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.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

What others are asking

Occasional shaking and sluggishness while accelerating

If your vehicle is shaking and losing power, the most likely cause is fuel or ignition system related. I would recommend having the fuel pressure checked by a qualified professional to determine whether or not the fuel pressure is within...

Car jerks

The problem is inside the transmission with pressures or shift solenoids and will need to have a transmission expert test and diagnose it to isolate the cause.

Ticking when car starts up but then fades away after minutes.

Hi there. Sometimes an engine will tick when it's first starting due to a lack of lubrication on top of the motor. The ticking sound is commonly caused by opening and closing valves or rocking arms. This could mean the...

Start up is okay. Blue smoke, rough idle, and stalling. Cannot rev motor. (2002 Nissan Elgrand)

The blue smoke is due to oil leaking into the combustion chambers. The cause can vary from fairly easy to fix worn out valve stem oil seals to more costly faults such as leaking piston rings or head gasket failures....

I just bought a new battery, but periodically, my car would not start, this was in late winter.

You may be right about some kind of drain, or it could be that the alternator is functioning, but is weak. Either way a charging system test should reveal the problem. A technician can hook an ammeter up to the...

My car want accelerate and my engine light is constantly blinking on and off

Hello. A misfire under load is typically caused by a problem in the secondary ignition system (i.e. plugs, wires, coil pack). This will also cause your Check Engine Light to flash. The powertrain control module (PCM) directly controls coil operation,...

How do I select a USB file?

When playing music from a USB device through the sound system, there are two ways to select a file: Rotate the TURN-Scroll knob to the desired file. Use the up and down arrows on the Seek Track button to...

2012 toyota highlander limited: Alarm often goes off without reason, even when I am in the car with the keys.

Load test the vehicle battery. Sometimes when a battery is on the verge of failure, the resulting voltage drop "fools" the vehicle alarm system as this voltage drop is interpreted by the computer as tampering. If the battery passes the...

2003 Toyota Camry. Car still overheating after changing fan assembly, cooling temp sensor, and thermostat. Need help.

Be sure not to drive the car if it is overheating because overheating can warp the cylinder head and/or engine block causing costly damage. In addition to the items you have already serviced, the most common causes of overheating include...

Related articles

P0247 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Wastegate Solenoid B Malfunction
P0247 P0247 code definition The P0247 code indicates that there is a turbocharger wastegate solenoid B malfunction. What the P0247 code means When the P0247 code appears on your vehicle, it means that the powertrain control module has found readings...
P2635 OBD-II Trouble Code: Fuel Pump ‘A’ Low Flow / Performance
P2635 P2635 Code Definition A P2635 code is a generic powertrain code related to computer output circuit issues. It means that the fuel pump 'A’ is registering a low flow, or one not within the preset parameters. Codes related to...
P0138 OBD-II Trouble Codes: O2 Sensor Circuit High Voltage (Bank 1, Sensor 2)
P0138 code definition O2 Sensor Circuit High Voltage (Bank 1, Sensor 2) What the P0138 code means P0138 is the OBD-II generic...