Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Car would rev and speedometer would increase but tires wouldn't move

Yesterday morning I pulled out of my parking lot and my car started acting like it was on a sheet of ice, which is what I thought at first because it was very slippery out. When I stepped on the gas my engine would rev and the numbers would increase on my speedometer but the two front tires would not be spinning. When I took the foot off the gas it would idle and move slightly forward, as it normally would. I was able to have it move slowly to the side of the road. In a few hours, I went back out and it worked fine. Any thoughts?

PS- No recent bumps, accidents. Etc.

Is this a standard transmission? Could be clutch or transmission related.

If it’s an automatic, it’s possible that the shift linkage is out of whumpus and the tranny was actually in Neutral when the shifter was in Drive.

Actually, I suppose the same could be true if it was a manual.

1 Like

How do you know the front tires weren’t spinning?


The speedo moves? The speed sensor says something is turning?

If you are concluding that tge right front tire was not spinning just because the left one wasn’t, you could be mistaken. If one front tire is spinning on a Civic, no force is being transmitted to the other one.

1 Like

I leaned out the car to look to see if the tire was spinning and it wasnt. The speedomterer mph went up as I stepped on the gas. I am not sure if the right one was spinning but the car should have moved somewhat if it was, no?

And it is an automatic.

If on glare ice the right one could have been spinning with no movement.

The reason we’re thinking that’s the problem is the speedometer moving. Most other problems wouldn’t have the speedometer move.


I agree. If the shift linkage was in neutral, the speedo wouldn’t be moving. For some reason I was thinking the tachometer rather than the speedo.

That’s a very weird symptom. If once the problem started it never went away I’d guess a problem with one of the drive axles. But since it is now working fine, the most likely explanation is that the other front wheel that you couldn’t see was spinning, presumably on ice. If there was no snow or ice at the time, just dry pavement, no clue. Next time it happens try to find someone who can look at the other front wheel.

You have witnessed the ramifications of a car with an open differential with one drive wheel having no traction. Perfectly normal and expected.

Here’s an excellent video on the topic. Your front wheel drive car’s differential looks different on the outside and doesn’t translate motion 90°, but the rest is the same.

Just wondering if you ever figured out the issue as I am experiencing the same issue with my 2007 Honda civic LX manual transmission

In slippery conditions or dry?

Dry conditions

OK, does the car go at all?
If not, and the speedo does jump with the tach, then my first guess is a broken drive shaft or differential.