2002 Buick Regal Engine Runs Bad and Won’t Get On Freeway

Reader Question

Hello Austin

I have an 02 Buick Regal, that has been serviced regularly every 3000 miles oil changes etc, has 74,000 miles on it. Has been well cared for. I noticed yesterday afternoon that my car was acting funny about accelerating, getting on the freeway etc. It would cough or the rpms would go up but the speedometer wouldn’t.

Passing is not in my near future either. It acts like the gas is not getting to it or maybe I have some bad gas? I put an octane booster in it this am, along with some Slick 50 engine treatment. Today at lunch I did not go very far, but I didn’t attempt to get on the freeway.

I will have to tonight. Do you think maybe I just got some bad gas? Or maybe the fuel filter is clogged? Would this cause a problem like this? Im a single mom, and Im not terribly dumb when it comes to car problems, but this one has me stumped.
Thank you
Ricki D

Yo Ricki!

Thanks for your email. Sounds like you got a sick car on your hands. You mentioned that the RPM’s would increase, but the speedometer would NOT. If this is the case, this tells me that the engine is probably getting enough fuel, but either the transmission is slipping, or there could be an engine misfire taking place causing the sputter and cough.

I would first check the transmission fluid level and top off with new fluid if needed. If the transmission is low on fluid it will cause it to slip, and the RPMS will increase but the vehicle will not go anywhere. Low transmission fluid levels will NOT cause a cough, or other engine running problem though, but I would check and rule out this possibility first.

Second thing that comes to mind is a bad spark, spark plug wire or ignition coil. Here is a simple test you can do yourself to see if there is a problem with one of these items.

When the engine is HOT: With your foot firmly on the brake, and the emergency brake ON, put the vehicle in DRIVE and slowly step on the accelerator pedal until you bring the engine RPM’s up to about 4000. Don’t do this for more than 10 seconds, the problem should show itself within this time.

If the engine sputters or coughs while you are doing this, you most likely have an engine misfire taking place and the culprit is probably a spark plug or spark plug wire. With 74,000 miles you are due for a tune up, spark plugs, wires, and fuel filter replacement.

Symptoms of “bad gas” or a weak or bad fuel pump will cause the engine to bog down and loose power. The engine RPM’s will DECREASE and the engine will usually die due to a lack of fuel or lack of clean burnable fuel. You can get bad gas, but it is pretty rare and the engine usually will not run at all.

Austin Davis

Posted in: Running Problems

4 Comments on "2002 Buick Regal Engine Runs Bad and Won’t Get On Freeway"

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  1. JIM says:

    I have a 2002 Buick Regal with 85000 miles on it. The car is making a constant clanking sound driving also the rpms are going up but it takes a awhile for the car to speed up.Feels like I’m pulling a train. Also the engine was really hot about 30 min later.It took awhile for the car to shift. Thanks Jim

    • Austin says:

      Jim, My first off the cuff guess would be a problem in the transmission, like a broken flywheel, or some other internal transmission problem. First, check the transmission fluid level it might be low due to a leak somewhere. I would NOT continue to drive it like this to avoid further damage. The engine overheating issue is probably related, so fix the main problem and hopefully that will go away.

  2. rob says:

    I have 2002 regal and at about 65000 miles i had the same problems. mine was also the catalytic converter. were exhaust is under warranty tell 80,000 miles gm will fix it for free.

  3. Chris says:

    Sounds like the problem that I had. Get the catalytic converter checked. Mine was totally clogged.

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