Car Won’t Accelerate but RPM Goes Up (Causes & Fix)

Do your car won’t accelerate but rpm goes up? This problem can be caused by a faulty transmission or clogged air filters.

This article will explain why your car won’t accelerate but rpm goes up and how to fix it.

Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Accelerate but RPM Goes Up

1. Low Transmission Fluid (Automatic Transmission)

A low transmission fluid level is one of the reasons why your car won’t accelerate but rpm goes up. The job of the transmission fluid is to aid in transferring power to the wheels.

The power will only get to the torque converter and not the engine when the transmission fluid is low. Quickly check the transmission fluid.

2. Bad Torque Converter

The torque converter converts the mechanical power of an engine into hydraulic power. When the torque converter gets bad, it can no longer do its job, and power can not get to the transmission.

3. Drive Train No Longer Connected to Wheels

A broken axle shaft will stop the transmission from turning the wheels of your car. This will cause your car not to accelerate but the rpm goes up. You won’t feel even the slightest car jerk as you put it into gear.

4. Worn Clutch Disc (Manual Transmission)

The manual transmission is no longer popular, especially in modern cars, although a faulty clutch can cause your not to accelerate if your vehicle has it.

The clutch links the transmission (through the input shaft) and the engine (through the flywheel).

When the clutch becomes unable to hold anymore, it begins to slip off, this is like losing its grip on the flywheel, and it feels like you have pushed the clutch in.

This is a common occurrence at high speed under great acceleration. It will worsen as the clutch disk slips, burns out, and can only handle lesser torque.

5. Mass Air Flow Sensor Failure

The primary purpose of an airflow sensor can be derived from the name, and it is used to measure the amount of air that enters through the air intake.

The mass airflow sensor is attached to the air intake cleaner in most vehicles. A clogged or failing mass flow sensor can send the wrong signal to the engine ECU since there isn’t enough air in the engine.

This can be the reason why your car won’t accelerate but rpm goes up.

6. Malfunctioning TPS

TPS means a Throttle position sensor, and its main job is to detect how much angle the throttle valve is opened. In a nutshell, it is used for detecting how much pressure you have induced on your accelerator.

When there’s a problem with your TPS, it won’t be able to get information, your ECU won’t be able to read throttle position, and your vehicle will lose power.

7. Clogged Fuel Filter

Clogged Fuel Filter

The clogged air filter can be another reason why your car won’t accelerate but rpm goes up. Typically, a fuel filter will prevent anything other than fuel to pass through and go into the engine.

If it traps a lot of tiny particles (dirt, gunk, or sediment), eventually the engine won’t be able to receive any power, and this will cause your car not to accelerate. Therefore ensure your fuel filter is clean and free from dirt or gunk.

 8. Incorrect Air/Fuel Ratio

After examining your car and discovering that the problem is not because of the transmission, or if you have fixed the transmission, but the problem persists, the inability to accelerate may be due to a faulty intake system or fuel injection system.

In order for combustion to occur properly, the engine cylinder must have the right mixture of air and fuel. If the mass airflow sensor and air filter are not working, the engine will not receive adequate air to operate correctly.

Also, if your fuel pump or fuel injector is not functioning very well, the engine won’t get enough gas. Your vehicle won’t accelerate if it has this problem in most cases.

9. Bad Throttle Body

Modern cars now use a computer to control the amount of fuel added to the engine, based on how much fuel is sent to the cylinders.

In simple terms, one can say how much you press the gas pedal determines the amount of fuel added to the engine. The gas pedal controls the throttle body, determining the air that goes into the engine.

To open more throttle valves, you must add more pressure on the gas pedal; this will add more oxygen to the engine and more fuel to complement the air.

Therefore if your car’s throttle body is faulty or dirty with carbon sediments, you might find it challenging to get enough air to the engine, causing your car not to accelerate even if the rpm goes up.

10. Malfunctioning Engine Control Model

Have you exhausted all the options above? You may need an expert technician to check your engine control unit(ECU).

Since computers control modern cars, sometimes they can malfunction due to improper use, or they may need an upgrade or reset. A good technician will know what best to do to fix this.

Also Read: Car won’t start? Causes and How To Fix

What to Do if Your Car Won’t Accelerate, but Rpms Go Up.

Car Won’t Accelerate but RPM Goes Up

While we promote “Do it yourself” in most of our articles, it is worthy to note that transmission can be tricky because they are enormous in handling are found under the car.

Some of its internal components can be tricky to handle or repair; they are not easy as cleaning your car plug or something related; they are way complicated.

So we encourage you to get an expert who has a good understanding of transmissions to examine, detect the actual problem, and carefully fix it.

Also Read: Car Overheating When Idle? (Here Is What to Do)

Related Questions – Car Won’t Accelerate, but Rpms Go Up

Why Do My Rpms Go Up, but the Car Doesn’t Accelerate?

If your car won’t accelerate but rpm goes up, it is often a result of a faulty transmission or clogged air filters and not a problem with an engine. If you experience this issue, employ the services of an auto mechanic to diagnose and fix the issue properly.

Why Is My RPM High When Accelerating?

Transmission fluid acts as a coolant and helps in sending power to the transmission through the engine. As the transmission leaks, the fluid level falls, causing the gearbox band or torque converter to slip, causing the vehicle to rotate at a high level.

When I Press the Gas Pedal, It Won’t Accelerate?

When your car fuel filter becomes dirty or clogged, it will sometimes prevent fuel flow into the engine; this can also be associated with the fuel pump. A faulty fuel pump will not supply fuel to the injector. A leaking fuel line can also be why your car is not accelerating.

What Does Transmission Slipping Feel Like?

When you start to feel like your car is slow to respond, significantly when you change the gear, it’s a transmission slipping problem. The problem may also manifest as noises or a pitching change.

Can Transmission Cause a Car Not to Accelerate?

Yes, it can. Also, when an automotive transmission torque converter is faulty, it can cause poor acceleration. The most common transmission-related issues resulting in loss or poor acceleration are Internal automatic transmission failure.


If your car won’t accelerate but rpm goes up, it is often a result of a faulty transmission or clogged air filters and not a problem with an engine. If you experience this issue, employ the services of an auto mechanic to diagnose and fix the issue properly.

Allowing or ignoring this problem can lead to more devastating issues for your car engine. It is wise you fix this issue as soon as possible to avoid more damage.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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