Recent Blog Post

What Are the Causes of Loss of Power While Driving a Car?

Steven Matz
February 20, 2023 | Car Accident

Approximately 70 million vehicles break down each year. While car accidents due to mechanical failure are less common than those due to human error, your car breaking down in the middle of the road can still be a very scary and dangerous experience. You could have a serious accident if you cannot pull over safely.

To help avoid such situations, it is important to look for signs that your car needs maintenance beforehand. If you are in a car accident, however, and need help getting compensation for your injuries, do not hesitate to call the car accident lawyers at Matz Injury Law for help.

What Causes a Car to Lose Power While Driving?

You may be doing everything right as you drive along a roadway, but then your car suddenly loses power. You may not be able to accelerate quickly or stall out altogether. There are a number of causes for a car to lose power, including the following most common reasons.

Clogged Fuel Filter

Fuel filters (for gas or diesel engines) serve the role of preventing various dirt and debris from entering your car’s fuel lines and ultimately reaching the engine. At times, however, these filters can become clogged and not allow enough fuel to reach your car’s engine, negatively impacting its output.

Issues with Fuel Injector

Fuel injectors are what regulate the amount of fuel that reaches the combustion chamber. When dirt and debris reach these fuel injectors, clogging of the narrow nozzles can occur, preventing the efficient delivery of fuel to your car’s engine. When this happens, it decreases the engine’s performance ability.

Blocked or Clogged Catalytic Converter

A vehicle’s catalytic converter serves the role of breaking down harmful environmental pollutants before they can exit through the car’s exhaust system. When your car is slow to accelerate, it can be a sign of a clog or block of the catalytic converter.

Dirty or Clogged Exhaust Pipe

A car’s exhaust pipe is in place to remove engine fumes and limit the amount of pollution emitted from your car. When this process is limited or inefficient, it can result in a cut to engine power. A dirty exhaust pipe partially clogged with a build-up of soot or dirt can be the cause.

Bad Spark Plugs

Spark plugs provide the spark of electricity needed to cause the ignition of an air/fuel mixture within the engine, and this combustion creates the energy needed to power your vehicle. These ignition system plugs can become less effective for a number of reasons. As a result, a bad spark plug can lead to starter problems, poor acceleration, or misfiring.

Sensor Malfunctions

In today’s modern cars, beneficial sensors are in place to keep components efficient. They transmit signals to the car’s Engine Control Unit (ECU), and this makes them essential for maintaining a car’s power and performance. Two, in particular, are the oxygen sensor and the mass airflow sensor  (MAF).

Oxygen or MAF malfunctions

A MAF sensor measures air amounts needed to enter the fuel injection engine to cause acceleration. Oxygen sensors serve to measure the amount of gases that exit the engine. Ideally, for your car to be running efficiently, the MAF and oxygen sensor readings will match.

Malfunctions in either sensor can cause problems with your engine and lead to a substantial loss of power. Signs of malfunctioning sensors include jerks with acceleration, stalling, and the difficulty of the engine to start or turn over.

Other Mechanical Issues

In addition to the ones listed above, there are other mechanical issues that can lead to decreases in your car’s engine performance and power. These include:

  •     Faulty cylinder compression
  •     Bad fuel pump that is unable to deliver fuel to the fuel tank at high enough pressure
  •     Turbocharger issues
  •     Damaged or bad ignition coil
  •     Overheating cooling system
  •     Bad timing belt

Many of the interconnected parts that provide enough power to your car can malfunction. Determining which ones need repair or replacement will require a professional examination and testing by a qualified mechanic.

How Can Your Car Losing Power Lead to a Car Accident?

Mechanical issues are not often listed as the primary cause of car accidents, but they can be a contributing factor. For instance, you may be unable to accelerate fast enough to avoid an oncoming vehicle if your car is not performing at 100%. Worse, if your car breaks down, you can lose control of your vehicle and put yourself in a dangerous position.

You cannot always plan or even react quickly enough to the circumstances around you if your car loses power. Stalling out in traffic or dangerous locations, such as intersections or merging lanes, can be sudden. The vehicles around you may be unable to avoid hitting you as you attempt to restart your engine.

What Other Mechanical Issues Lead to Car Accidents?

a man changing his tires on his car

Even with all the safety standards in place today, modern vehicles can experience other mechanical issues that can lead to injury-causing car crashes.

Tire or Wheel Failures

One of the most common causes of auto accidents is tire or wheel failure. As tires age with wear and tear, they begin to lose their tread and grow thin. This wearing down can cause slipping and hydroplaning and require more time and distance to brake efficiently.

Tire blowouts can also occur due to a variety of reasons, including underinflation, overinflation, wear and tear, and punctures from roadway debris. When a blowout happens, the driver will typically lose control of the vehicle.

Brake Failure

As a driver, you depend on your brakes to slow or halt your car’s movement. Yet, brake failure is all too common and can result in a rear-end collision or other type of accident. Culprits that can cause your brakes to fail include leaks in the brake lines, excessive wear of brake pads and discs, and a malfunctioning Antilock Braking System (ABS).

Steering and Suspension Issues

Issues involving the steering and suspension system of a vehicle can cause the driver to struggle to maintain control. You may experience signs that these issues are beginning, or they can arise suddenly. Being unable to steer your car away from danger can lead to crashes with severe injuries.

Broken Headlights or Taillights

When headlights or taillights are broken, your car is less visible to others at night or in other times of low visibility. As a result, you are more susceptible to being hit by another vehicle. Also, when headlights are not efficient, you lose visibility ahead of you and may run into objects in the roadway.

Faulty Windshield Wipers

While often taken for granted, consider how much you depend on functioning windshield wipers when it rains or dust coats the outer layer. When faulty, they can limit your visibility and result in a crash.

How to Prevent Car Accidents Due to Mechanical Failure

Staying proactive in maintaining your car can help prevent car accidents due to mechanical failure from occurring. To provide the best chances for your car to maintain power and performance, here are some tips.

  •     Maintain a regular schedule for preventive service and maintenance as outlined in your manufacturer’s guidebook.
  •     Use specialized cleaners and additives to maintain each part of the fuel system.
  •     Identify and replace faulty spark plugs as soon as possible.
  •     Undergo engine diagnostics to detect faulty sensors and replace as needed.
  •     When you notice problems with acceleration, schedule an appointment with your mechanic to diagnose any problems. You may have malfunctioning sensors, fuel system blockage, fuel pump failure, bad ignition coil, or another mechanical issue.
  •     Check your braking system often.
  •     Undergo regular emissions tests to determine if your catalytic converter is functioning properly.
  •     Replace a dirty air filter.
  •     Undergo regular checks of oil levels, steering system fluid, and other engine fluids.
  •     Check tire tread and amount of air pressure often.
  •     Replace windshield wipers periodically and check that your headlights and taillights work properly.
  •     Never ignore a check engine light.

What Should I Do If My Car Does Break Down in the Middle of the Road?

Woman looking at her phone after her car broke down

While no one likes to think about it, your car can lose power at anytime, anywhere. If it breaks down in the middle of the road, here are steps you should take.

Turn on Your Hazard Lights

Make your car more visible and alert other drivers to your breakdown by turning on your hazard lights. Leave these on until emergency responders arrive.

Get to Safety

Being stuck in the middle of a road is a dangerous place to be, even with your hazard lights flashing. Look for oncoming vehicles, and, if possible, exit the car and move to a safe location away from your vehicle. This way, if a vehicle fails to see your car in time and hits it, you will be out of harm’s way.

Make Yourself Visible

To aid other drivers in seeing and avoiding your car, make it as visible as possible. Prop open the hood. If you have reflector triangles or flares, use these if safe to do so. Also, make yourself visible by wearing a reflective vest.

Get Help

Contact roadside assistance if you have it, or seek a mechanic or tow truck. If an emergency exists, contact the authorities via 911 and wait at the scene for their arrival.

Can I Sue the Manufacturer for a Malfunctioning Car Part?

If your car loses power while driving due to the failure or mechanical malfunction of a part, an accident can occur and cause serious injuries. You may potentially be able to sue the manufacturer for that defective part. To do so, you will need an experienced product liability lawyer to provide legal advice and represent you in your lawsuit.

To win a product liability lawsuit, Michigan law requires that two essential elements be proven. The first element is that the particular product or part that malfunctioned was unsafe or dangerous when it left the actual manufacturer’s control. This unsafe or dangerous state may be the result of a defective design or a manufacturing error.

The second element is to show that an alternative way of production and design would have prevented the injury from occurring. To accomplish this, your attorney will need to find expert witnesses, such as an engineer or product designer, to present an alternative design that is safe for use.

Proving these two elements come with challenges and are often difficult. You will need to seek the help of an experienced attorney to build your claim, compile evidence, identify expert witnesses, and represent you and your loved ones.

Filing a personal injury claim will also require time and persistence. Seeking the help of a car accident attorney with knowledge of product liability law will be advantageous to your case and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

The Power of Hiring a Car Accident Attorney

When an auto accident occurs, whether due to a mechanical failure or negligence on the part of another driver, you deserve legal representation that you can trust. Our law firm can help you sue the at-fault party in your car or truck accident and provide legal advice for other factors surrounding your accident, as well. Learn how a car accident attorney can help collect compensation after a motor vehicle collision by contacting our office at 1-866-22Not33 or by using our convenient online contact form. Schedule a free consultation today.

steven matz headshot

Written By Steven Matz

Founding Shareholder

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury.

The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 331/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.

What does 22not33 mean, exactly?

We can charge 22% while virtually all other injury attorneys charge 331/3% because we are very, very, good at obtaining results for our clients.

We do not spend millions of dollars on television ads; instead, we offer a lower fee to all our clients. We do not have dozens of lower paid associates handling our work. All our clients are represented by Steven and Jared Matz. Steven Matz started the firm in 1977 and since then has dedicated his life to representing injury victims. Jared joined the firm in 2016 but grew up listening to stories, discussing theories, and generally learning at the dinner table about how to effectively and compassionately represent injury victims. Jared Matz was literally born to represent individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes.

All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee and all our cases are handled at 22%. Whether the case settles or goes through trial, the fee does not change. While our competitors make excuses as to why they charge so much, we are obtaining results for our clients at a lower fee.

At a typical television advertising law firm, your first call will be handled by a receptionist, who may refer you to an intake person, who will discuss your claim with an intake manager, who then discusses your claim with an associate, who may then report to a partner. You may never speak with the person whose name is at the top of the letterhead. At Matz Injury Law you will always speak with either Steven Matz or Jared Matz.