Your Trusted Auto Repair Shop for 40+ Years
Shop Talk Logo

Why is My RPM Jumping When Accelerating?

When your car is started, the pistons inside the engine begin moving up and down forcing the crankshaft to turn. Once the crankshaft has turned 360 degrees, it is referred to as a revolution. RPMs or Revolutions Per Minute, describes the number of times the crankshaft completes its rotation and the speed at which it does so. 

Vehicles operating with higher RPMs often demand more fuel and force the engine to work harder. If your engine is idling higher, due to an internal issue, your vehicle’s RPM may run higher. Learn what causes a vehicle’s RPMs to run high and why your RPMs are jumping when accelerating.

RPM Jumping When Accelerating

Causes of a Jumping RPM

  • Worn Spark Plugs or Spark Plug Wires

Spark plugs that are worn out struggle to ignite the fuel within the piston at the correct time. This can result in poor acceleration. Your vehicle may experience misfires and jerking while accelerating. Similarly, if spark plug wires or ignition coils have expired, the vehicle may experience a similar behavior to bad spark plugs.

  • Timing Trouble

A loose timing belt or one where not all teeth are connected, may prevent the engine from running or cause a rough idle. When valves are out of time, the intake and exhaust valves remain open when they should be closed, reducing compression. This forces the combustion gasses to go where they shouldn’t.

  • Dirty Fuel Injectors

Fuel injectors get clogged with dirt and other contaminants in fuel. When this occurs, acceleration can become jerky and may cause the car to lose power when attempting to accelerate from a stop or driving at a consistent speed. Your car may idle poorly and fuel economy will decline immensely. 

  • Dirty Air Filters

Your engine requires air to mix with fuel in order to complete the combustion process. The air filter’s job is to trap contaminants in the air from entering your engine and causing harm. Over time the air filter becomes clogged with dust, dirt, and other particles.

A clogged air filter prevents a steady flow of air from entering your engine. When this occurs, your vehicle will have difficulty accelerating. 

  • Vacuum Leak

Your vehicle is equipped with a maze of hoses to deliver fuel and air to the engine’s combustion chamber. A damaged, cracked, or loose vacuum hose can prevent either of these vital components from delivering the proper amount needed for combustion.

Your vehicle could experience running too rich, meaning too much fuel or too lean, too much air. 

  • Failed Idle Control Valve

This vital component is used to maintain a proper RPM while idling. The idle control valve adjusts the amount of air that is let into the throttle body when the throttle plate is closed. 

By doing so, it regulates the engine idle speed and upholds the speed despite activating engine-dependent changes such as activating the air conditioner. The idle control valve is critical when attempting to turn the engine over from a cold start.

Problems with this component will be more evident in that instance.RPM is Jumping When Accelerating

  • Transmission Troubles

Transmission fluid is essential to your transmission’s operation. In an automatic transmission, transmission fluid is used to lubricate, act as a coolant, as well as deliver power from the engine to the transmission.

When the transmission develops a leak and fluid levels fall, a vehicle will begin to rev at higher levels as a result of the gearbox band or torque converter slipping. 

The vehicle may also experience irregular or delayed gear shifting. A manual vehicle experiencing this difficulty may be related to a slipping clutch. A good indication that this is the case is a softer resistance in the clutch pedal as well as loss of power and difficulty maintaining speed.

Any of the issues above can cause your engine’s RPM to run high or jump inconsistently. High RPMs and struggling issues can have a negative effect on fuel consumption and place more strain on your engine. If your vehicle’s engine begins to rev to a higher RPM before a gear change during acceleration or experiences a jerking sensation, it’s time to take your vehicle to a repair center for a transmission inspection.

Sun Auto Service employs expert ASE Certified Technicians that specialize in engine and transmission repairs. A vehicle experiencing higher than normal RPMs or trouble idling should be inspected right away. You can be confident in the ability of our technicians. 

Whether a minor repair or a major overhaul, our technicians have the expertise to perform services properly. We guarantee our work in writing with a 2-year/24,000-mile Nationwide warranty and work as quickly as possible to get your vehicle back on the road.

For your next engine or transmission inspection, service, or repair, visit a Sun Auto Service near you.