Q: Engine stays running but no power at wheels

asked by on November 07, 2015

The engine in my 2011 Toyota Sienna doesn't stall, but no power goes to the wheels when I accelerate. Obviously, this is a frustrating problem. I almost got rear-ended because of it! What would cause this in a van with only 27,000 miles on it?

Greetings and thank you for writing in with this question! Problems like this can be difficult to diagnose. Does the Check Engine Light illuminate when the car loses power? If so, a local mechanic (like those with YourMechanic) can diagnose your engine hesitating during acceleration with a scan tool. Problems like this can be related to the Throttle Position Sensor (TPS), Electronic Control Unit (ECU), the transmission, or a mechanical engine failure. If there are no codes and the Check Engine light does not illuminate, the mechanic may need to perform data logging on the ECU to track down the problem. The condition of the engine air filter should be checked. If it is full of dirt and debris, the engine wouldn’t be getting enough air to run properly. The condition of the engine oil should be verified as well. If the engine oil is golden or brown in color, it is okay. If it black, sludgy, or smells foul, there could be an internal engine issue causing the problem.

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