Jeep Wrangler Sputtering On Acceleration – Possible Reason

If you are like me when you step on the gas you want your Jeep Wrangler to move. When you step on the gas and the engine sputters or the Jeep hardly responds you know that something is not right.

The most common cause of sputtering when you accelerate is your fuel. If you have bought some watery fuel then that is likely your cause.

Reasons why your Jeep Wrangler might Sputter on Acceleration

Man Fixing Vehicle Engine

Bad Gasoline

Bad gasoline will make your car engine spit and sputter. You will even encounter times when bad gas can cause the engine to stop running. 

If your Jeep has suddenly started to sputter when you give it the gas the fuel you have in it could be the reason.

Other symptoms of watery or bad fuel include:

  • The engine is hard to get to crank
  • It idles roughly
  • The engine stalls when you stop or have the vehicle idling
  • You hear pinging noises that are not normal
  • The check engine light has come on
  • You are using more gas than you should

What To Do If You Suspect Bad Fuel

If you think you have a tank of fuel that has water or some other contaminant in it the best solution is to drain the tank of fuel and then refill it with high-grade fuel.

You can try pouring a product designed to remove water from a gas into the tank, but there is no guarantee that this will solve your problem.

Avoid buying bad fuel

There are a few things you can do to prevent a tank of watery or bad fuel from being pumped into your Jeep.

  • Buy your fuel at the same location every time. Use the same fuel stop on a regular basis.
  • Do not use gas that has been stored in a container for a long time.
  • If the station runs out of fuel do not be first in line to buy fuel after they receive a shipment.

Air Filter Problems

Jeep Wrangler on a trail

The air filter is a critical component that stops dust and grime from getting into the delicate systems of your car. Air filters trap dust and small particles and hold them so they do not get into your systems.

Air filters must be regularly cleaned or changed because over time they trap so many pieces of small trash and dust that they get clogged and can no longer let air flow through them.

Manufacturers recommend that you clean your Jeep Wrangler air filter at least every 15,000 miles. If you frequently drive off-road through lots of dust and dirt roads change or clean your air filter more often.

Vacuum Leaks

Vacuum leaks cause your car’s engine to spit and sputter. They can also prevent the car from accelerating properly. A lot of times when a vacuum leak is a cause the engine will stall completely when you try to accelerate.

When your vehicle starts to suddenly stop responding correctly to the accelerator then you need to lift the hood and investigate your vacuum hoses and see if they are connected tightly and if they are still in good condition.

Over time the materials that are used to create vacuum hoses, gaskets, and other components under your hood can rot and deteriorate. Make a habit of checking them every 6 months to see if you need to replace the old with something new.

Spark Plugs

Spark Plugs
Photo Credit:

If your spark plugs are losing power due to age your vehicle may not accelerate the way you think that it should. Spark plugs are sensitive pieces of equipment and over time the gap in the plugs gets wider and carbons build up that stops them from working properly.

If the plugs are causing your problems they are easy to replace, and most people do this without going to an auto repair shop.

Leaks in the Exhaust Manifold or Faulty Manifold Gasket

A slight leak in the exhaust manifold changes the levels of oxygen in the exhaust and your vehicle can sputter and run very rough. 

If you do have a leak in your manifold or a crack in it there is a chance that the heat that escapes from the manifold could cause nearby items that are made of plastic to melt or disintegrate. This could cause some major engine malfunctions.

The exhaust fumes could also travel inside the vehicle cabin and cause irritation or dangerous breathing scenarios for the occupants of the vehicle.

Worn Seals

The exhaust system of your vehicle has several seals and gaskets in place that help different components of the engine to function properly. If your seals or gaskets start to wear they allow air in to places where it is not needed and they interfere with the air to fuel ratio.

Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter can cause your engine to sputter and be slow to accelerate. Most of the time when the catalytic converter is the cause of your problem with acceleration you will smell something that reminds you of rotten eggs.

These converters break down sulfur that is made by the engine and that is why you get the odor of rotten eggs when they are not working right.

A failing catalytic converter should also trigger the check engine light on the dash panel to illuminate.

Loud noises and unusual vibrations may also occur when the catalytic converter is dying.

O2 Sensor

The O2 or mass airflow sensor is responsible for telling the engine when the oxygen levels in the exhaust are too high or too low. A change in the oxygen in the exhaust indicates that the air to fuel ratio needs to be adjusted.

A failing sensor can send the wrong information to the computer and the result will be too much air or not enough air in the fuel and the car will stall, vibrate, sputter, or fail to respond to the accelerator.

Related Articles
1. Jeep Wrangler White Smoke on Startup
2. Jeep Wrangler Water Leak When It Rains
3. How Much Weight Can a Jeep Hardtop Support?
4. Jeep Wrangler Steering Locked Up Stiff While Driving


How Fast Should My Jeep Wrangler Accelerate?

A Jeep Wrangler is capable of going from 0 to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds. 

Should My Jeep Jump Or Lurch When I Accelerate?

When you accelerate there should be no jumping or lurching. The engine should respond smoothly and you should begin to gain speed.

If I Clean My Fuel Injectors Will My Jeep Wrangler Accelerate Better?

If the fuel injectors are dirty it can interfere with the acceleration response of the engine.

Final Thoughts

When your Jeep is not accelerating the way you think it should it is an indication that something is not just right. Stay calm and work through each possible cause starting with the least invasive like dirty fuel or a clogged air filter. If you cannot locate the cause take the vehicle to a certified Jeep mechanic and let them run diagnostic tests on it.

About Brendan Burnett

Leave a Comment