overtaking other vehicles on the freeway.

High RPMs also assist in towing heavy stuff. A higher number will lend the automobile more torque and power, making it simpler to pull the load when towing a large trailer.

Checking the RPM can also maximize the car’s gas mileage. The higher the RPM is, the more gas the vehicle will consume.

As a result, if you want to have fuel economy, always try to keep the engine RPMs low if you can.

8 Reasons When Car Won’t Accelerate But RPMs Go Up And Solutions

8 Reasons When Car Won't Accelerate But RPMs Go Up And Solutions

Your car won’t accelerate, but RPMs go up? It can happen for several reasons, including transmission problems, dirty fuel system, failed ignition system, bad clutch, etc.

Let’s keep reading to get hold of all the reasons and solutions.

Transmission Fluid

When RPMs go up but slow acceleration, it can be a low level of transmission fluid in your vehicle.

The transmission fluid’s mission is to ensure and assist the transmission in transferring power to the vehicle’s engine. When the transmission fluid gushes out or runs low, this could cause a problem.

Only the torque converter can transfer power, not the engine. This situation is especially true when the transmission fluid is low.

As a result, you need to check the transmission fluid at home and change it if you see the fluid level is lower or higher than recommended. Otherwise, you can have your vehicle inspected quickly.

Failed Transmission

Another possibility of RPMs going up but not accelerating is a transmission problem.

The car may hesitate or stall if the gears won’t shift properly. It makes you have trouble accelerating while pushing the gas pedal to create higher RPMs.

A failed transmission might be caused by many reasons, such as too high or too low transmission fluid, a faulty shift solenoid, or worn-out gears.

You need to keep an eye out for warning lights. Transmission problems will usually make your car’s Check Engine light illuminate.

Many transmission issues can be resolved with in-car repairs or minor adjustments. Most minor repairs do not necessitate the removal of the transmission.

If your car has a seriously failed transmission, it’s better to bring it to an auto shop.

Fuel System

If the fuel system has trouble, the engine may not receive the correct amount of fuel.

That’s why RPMs go up but car doesn’t accelerate. A clogged fuel filter is the most common reason the fuel system fails.

A fuel filter’s primary responsibility is to keep anything other than fuel from passing through and entering the car engine.

This filter traps many tiny particles such as gunk, dirt, or any other type of sediment. As a result, it can clog the filter and protect the car’s engine from receiving the necessary fuel.

Eventually, the car engine would be unable to create any power, preventing the car from accelerating.

If you have this problem, you should clean the fuel filter for gunk or dirt.

Before you begin, release the pressure in your fuel system and disconnect the battery. Remove the fuel filter from the fuel lines and clean it with a solvent.

Allow it to dry for an hour before reinstalling, reconnecting your battery, and starting your engine.

Ignition System

If you face this problem, the ignition system might malfunction.

Once the spark plug becomes clogged or the wiring is broken, the spark may not properly ignite the fuel. As a result, the engine may misfire or run abnormally.

The ignition coil in your car should last 100,000 miles or more. Wear and tear can cause this part to fail prematurely.

Most newer vehicles have a hard plastic cover that is designed to protect the coil from damage.

Depending on the vehicle, one ignition coil can cost anywhere from $35 to more than $300. The labor costs to replace the part are typically less than $100.

Bad Clutch

Another possible cause of this issue is that the clutch disc has worn out. Manual vehicles typically have clutch plates.

This transmission type is becoming increasingly scarce. As a result, many people lack basic knowledge about manual transmissions.

Owing to a faulty clutch, the vehicle will not accelerate even if the RPMs increase. The clutch connects the transmission to the engine via the input shaft and the flywheel.

When the clutch begins to wear out, it can no longer hold the gear. It will slip off and lose grip on the car flywheel, leaving a squeaky clutch pedal.

This often happens at high speeds and with high acceleration. It deteriorates with clutch slips and can only handle a specific amount of torque.

The only solution for this situation is to change the worn-out part. If you cannot do it yourself, bring it to a repair shop for help.

A Vacuum Leak

It’s also possible that your car is experiencing a vacuum leak. A vacuum is required for the engine to function normally.

If it has a leak, the car won’t accelerate but RPMs go up automatic. A defective gasket, a leaking intake manifold, or a cracked hose are all potential causes of vacuum leaks.

Any of these problems could make your car stall or hesitate when the RPMs rise. 

Applying vacuum grease to O rings will help prevent leaks. This is because it increases vacuum sealing and keeps the O rings from hardening.

This grease needs to have a low vapor pressure and a high tackiness.

When you’re still in the dark about the problem, bring your car to a qualified mechanic and have them diagnose and repair it.

Throttle Body

If your vehicle’s throttle body is dirty due to sediments or dirt, this could cause the problem: RPMs go up but no acceleration.

The throttle body is in charge of controlling the air amount that goes into the engine.

More throttle valves will be opened when you apply more pressure to the gas pedal. This lets more oxygen enter the engine alongside the fuel for more efficient combustion.

If the throttle body is dirty, your vehicle may lose power. A clogged throttle body can restrict airflow and make your vehicle’s power unstable.

Throttle bodies do not need to be completely replaced, but only certain parts related to them.

Instead of changing a new throttle body, you should clean and replace the sensors first. You can follow these quick steps to clean this component:

  • Unplug the air duct.
  • Apply throttle body cleaner.
  • Let the solvent dry.

Catalytic Converter

RPM not going up when accelerating can happen because the catalytic converter is malfunctioning. Catalytic converters filter harmful engine exhaust pollutants from your vehicle.

This system transfers contaminants into compounds found in our atmosphere (oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, etc.).

The engine can overheat and stall if the converter fails to function properly. Various reasons, such as an O2 sensor malfunction, or a clogged converter, might cause it.

Catalytic converter replacement is not inexpensive. The average cost of changing a new catalytic converter for most vehicles ranges between $950 and $2500, including labor and parts.

The catalytic converter alone can cost up to $2250. That could be close to or more than the value of your car!

Thus, if you are experiencing this issue, it is critical to ask a professional mechanic so that the hidden problem can be resolved. Or else, it could cause additional damage or an accident.


If your car won’t accelerate but RPMs go up, it might be a sign of some common issues. The most common cause is a faulty fuel system.

This problem can be frustrating and causes some dangerous situations while driving.

You can check it yourself to see whether you are able to handle the problem. Otherwise, it’s best to take it to a mechanic so they can diagnose and fix it.

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