Chevrolet is a vehicle manufacturer well known for making high-quality vehicles. Their primary truck, the Silverado, isn’t known for losing power often. When it does, it can be a frustrating situation. But what is the most common reason your truck is losing power while accelerating?
Typically, your vehicle can lose power while accelerating due to a faulty battery. Bad car batteries need replacement every five years, so check for any apparent damage. You can test your battery at any local auto shop.
While bad batteries are the most common reason, there are many other reasons your car can lose power while it drives. In the rest of this article, we will go through some additional explanations.
Eight Reasons Your Car Starts To Die When Driving
- Bad fuel filter
- Poor cylinder compression
- Bad air filter
- Clogged exhaust filters
- Clogged fuel injectors
- Faulty fuel pump
- Bad spark plugs
- Sensor malfunctions
#1: Bad Fuel Filter
Your combustion engine needs clean fuel to ignite its contents properly. If your engine cannot process clean energy properly, it will begin to malfunction and sputter.
As part of your regular maintenance schedule, you should clean your fuel filter every two years. If you don’t, you risk damaging your engine so that it will not work correctly anymore.
Here are some other signs that you have a bad fuel filter:
- Bad engine performance
- Other parts of your fuel system fail
- Engine misfires
- Hard starting and stalling
#2: Low Compression
Much like any vehicle, your Chevy Silverado runs on a compression engine that forces air throughout the vehicle. The air typically reaches your combustion engine in high quantities due to the air pressure inside of your car.
If your vehicle does not have good compression, that means that your combustion engine will not receive an adequate amount of air. This will result in the following issues:
- Engine misfires
- Loss of power (engine turning off in the middle of the road)
- The car will not start.
- Bad fuel economy
In extreme cases, low cylinder compression can lead to a blown head gasket. Just the sound of that can be terrifying, so don’t waste time getting to a local auto shop.
#3: Bad Air Filter
Much like your fuel filter, your air filter cleans the air that travels to your combustion engine. This ensures that small particles do not reach your car. That means if you do not clean your air filter regularly, debris will begin to enter your engine cylinders.
Small engine impurities lead to the following symptoms:
- Engine misfiring
- Bad fuel economy
- Unusual noises
- Check engine light turns on
- Black soot escaping the exhaust
- Gasoline smell when starting the car
If you find any of these symptoms, pull out your air filter to see if it has a grey colour. If you own a Chevy Silverado and want to know how to replace your air filter, check out the following video:
#4: Clogged Exhaust Filters
Once processed through the engine, the remaining fumes from your fuel-air mixture go through the exhaust port. Given these fumes are toxic, they must be processed and purified by the catalytic converter and the muffler.
If you have a clogged filter in your exhaust pipe, that will prevent your vehicle from working harder. That means when you try and put more pressure on the engine by going uphill, your vehicle will die on the way there.
If your catalytic converter is bad, expect the following symptoms:
- The smell of rotten eggs or sulfur
- Poor acceleration and engine performance
- Black smoke coming from the exhaust
- The engine is running hot.
Many of the same problems come up if you have a bad muffler.
#5: Clogged Fuel Injectors
As the engine uses your gas, one of the first stops it has to make is your fuel injectors. So that means if you have dirty fuel injectors, your gasoline won’t be able to get there effectively.
To be appropriately processed, fuel injectors must have a specific spray pattern. When you have a clog, that spray pattern doesn’t coat the combustion chamber properly. This can be more problematic in low fuel quality situations, which is concerning in both regular gasoline and diesel engines.
Here are some common symptoms of a dirty fuel injection system:
- Misfiring engine
- Car is rough when idling
- Your RPM needle is sporadic
- Your car won’t start
- Your fuel economy gets bad
- Check engine light is on
#6: Faulty Fuel Pump
A failing fuel pump shows itself with greater extremes as you drive your vehicle uphill. Without it, your fuel cannot be delivered to the combustion chambers with excellent efficiency. The result is a car that does well when idling but dies under pressure.
This can happen if you use the wrong kind of fuel. For example, some Chevrolet vehicles only use diesel, while others only use unleaded. Sometimes vehicles can be so picky to need super unleaded.
Below are some signs of a bad fuel pump:
- Engine runs hot
- Bad fuel efficiency
- Acceleration dips (or increases) randomly
- The car begins to make a sputtering sound
- Your vehicle won’t start
#7: Bad Spark Plugs
As your vehicle ages, the gap between the spark plug and the rest of the engine tends to increase. If the gap gets too wide (or your spark plug gets dirty), the spark between your plug and engine will not be able to make the jump.
Bad spark plugs can lead to issues in your ignition system. This will prevent your combustion chamber from igniting correctly. Below are the most common symptoms:
- Poor fuel economy
- Misfiring engine
- Acceleration is slow
- The vehicle isn’t easy to start.
Choosing to drive with busted spark plugs will cause engine damage. So regardless of how good your Chevy is, you need to get them replaced.
#8: Sensor Malfunctions (O2 Sensor, Camshaft Position Sensor, Crankshaft Sensor, etc.)
There are a considerable amount of sensors located inside of your vehicle. If we list them all out here, we could fill out the rest of this article. Just know that any of your sensors fail may cause your vehicle to overcompensate or undercompensate the vehicle load.
Let’s list out their uses below:
- O2 sensors control the amount of oxygen going into your fuel/air mix. When they fail, the wrong amount of oxygen will be delivered to your car.
- Your camshaft position sensor controls the ignition and the timing of your fuel injection system working. Without it, your engine’s power will not be enough, and your fuel mix will provide below.
- The crankshaft sensor calculates the speed of your engine based on data from the computer. Without it, the vehicle won’t rotate (and generate power) at the right place.
- The MAF sensor (Mass Air Flow sensor) senses the amount of air entering your vehicle at any given time. When it malfunctions, your fuel mixture is off.
How Much Does It Cost To Make Any Power Loss Related Repairs?
- Depending on where you go, a fuel filter replacement can cost anywhere from $50 to $200 for parts and labour.
- Replacing a vacuum hose (which is the common cause for compression issues) costs $15 for parts, with another $50 for labour.
- An air filter’s replacement cost is about $30, with an additional $40 for labour.
- Repairing a clogged catalytic converter is hugely expensive, getting as high as $2500. Replacing a muffler is far more reasonable, as that is anywhere from $100 to $500.
- Fuel injectors are also pretty expensive, with costs going as high as $1500 for parts and labour.
- If you own a Chevy Silverado, expect to pay about $900 for a fuel pump. Other chevy vehicles are a couple of hundred dollars lower.
- The cost to replace your spark plugs should not exceed $160, even with labour.
- The cost to replace can be cheap or extreme depending on what you need to replace.
Car Power Loss FAQs
Why Is My Truck Losing Power When Going Uphill?
If the issue is related to a truck, there are two areas to keep in mind:
The first area of concern relates to the type of fuel you use. Several people think that every truck uses diesel when it uses unleaded. If you ask your Prius-driving friend, they might make that mistake.
The second area of concern relates to your truck’s load limitations. Check your owner’s manual to see if you have overdone it. Also, if your suspension looks a bit low, that means you have overdone it.
Why Does My Car Lose Power When It Gets Warm?
This is typically related to a lack of coolant flow coming from your engine. Check to see if your antifreeze container has enough in it. If it doesn’t, top it off and try to run your engine after giving it time to cool off.
You may also have other malfunctioning parts of your vehicles. Heating issues can be caused by insufficient air pressure, a bad fuel pump, or various other problems. In this case, take your car to a Chevrolet dealership to ensure qualified service.
Are There Any Other Causes For Reduced Engine Power In A Chevy Silverado?
There are many issues related to faulty wiring, a bad wiring harness, or a bad throttle position sensor. You could even find a blown a fuse, but that typically leads to a more specific car issue.
Several years ago, it may have been simpler to diagnose issues with your vehicle. Invest in a code reader to simplify the process.
Does A Diesel Engine Have Any Unique Reasons For Losing Power?
Any of the issues listed above apply to a diesel engine. There is nothing unique about it. You should be worried about diesel if you placed unleaded fuel into a tank, which will cause major engine issues.
If your Chevy truck loses power while accelerating, there are many reasons behind why it could be. To find the answer, check out the various reasons we listed in the above guide. If you want to make a DIY repair, just be sure you stay safe by keeping the parking brake on, battery disconnected, and immobilizers under the tires.