Car won't accelerate when in Drive

About a month ago, I noticed a loss in power after already being driven for a while that day when coming out of a slow stop and pressing on the gas – it’s almost as if the car was in neutral, but was in drive. I’d let off the gas for a few seconds and then the car would drive normal again.

I took it into my mechanic who test drove it and couldn’t get the car to do what I was explaining, so it was hard to diagnose. He was able to pull an engine code for a secondary air pump and 2 misfires from the car, but nothing else. Said the transmission didn’t bring up any codes.

Fast forward to this week and my car will hardly accelerate at all when in drive or reverse. There was a loud noise associated with it, but after I topped off my oil, that noise went away. When i’m in park or neutral and accelerate, the car is fine and sounds totally normal, but the car isn’t drivable.

Any suggestions on where to start?

What do you mean by “topped off”? How low was it? If you added a substantial amount of oil, 2 quarts, maybe, you engine may have serious internal damage.

Is the Check Engine Light on when the engine is running?

In any event, it needs to go back to the mechanic. I’d say it needs to be towed. That intermittent problem is now a constant problem and it will be easier to diagnose for a mechanic standing over it. Impossible for us to diagnose over the internet with the information you’ve provided.

Good Luck

One of your brake calipers could start binding If the car doesn’t want to move or barely move in drive. Sometimes they start to stick after a few miles of driving . The easy way to test that is by feel…one of your wheel will be significantly hotter than the rest.

This sounds like a dying transmission to me. Is the transmission fluid at the correct level? If so, then you probably need to get this car to a good local transmission shop (not a chain).

As for the low oil, that’s probably a separate issue. As noted above, if you let it get too low too often, there could be engine damage, which seems likely if there was a bad noise that was fixed by adding oil.

1 Like

What year GTI, and is it a dual clutch automatic transmission? Also known as a DSG by some. With the little we know, I’m with lion9car.

Do the RPMs rise when you hit the gas, or does the engine choke? I’m confused because you talk about accelerating in park, which is impossible.

I had just put oil in the car maybe a month before this started happening, the oil was low, but not empty, I put 2 quarts in yesterday and that’s when the noise went away.

You need to pick one day of the week to check the oil level, I use Saturday myself. And I also think you have transmission problems.

2012 automatic

the car has given me a lot of problems — I did a full engine replacement last year, had to replace the catalytic converter shortly after, had to replace the thermostat (and water pump) twice already among a lot of other things.

I’m just trying to get the car to a driving condition so I can just trade it in.

Regarding the RPM’s I don’t believe so.

What I meant was, if the car is in park, and I step on the gas, the car seems fine, the problem is only when i’m in drive or reverse.

There is a TSB for both the engine and transmission for the 2012 VW GTI Auto. TSB #01-13-14
NHTSA ID #10052336 is the engine one related to a misfire and TSB #SB-1212 NHTSA ID #10071291 covers the trans. The DSG on that vehicle is not known as a troublemaker, but the problems you are describing sound an awful lot like a DSG gone wrong. Since the trouble codes point to misfire, I would suggest you investigate how the TSB for that is handled.

If you let the oil get low enough that you have to add 2 quarts you are risking serious damage to your engine. @VOLVO_V70 has a good suggestion on checking an a regular basis. I try to check mine once a week, usually Saturday morning. That way you can catch any oil drop soon.


I agree, but I didn’t know the car burned oil that fast. I almost feel like it’s not normal how often I need to add oil.

The low oil alert never came on, and the cars noise didn’t sound like it was low on oil, it was a noise i’d never heard before.

I have a video of it, but I don’t think I can upload videos here.

Someone may actually know but I don’t think you have a low oil alert. You may have an oil pressure warning light or gauge. But seriously at the price you had to pay for an engine do you really want to trust the lights again.

Is the transmission fluid level ok?