If your car shakes when accelerating, you are definitely not alone.
This is a common problem when it comes to cars, as many different engine components failing can cause this problem.
A car engine needs the correct air-fuel ratio to run efficiently. If there is an imbalance in this relationship, the car engine skips one of its combustion cycle processes and ends up failing. Let’s start with a quick overview of common causes.
The most common reason a car shakes when accelerating is due to a dirty air filter or a faulty MAF sensor. It can also be caused by other fuel-related problems, such as a defective fuel pump, fuel injector, or a clogged air filter. It could also be caused by ignition problems such as faulty spark plugs.
These are the most common causes of why your car shakes when accelerating, but let’s dig a little deeper.
Here is a much more detailed list of the 10 common reasons why your car shakes when accelerating.
10 reasons why your car jerks when accelerating
1. Dirty air filter
The air filter ensures that the engine always receives fresh air without dust or other dirt entering the engine, which can seriously damage it.
The air filter needs to be replaced regularly and if it hasn’t been done for a while, it can become dirty, especially if you live in a very dusty area. Checking the air filter is easy to do, so check it and replace it if it is damaged.
2. Dirty or damaged mass air flow sensor
The mass air flow sensor measures the air entering the engine. This sensor can accumulate a lot of dirt over the years, causing it to read the incorrect amount of air in the engine.
This can cause a faulty air-fuel mixture, which can cause the engine to jerk when accelerating. Remove the mass air flow sensor and clean it thoroughly with a power cleaner. Replace it if you suspect it is defective and have done the proper investigation.
3. Clogged fuel filter
A clogged fuel filter is absolutely not an uncommon problem. Dirt and dust enter the fuel tank every time you fill up your car, and they can even come with the fuel.
If the fuel filter is clogged, the engine will not get enough fuel to run properly and you may experience jerks and hiccups when you try to accelerate.
Replacing the fuel filter is usually fairly cheap and easy to do, so if you haven’t done it in a while, you should replace it.
4. Defective fuel pump
A faulty fuel pump can cause problems similar to a clogged fuel filter, resulting in a lean fuel mixture for the engine. The fuel pump is often located inside the tank and is quite difficult to replace.
This means that you have to be pretty sure that the fuel pump is bad before replacing it. One way to check this may be to install a fuel pressure gauge on the fuel rail to measure fuel pressure.
If you replaced the fuel filter and the fuel pressure is low when accelerating, you have a bad fuel pump or fuel pressure regulator.
5. Defective fuel injector
Fuel injectors control the amount of fuel entering each cylinder. You have a fuel injector in each cylinder.
If one of the fuel injectors fails, you will experience a misfire, which will cause jerking as you try to accelerate your car.
This is not a very common problem, however, make sure they are broken before replacing them.
6. Defective spark plugs
Spark plugs control the ignition in the combustion chamber, and without them, your car won’t run at all.
Spark plugs wear out over time, and a bad spark plug can cause a misfire, which can cause jerking when accelerating. They are fairly easy and inexpensive to replace, so if you haven’t had one in a while, you definitely need to do so.
7. Defective EGR valve
The EGR valve controls the exhaust gases, which must be recycled back into the car’s engine. If you discharge too much or too little exhaust into the intake, the air-fuel mixture may be bad, causing misfires.
In some cars, it is possible to clog the EGR valve pipes. If possible, try removing the EGR connector and plugging in the hose to see if the problem improves.
8. Defective ignition coil
The ignition coil provides spark to the spark plugs and as you can understand, a faulty ignition coil can cause serious failures.
Some cars have separate ignition coils and others have one for all cylinders. If you have separate ignition coils, it could be one or two bad coils. Check the fault codes for any specific cylinder where the misfire occurs, and replace the ignition coil on the given cylinder to see if that is the problem.
9. Blocked or clogged catalytic converter
The catalytic converter helps your car pass the emissions test and gives us a better environment. Unfortunately, the internal parts of the catalytic converter can sometimes come loose.
This can block the exhaust pipe and create too much back pressure in the exhaust system, which will cause your car to shake when accelerating.
Try removing the catalytic converter and inspect it to see if it is clogged or if you can see any loose parts.
10. Transmission problems
When your car shakes when accelerating, it doesn’t actually have to be a problem with the engine. In some cases at the rear, it could be a transmission or gearbox problem.
It could be a bad slipper clutch or something else in the transmission. Transmissions are complex things, so if you think it’s a problem, it’s best to let a professional mechanic handle it.