What to Do When Your Car Loses Power But the Engine is Still Running

Has this ever happened to you? You’re driving along and suddenly your car loses power, but the engine keeps running? It’s an unsettling situation that can leave you feeling stuck and frustrated on the side of the road.

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There are a few different reasons why a car might lose power while the engine continues to run. Knowing the potential causes can help you troubleshoot the issue and get your vehicle running properly again.

Potential Causes:

  1. Transmission Issues
    One of the most common reasons for a car losing power is a problem with the transmission. The transmission is responsible for transferring the engine’s power to the wheels. Issues like low transmission fluid, slipping gears, or a failed solenoid can prevent that power from reaching the wheels properly.
  2. Broken CV Joints/Axles
    The CV (constant velocity) joints connect the axles to the wheels and allow them to rotate at an angle. If a CV joint or axle breaks, it disrupts the transfer of power from the transmission to the wheels, causing a loss of power.
  3. Broken Timing Belt/Chain
    The timing belt or chain synchronizes the opening and closing of the engine’s valves with the movement of the pistons. If it breaks, the engine will not be able to run properly and will lose power or stall completely.
  4. Clogged Fuel Filter
    A severely clogged fuel filter can restrict the flow of fuel to the engine, causing it to lose power under acceleration or struggle at higher RPMs.
  5. Electrical Issues
    Problems with sensors, wiring, or the engine computer can cause misfires or disrupt the engine timing, resulting in a loss of power.

What to Do:

If your car loses power but is still running, remain calm and take the following steps:

  1. Safely pull over as soon as possible and put your hazard lights on.
  2. Note any sounds, smells, or warning lights that might offer clues to the problem.
  3. Don’t continue driving if it doesn’t feel safe. Call for a tow truck if needed.
  4. Try restarting the engine after letting it cool down for a bit.
  5. If it’s safe to do so, pop the hood and inspect components like belts, fluid levels, and electrical connections for any obvious issues.
  6. If you can’t identify the cause, have your vehicle towed to a trusted repair shop for diagnosis and repair.

A sudden loss of power can be unnerving, but staying safe should be the top priority. Pay attention to your car’s symptoms to help identify the root cause and get your vehicle back on the road quickly.

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