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Why does my car jerk when I accelerate?

Why Does My Car Jerks When I Accelerate and How to Fix It?

One of the most annoying problems that car owners face is when their car jerks when they accelerate.

This issue can cause a lot of discomforts and even be dangerous if it happens at high speeds.

So, in this article, we will discuss several reasons why a car jerks when it accelerates.

Why Does My Car Jerk When I Accelerate?

There can be several reasons behind this problem, and it’s essential to diagnose and fix it before it leads to further complications.

  • Fuel System
  • Transmission
  • Engine
  • Spark Plugs
  • Vacuum Leak
  • Tires
  • Airflow Sensor
  • Throttle Position Sensor
  • Ignition Coil
  • Exhaust System
  • Catalytic Converter
  • Fuel Injectors

Fuel System

The fuel system of a car is responsible for delivering fuel to the engine, and if there is an issue in this system, it can cause the car to jerk when accelerating.

Some of the common reasons behind this can be a clogged fuel filter, malfunctioning fuel injectors, or a failing fuel pump.

A clogged fuel filter can cause a lack of fuel supply to the engine, leading to a jerking motion, while malfunctioning fuel injectors or a failing fuel pump can cause an irregular supply of fuel, leading to a similar issue.


The transmission system of a car is responsible for transferring power from the engine to the wheels.

If there is an issue in this system, it can cause the car to jerk when accelerating.

Some of the common reasons behind this can be low transmission fluid levels, a worn-out clutch, or a failing torque converter.

Low transmission fluid levels can cause the transmission to slip, leading to a jerking motion, while a worn-out clutch or a failing torque converter can cause the car to hesitate or jerk when accelerating.


The engine of a car is the heart of the vehicle and is responsible for generating power.

If there is an issue in the engine, it can cause the car to jerk when accelerating.

Some of the common reasons behind this can be a dirty or faulty mass airflow sensor, a malfunctioning throttle position sensor, or a failing ignition coil.

A dirty or faulty mass airflow sensor can cause an irregular air-fuel mixture, leading to a jerking motion, while a malfunctioning throttle position sensor or a failing ignition coil can cause a lack of power, leading to hesitation or jerking when accelerating.

Spark Plugs

Spark plugs play a crucial role in the functioning of the engine.

They ignite the air and fuel mixture in the cylinders, generating power to move the car.

If the spark plugs are worn out, dirty, or faulty, it can cause the engine to misfire, leading to a jerking motion when accelerating.

This is because the engine is not firing on all cylinders, causing a loss of power and making the car hesitate.

Vacuum Leak

A vacuum leak occurs when there is an unexpected gap in the vacuum system.

The vacuum system is responsible for various functions in the car, including braking and power steering.

A vacuum leak can cause a reduction in engine power and cause the car to jerk when accelerating. If the leak is severe, it can lead to other problems like a high-pitched whistling noise or stalling.


Uneven wear and tear on your car’s tires can cause vibrations that can make the car jerk when accelerating.

It is essential to ensure that the tires are balanced and aligned correctly, as this can significantly affect the car’s performance.

A misaligned tire can cause the car to pull to one side and cause jerking when accelerating.

Airflow Sensor

The mass airflow sensor (MAF) is responsible for measuring the amount of air entering the engine.

If it fails, it can cause the engine to run too lean or too rich, leading to a jerking motion when accelerating.

Throttle Position Sensor

The throttle position sensor (TPS) monitors the position of the throttle valve and sends signals to the engine control module to adjust the fuel delivery accordingly.

If the TPS is faulty, it can send incorrect signals to the engine control module, causing the engine to run too lean or too rich and resulting in a jerking motion when accelerating.

Ignition Coil

The ignition coil is responsible for converting the battery voltage into a high voltage needed to ignite the air and fuel mixture in the cylinders.

If the ignition coil is failing, it can cause the engine to misfire, leading to a jerking motion when accelerating.

Exhaust System

The exhaust system is responsible for removing the gases produced during the combustion process.

A clogged or damaged exhaust system can cause back pressure in the engine, leading to a loss of power and a jerking motion when accelerating.

Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter is responsible for converting harmful gases into less harmful gases before they leave the exhaust system.

If the catalytic converter is clogged or failing, it can restrict the flow of exhaust gases, leading to a loss of power and a jerking motion when accelerating.

Fuel Injectors

The fuel injectors are responsible for spraying fuel into the engine’s cylinders.

If the fuel injectors are dirty or clogged, they can restrict the flow of fuel, causing the engine to run too lean or too rich, leading to a jerking motion when accelerating.

Conclusion on Why Does My Car Jerk When I Accelerate?

In conclusion, there can be several reasons why your car is jerking when accelerating. It’s essential to get the issue diagnosed and fixed as soon as possible, as ignoring it can cause further problems and even be dangerous. The common causes of jerking when accelerating include issues with the fuel system, transmission, engine, spark plugs, vacuum leak, and tires. If you’re experiencing this problem with your car, take it to a professional mechanic who can diagnose the issue and get it fixed to ensure your safety and the longevity of your vehicle.

What Does It Mean When Your Car Jerks When Accelerating?

When you have car trouble, pinpointing the problem often feels frustrating and overly complicated. Trying to locate and fix the issue becomes even more irritating when your vehicle has trouble with basic functions, such as starting or accelerating. Luckily, you’re not alone. We’ll go over what it means if your car jerks during acceleration and the steps you can take to fix this issue.

Is It Normal for a Car To Jerk When Accelerating?

It’s not normal for a car to jerk during acceleration and this occurrence can even lead to dangerous accidents. If your car jerks or stops suddenly when you try to accelerate, you should diagnose and remedy the issue as fast as possible.

How Do You Identify an Abnormal Jerk?

You experience an abnormal car jerk when your car stops suddenly, shudders, or bucks when you attempt to start it or to speed up. This indicates a severe problem and that your vehicle needs immediate attention.

Different Scenarios Where Car Jerks on Acceleration

Here are a few common scenarios where a car jerks while accelerating, the potential causes and ways to fix the issue.

I) Car Jerks When Accelerating and Braking

Does our car jerk when you accelerate and brake? Read on.

Possible Causes

A car may jerk because of a problem with the brakes. Common brake issues include air in the brake lines and warped rotors.

How To Fix It

A brake bleeder kit can siphon the air from the brake lines. Jack the car up on the flat ground and secure it on jack stands appropriate for the size and heft of your vehicle. Do not remove the tires and master cylinder reservoir. Before attaching the bleeder, make sure that you have an elevated level of brake fluid.

Next, find the brake bleeding nipple at the drum or caliper farthest from the master cylinder and attach the vacuum bleeder. Use a box-end wrench to twist the bleeder screw open. Slowly pump the vacuum until you see clean fluid, and no more air bubbles appear.

A mechanized lathe can smooth a warped rotor, especially thicker rotors. If your car has thinner rotors, you may need to buy a new one.

II) Car Jerks When Accelerating at Low Speeds

Your fuel injector may be to blame if your car jerks at low speeds.

Possible Causes

Dirty fuel injectors may cause your car to jerk at low speeds.

How To Fix It

For minor problems with injectors, you can buy fuel injector cleaners to break up carbon deposits; when the fuel tank has mostly emptied, pour the cleaner in. Then, fill the tank with fuel and repeat during following oil changes.

Buy a fuel injector cleaning kit for more serious problems. Hang the canister above the engine under the hood, find the fuel rail test port and attach. Then, attach the canister hose to the fuel rail test port using an adapter, remove the fuel pump relay and attach the canister’s airport to the air supply.

Follow the kit’s instructions to alter the system pressure (shown on the canister’s meter) and start the car. After five to ten minutes, when the cleaning liquid has flowed out of the canister, disconnect the canister.

If this does not fully clean your fuel injectors, it’s time to take it in to buy a new one.

III) Car Jerks When Accelerating at High Speeds

Worry that your car jerks when you accelerate at higher speeds? Check out the possible causes and solutions.

Possible Causes

Excessive driving with low levels of fuel can cause parts of the fuel pump to wear down. Worn down or loose connections within the pump could also impede its function. Buildup in the fuel filter, inferior fuel, or dirty fuel injectors can also make the car jerk when it accelerates at high speeds.

How To Fix It

If the fuel pump has caused the problem, you may need to replace parts of it, but don’t jump to the conclusion that the whole pump has broken.

Your fuel filter stops dirt build-up from entering the fuel injector. If the filter stops working, you should replace it.

Substandard quality gasoline can also impede a car’s function. Make sure to fill your tank with gas from sellers you trust and recognize. Additionally, gas stations with less patronage often don’t fill their tanks frequently enough; they may have staler fuel.

Clean a minimally dirty fuel injector with fuel-injector cleaning fluid (see instructions above). For more serious problems with the fuel injector, buy a fuel injector cleaning kit (see instructions for using the kit above).

IV) Car Jerks When Accelerating Uphill

Uphill jerking can happen for a few reasons.

Possible Causes

Buildup in the fuel filter or a clogged fuel injector can cause vehicles to jerk when heading uphill.

How To Fix It

You may need to replace the fuel filter in your vehicle.

For information on how to clean a clogged fuel injector, see above under “Car jerks when accelerating and braking.”

V) Car Jerks When Accelerating With Check Engine Lights

If your engine light goes on, it can indicate any number of issues.

Possible Causes

If the check engine lights are on, you may have a problem with the vehicle’s spark plugs, ignition system, fuel injector, or catalytic converter.

How To Fix It

If spark plugs have become faulty, you will need to replace them. You can do this yourself by removing the cables that obscure the engine. You will find the spark plugs on top of the cylinder. Take the old plugs out and make sure the new ones match their length. Spray lube on the plugs’ threads before tightening them. Finally, insert the new spark plugs and put the parts and wires back in place.

In order to address a problem with the ignition system, locate the car battery. Disconnect the black negative battery cable and unscrew the panels under the steering wheel. Remove the center cover from the steering wheel and unplug the horn.

Mark the wheel so that you can line it up correctly again when you place it back into the car, then lift the steering wheel bolts and remove the steering wheel. Next, take out the switches that control the wipers and indicators. Locate the starter switch, unscrew it, and disconnect the wires from the ignition switch.

Place your key into the car’s keyhole and turn it to “locked.” Use a screwdriver to press down the clip before turning the key to an off position. This will allow you to retain the same key for your car, even as you remove the faulty switch.

Attach the new ignition switch to the old cylinder and connect all the wires. Screw the ignition switch back in, place the panels back, and test the ignition switch. If it works, you can put the pieces back in their original places.

For information on how to fix a dirty fuel injector, see above under “Car jerks when accelerating and breaking.”

Check if your car has a clogged catalytic converter by running a Vacuum Test, a Back Pressure Test, or a Temperature Test, or a Tap Test. For more information on running these tests, see here.

If the catalytic converter does not have intense clogging, you can clean it without removal. Pour catalytic converter cleaner into the fuel tank.

If this fails to work, you may have to remove the catalytic converter to clean it. Do this AFTER the exhaust system cools down to avoid burns.

VI) Car Hesitates and Jerks When Accelerating

If your car delays a bit and jerks as you accelerate, there are a few potential causes.

Possible Causes

If a car jerks and stops when you try to accelerate, you may also have a problem with the combustion process due to worn-out spark plugs or cables, or due to low levels of fuel. Clogged catalytic converters can also cause cars to hesitate and jerk.

The clutch may also have an issue.

How To Fix It

For information on replacing spark plugs and repairing catalytic converters, see above under “Car jerks when accelerating uphill” and “Car jerks when accelerating with check engine lights.”

If you hear a grinding sound while the car jerks, or if the clutch feels sticky, this indicates a problem with the clutch.

Replacing the clutch is a time-consuming and complicated process. If the clutch breaks, we suggest you take the car in for repair by a professional.

How Much Will It Cost To Fix the Problem?

The cost of fixing acceleration issues varies widely. Cleaning a faulty fuel injector can cost as little as ten dollars. On the high end, the price of a professional catalytic converter replacement may reach over $2,000.

Author: DJ

Dave Junior is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

Why Does My Car Jerk When I Accelerate?

If your car has begun to jerk or shudder during acceleration, it is a sign that something is wrong and should be investigated immediately. There are a number of reasons why this could happen, many of which are easily rectified, however, if left unattended this can turn into a more serious and costly problem that at worst, causes engine damage beyond repair.

Why Does My Car Jerk When I Accelerate?

How Can I Be Sure If My Car Is Jerking?

A jerking vehicle typically feels as though the car is hesitating or shuddering during acceleration, it feels significantly differently to a healthy car that should accelerate smoothly. Any signs of stuttering and jerking during acceleration should not be ignored.

Possible Issues

Dirty or Malfunctioning Fuel Injectors

The fuel injectors are delicate pieces of equipment that can quite easily begin to malfunction if dirty or damaged. If the fuel injectors become clogged, they will reduce the flow of fuel into the engine, which causes the car to jerk or stutter during acceleration. Dirty fuel injectors are either caused by the fuel itself, any impurities can build up, or there may be a general accumulation dust and debris. Fuel injectors can be easily cleaned if dirty or replaced if necessary.

Faulty Spark Plugs

Worn out spark plugs can cause the car to jerk when in motion. Over time and with prolonged use the spark plugs will begin to wear down, replacing them will ensure that there are no shortages in power throughout the vehicle.

Catalytic Converter Blockages

The catalytic converters often begin to break down through regular use, this can cause the car to jerk when accelerating, as the blockage disrupt the exhaust system’s airflow. If the catalytic converter is worn, it will need to be replaced and any blockages corrected by a qualified technician.

Damaged Fuel Pump

If the fuel pump is damaged or obstructed, it is unlikely it will be able to draw enough fuel out of the tank resulting in a stuttering or jerking vehicle. The problem will continue until the fuel pump is replaced.

Dirty Filters

Both air and fuel filters play an important role in keeping your vehicle clean and functioning properly, keeping pollutants such as dust and debris out of the engine. If the air filters are clogged it is likely that the car will begin to stutter. To ensure that the filters are not the issue, simply either wipe them clean or replace if necessary.

Problematic Carburettor

On older models of vehicle that do not have fuel injectors, a problematic carburettor may explain the issue. The carburettor has the function of controlling the quantities of air and fuel that are to be mixed together before they enter the engine; if the carburettor is damaged it will cause the vehicle to jerk during acceleration as well as other problems.


This is possibly one of the least likely reasons, however if the cylinders of the engine are damaged in any way, this can also lead to problems accelerating or other types of issues – these should be repaired or replaced immediately.

How We Can Help

A great number of car related issues can be avoided by ensuring that your car is regularly serviced at a reliable and reputable garage. During a comprehensive service, the car, its engine and parts will all be thoroughly inspected and tested for faults or damage, this helps to identify any issues before they turn into bigger and often more serious problems.

Our garage offers comprehensive all makes vehicle servicing and MOTs. As a Bosch accredited service station, our technicians are highly skilled and experienced, providing an extremely high standard of vehicle diagnostics and repair services. For more information on our services, or to book your vehicle in for a service or repair, get in touch today.

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