14 Reasons Why Car Is Jerking When Accelerating

Sometimes a vehicle can have engine hesitations during acceleration when the gas pedal it’s pressed. When the engine hesitates, it may seem like the vehicle has lost power or it will stop. A lot of times you can feel the jerking sensation that usually happens at lower speeds.

Your car started to jerk when you’re accelerating. Different things might cause that but the most common are air intake, fuel line problems or spark plugs. Nevertheless, the sooner you find out what is the problem, you will lower the risks of damaging your car and reduce your costs.

Here are the most common 14 reasons why your car is jerking when you accelerate:

1. Dirty fuel injectors

Dirty fuel injectors

Fuel injectors regulate the amount of fuel admitted into in the engine’s cylinders. When the fuel injectors are clogged the amount of fuel entering the engine is not equal each time.

One good way of fixing this problem is to use regularly fuel injector cleaner. If you already experience losing power or engine stutters, the cleaner can help with it, but there are cases where the injectors are so choked that only replacing them will fix the problem.

2. Spark plugs problems

Worn out spark plug

This is a quick repair that doesn’t cost much. If the spark plugs are worn out, it will cause engine jerking, because of not igniting the fuel correctly. The pistons will not move correctly and thus shaking the whole car.
Do you remember when you changed them last time? If you don’t, a new spark plug might fix your car jerking issue.

3. Moisture accumulated in time on the distributor’s cap

When you keep your car outside in cold or humid weather, moisture can gather in the distributor’s cap. This will cause engine misfires and stuttering at the beginning of the driving.

The good thing is that you just need to place your car in the sun or just let it dry.
Be careful as repetitive moisture accumulation will cause engine problems.

4. Choked catalytic converter

Choked catalytic converter

The catalytic converter helps to reduce the pollution of cars. Blockages can happen in time because of the rich flow of air and fuel. These blockages will cause delay response when you hit the gas pedal, or even car jerking if the flow is not uniform.
There are good catalytic converter cleaners that can help with small blockages. In case of a bigger problem, replacing it is the only solution.

5. Disruption in the fuel line

The fuel is circulating from your tank to the engine. If the flow is not uniform, and there are disruptions in the line, then car jerks on acceleration. A bad fuel pump, fuel filter or clogged pipes can be a reason for this.
A broken fuel pump will try to deliver a constant flow, but this struggle might cause trembling when speeding up. Replacing a fuel filter is not expensive and might be a cause that a fuel delivery is not constant.

6. Dirty air filter


Air and fuel create a good mixture for the engine internal combustion system. When one of them is not consistent, a car might vibrate when accelerating.
A dirty air filter will not let enough air pass through and you might encounter your car jerking.
This is an inexpensive fix and easy to do it on your own. Better check now if your filter is clean enough.

7. Fault in the ignition system

Did you checked the spark plug and are fine? Or new? Then you might need diagnostics of the ignition system.
Check this video below

8. Worn out acceleration cable

An acceleration cable is not often used in the modern cars anymore. They replace it with the electronic control units for the air intake. There are still cars, slightly older, that still use the system.

If the connection between the gas pedal and the acceleration plate is not good, the car will jerk on acceleration.

9. Faulty MAF sensor


The mass airflow sensor measures the air intake of the engine. The fuel amount to the injectors is calculated together with the engine’s control unit.

If the information received from the sensor is wrong, the air and fuel mix is not correct. This will cause your car jerking at high speeds.

You can discover the fault with an OBD scanner or the check engine light will turn on to signal the problem.

10. Bad ignition coil

The ignition coils are used to create the electric spark in the spark plugs. They transform the low voltage of the battery in thousands of volts. Depending on the engine, your car might have one per each spark plug or one for two spark plugs.

The intermittent functioning of these coils might cause your car jerking when accelerating, so you might check them at a car service.

11. Problematic transmission control module

If your car is automatic and you feel it is jerking when accelerating, the transmission module may be faulty. Automatic gear shifting can be unpredictable or rough. This problem is not as common as the other ones, but worth looking into.

12. Manual gear driving skills

If you’re a beginner on driving a manual car, then sometimes it might get tricky. If you are not timing exactly when you release the clutch and press the gas pedal might cause your car jerk.

Also, if you quickly release the clutch and not press the gas, things will get a little shaky. Although this is not very common, you can try to asses your manual shifting skills.

13. Low voltage supply

A fuel pump is an electronic device. If there is not enough voltage available to it, problems may arise. The battery only gives the current to start the car, then the alternator provides flow to the entire car.

A bad alternator can cause low voltages, and the fuel pump might not work correctly. Then the air and fuel mixture will not be consistent, causing the car to jerk at acceleration. It’s not a very common problem, but still, you can consider it.

14. Bad EGR valve

The EGR is there to reduce emissions. It takes some exhaust gases from the engine back to the combustion chambers. A bad valve can cause power or acceleration reduction and a jerk when the flow is higher.
Usually an error code will be highlighted on your dashboard if something is wrong.


You now know 14 reasons why your car is jerking when accelerating. Even if it’s related to the fuel flow, air flow or spark plugs, when the car is jerking on acceleration something feels wrong. My advice is to try to fix the problem fast so that no other auxiliary components wear out also.

Leave a comment if you encountered any of the issues above in your car.

2 thoughts on “14 Reasons Why Car Is Jerking When Accelerating”

  1. Hi my wheel hub assembly went and I had to replace it, but now when I accelerate the gas,she jerks then slows down if I keep my foot on the gas pedal she begins to jerk and kick like a horse,I also notice my speedometer isnt reading accurate ut keeps to 150, or 120 when I’m not even going 50 and my ABS and Traction lites are on. I’ve been to 5 mechanic’s including the ford dealer, I’m out of $1500 and she still isn’t fixed, please help me

    1. Hi Minerva! Can you please give more details about the car type? What kind of Ford do you have? What year? Mileage?

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