If you’re like most car owners, you probably take your vehicle for granted. You get in, turn the key, and off you go. But what happens when your car engine starts sputtering? Suddenly, you’re faced with a big problem that needs to be fixed. So what’s causing your engine to act up – and more importantly, how can you fix it? Keep reading to find out!
14 Reasons For Sputtering Engine While Accelerating
Do you have a car that has an issue starting up, sputtering when accelerating, or a check engine light on? There can be several underlying issues to those problems. Luckily for you, we’ve compiled the most common reasons and solutions to those problems.
Basically, several issues can cause the same symptoms as engine hesitation.
- Dirty Air Filter
- Foul Spark Plugs
- Throttle Problems
- Dirty Fuel Injector
- Dirty Mass Airflow Sensor
- Dirty Fuel Filter
- Faulty Coolant Temperature Sensor
- Idle Air Control Motor
- Low or Contaminated Fuel
- Ignition Coil Failure
- Bad Oxygen Sensor
- Weak Fuel Pump
- Failing Catalytic Converter
- Vacuum Leak
Let us see these reasons for engine sputtering in detail:
1. Dirty Air Filter
You might have a dirty air filter. A clogged air filter will cause a car to have trouble accelerating. A dirty air filter can also contaminate your fuel, causing the car to sputter when accelerating.
2. Foul Spark Plugs
Your spark plugs might require replacement if they are worn out. Worn-out spark plugs can cause stalling issues, especially when you start up the vehicle because the engine is cold.
Even though it’s a cheap and easy job, you should only attempt to replace your plugs if they are in the earlier stages of wear. Otherwise, take the car to your mechanic for this service.
3. Throttle Problems
Throttle issues could be causing your car to sputter. A weak or dirty throttle position sensor can cause problems when accelerating and should be looked at if you have any trouble in this area.
If it is not closing properly, then air will escape through this opening without being properly filtered by the MAF sensor.
4. Dirty Fuel Injectors
Your fuel injectors might need to be cleaned. Fuel injector cleaning is a job that should only be done by an experienced mechanic. Cleaning them yourself can void any warranty on your car, but if they are really dirty, it’s time for a service anyway.
Replacing your fuel injectors can solve hesitation issues when accelerating. If you have hesitation on acceleration or when going up hills, it might be time to replace your fuel injectors. A mechanic can help you with this service.
5. Dirty Mass Airflow Sensor
A bad airflow sensor can also cause hesitation on acceleration. This component measures the amount of air getting into the engine while it is idling and accelerating; if failed, you will notice that the car is very reluctant to accelerate or go uphill.
These sensors are usually not damaged because of wear and tear but because of the quality of fuel that’s being put into the car. High-quality fuels prevent deposits from building up inside the MAF sensor and protect it from failing.
A bad one can be a pain to replace yourself, so take your car to a mechanic if you’re not sure how to solve the problem.
6. Dirty Fuel Filter
Replacing your fuel filter can sometimes fix the problem. If you have a new car, this might be a good time to replace your fuel filter as well. This is a cheap and easy job that might solve your stalling problems.
7. Faulty Coolant Temperature Sensor
Your car’s coolant temperature sensor could also be causing hesitation on acceleration. In some cases, when these parts fail, they can cause the car to misfire under acceleration, especially when cold. Replacing these common parts is usually a good idea if you experience any hesitation on acceleration.
8. Idle Air Control Motor
Your car might have problems with its idle air control motor. This component regulates the amount of air that enters the engine while it is idling, and a failed one will prevent your car from starting or cause it to idle roughly. If you experience this issue, your car’s check engine light might also turn on.
9. Low or Contaminated Fuel
Low or contaminated fuel can cause hesitation and trouble idling. If there isn’t enough octane in the gasoline that you put into the car, the car will be unable to determine how much fuel is needed for smooth idling.
If the car runs out of fuel during idling or runs too lean, it can cause your car to misfire and sputter.
10. Ignition Coil Failure
A failed ignition coil can cause hesitation when accelerating. If one or more of these coils fail, it will prevent the spark plugs from delivering enough spark for smooth acceleration, and the engine will misfire.
Replacing this part is a job that should be left to a mechanic because it’s not easy to get at without taking off other parts.
11. Bad Oxygen Sensor
You might have a bad oxygen sensor that needs to be replaced. If your car keeps stalling, it might need an O2 sensor replacement.
This is usually not something you can fix yourself, but if done by professionals, it shouldn’t cost too much. Your mechanic can also help you with this service.
12. Weak Fuel Pump
Your car’s fuel pump might need to be replaced. If your stalling is getting worse over time, the fuel pump might be bad and not properly delivering gas to the engine.
This usually happens because of a clogged filter or some other problem in the delivery system. Replacing it is an easy and cheap task and should be left to a professional.
13. Failing Catalytic Converter
Replacing your faulty catalytic converter can solve hesitation issues on acceleration. This part gets clogged up very easily with engine deposits, and when it does, it inhibits normal fuel combustion, and the engine will misfire.
If you experience a hesitation when accelerating, it might be time to have your catalytic converter replaced.
14. Vacuum Leak
If there is a leak in the engine intake system, it will negatively impact the engine performance. In the same way, an exhaust leak can also cause car sputtering. You must check for leakage in exhaust seals if your engine sputters.
If the seals are fine, you might have a deeper problem with some important components. And in order to know the root cause of the sputtering problem, you would need to visit an auto repair shop.
If your car’s engine sputters, you should not ignore it because this could lead to further damage. An engine that is running rough will not go faster than 10 mph because it sputters and stalls. It has a noticeable shaking caused by disruptions in the air-fuel mixture inside the cylinder of your car.
A faulty oxygen sensor mostly causes the sputtering engine problem, but it can also be caused by a leaky fuel injector, clogged catalytic converter, and dirty throttle body. In short, you can say that the problem lies with your car’s fuel system.
If you receive an error code from your car diagnostic computer, you should see the repair manual for your vehicle or refer to a mechanic who knows how to repair cars in your area.
He will be able to fix the problem professionally and within a short time. You can find all relevant data in order to make the right diagnosis, such as check engine light error codes online or in your car repair manual.
Frequently Asked Question
How long can you ignore the sputtering of the engine?
It depends on the level of engine sputtering. If the engine sputtering is mild, you can ignore it for some time. However, if it is sputtering too much, you should not even drive a single mile to avoid further damage to the engine components.
Can a choked exhaust manifold cause the engine to sputter?
Yes, a choked exhaust manifold can cause the engine to sputter. If your car’s exhaust system is not working correctly, neither will your engine. A choked exhaust manifold will not allow smooth flow of combustion gases, this may cause the engine to sputter.
How can you troubleshoot a sputtering engine?
If you want to troubleshoot this problem yourself, you should follow these instructions:
- Let the engine run with your foot off the accelerator pedal for about five minutes. This will allow it to achieve operating temperature.
- Start the car again and let it idle in park or neutral with your foot on the brake in order to make sure that it stays in one place.
- Remove the air intake hose and look into its opening. If you notice unburnt fuel, this could be your problem. Clean the area around the air intake hose.
- Check for vacuum leaks by applying a soap solution to all hoses and lines that run from the air intake. Bubbles will show you where the leaks are.
- Start replacing parts until your fix the problem because this can be cheaper than taking it to a mechanic. Replacing every part is not necessary, only those that could be involved with the problem.