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Why My Car Jerks When Accelerating: Things You Need To Know

why my car jerks when accelerating

The car engine is critical, if not the most important part of a car to keep it in top running shape. No matter how expensive the car or how well maintained it is, it is inevitable to experience several issues with regular use.

Whether the problem is serious or not, it has to be dealt with immediately to keep your car in top condition. Car jerks when accelerating is one of the most common problems experienced in manual transmission vehicles. However, there are still other possible causes as to why your car jerks when accelerating. Here are several things you need to know.

Car Jerking For Manual Transmission

If you’ve already driven a manual transmission car, you might have already experienced even just for once, what’s it like to have your car jerk and suddenly shut down.

Just as we mentioned earlier, car jerks when accelerating is something common among those drivers who use cars with manual transmission. For beginners, it is prevalent to experience car jerking when shifting gears (usually between the first and the second gear).

After that slight jitter in your manual car, it might even be accompanied by an automatic engine shutdown. Then, you’ll have to restart your car engine again.

Sounds familiar? You might have released the clutch too abruptly, or you might have released the clutch before fully shifting to another gear. That is one of the most common reasons why manual car drivers experience car jerking and a dead engine after.

However, this does not always have to be the case. The solution here can be as simple as not releasing the clutch too fast or too abruptly. It is essential that you allow your gears to shift first, before slowly releasing the clutch completely.

push uphill after a breakdown

Another tip to avoid excessive car jerking as well is, when you are driving uphill (or what they call “hanging”), don’t step on the clutch too lightly or too hard.

If you step on it with just the right amount of pressure, you would feel as if there’s this “half” or middle step that clicks. Once you get to that middle or perfect half step on the clutch, you would feel that there would be fewer vibrations or car jerking as you accelerate.

Why Does My Car Jerk When Accelerating?

When your car jerks as it accelerates, there are many possible reasons as to why it has been acting the way it is. It is critical to be able to get to the cause immediately as it can be a sign that something is wrong with your engine.

driving with comfort

Remember, car jerking is not only experienced by manual cars. Even automatic transmission cars are not an exemption to this. Here are some more possible causes as to why your car jerks when accelerating:

1. Faulty Fuel Pipes

Fuel pipes are the ones responsible for transferring fuel from one point inside the car engine to another. A broken fuel pipe can cause your car to jerk, and even worse, it can cause a fire or an explosion.

Your car engine will hesitate to accelerate or “jerk” if it experiences any disruption at all during fuel transfer from the fuel tank to your engine. Remember, the internal combustion engine is easily susceptible to issues once a fuel pipe leaks or is chewed off by rats for example.

2.  Dirty Fuel Tank, Injection System, and Filter

fuel injector cleaning

Credit: fuelinjectorcleanerhq.com

Any gunk or dirt build up at all can cause problems for you and your car engine. A dirty fuel tank, fuel injection system and fuel filter can easily cause you to experience car jerking.

It is because, again, it can disrupt the flow and supply of fuel into your engine. Insufficient amount of fuel in your car engine can cause it to “jitter” or jerk as you try to accelerate.

3. Dirty Air Filter

dirty air filter

Photo: http://blog.carparts4less.co.uk/

Air filters are responsible for keeping out road debris, bugs, dirt and other things that may contaminate and damage your car’s engine. It makes your air cleaner susceptible to accumulating build ups or obstruction over time.

This one is an underrated cause, but dirty air filters can also cause car jerking due to inefficient fuel combustion. Remember, your car needs the right mixture of air and fuel to run properly.

4. Faulty Carburetor

The carburetor regulates and blends the right amount and perfect ratio of fuel and air as it flows into the engine cylinders for proper fuel combustion. A faulty carburetor can affect the performance of your car.

Aside from a dirty air filter, a malfunctioning carburetor can also cause car jerking as it affects the balance in the fuel-air mixture. If you’re suspecting that your carburetor is the cause, you can start by checking the fuel inlet, idle jet, throttle lever, choke lever and throttle valve.

5. Defective Spark Plugs/Spark Plug Wires

a damaged spark plug

Another usual cause for your car jerking is bad spark plugs or spark plug wires. Spark plugs, on the other hand, are the ones responsible for delivering electric current to your ignition system.

If your spark plugs have a problem igniting your engine’s fuel and air mixture, you might experience car jerks. However, if you know that your spark plug is new, you might have to check on your spark plug wires.

An incomplete electric spark might be an indication that something is wrong with your spark plug wires.

6. Malfunctioning Ignition System

Now, if it isn’t either your spark plug or spark plug wire, then it might be something in your ignition system. For those mechanically timed ignition cars, you might want to check the cables, ignition coil, battery connectors and the distributor.

As for electronic ignition or even digital electronic timers (these are usually among newer vehicle models), then you might have to send it back to your car dealer for a check up. It might be a manufacturer defect.

7. Bad Engine Tuning

Finally, if all else fails, you might want to check your engine tuning. You can directly send it to a professional car mechanic and have it tuned. Remember, engine tuning is mostly just the adjustment of your vehicle engine’s system as well as its fuel system.

A proper engine tuning can boost your car’s performance, and even possibly, eliminate any car jerking.

Quick Fixes And Tips To Car Jerking

Most often than not, car jerking is solely caused by dirt or gunk build up somewhere within the engine. So, it is essential to constantly check your car engine and make sure that the parts are clean.

It can significantly reduce the possibility of your vehicle jerking. Regular oil changing as well as car parts replacement (or repairing if still possible) are also good habits to apply. Also, parking your car somewhere the temperature is consistent is also a good thing.

Exposing your car and its engine to rain or cold temperatures can cause it to hesitate or to jerk when accelerating. To avoid this, make sure that you park it in the garage. Or, if your country experiences extremely cold weathers like winter, a garage heater would be helpful.

a garage heater

Photo Credit: https://www.corvetteforum.com/

Also, knowing which kind of gasoline works best with your car engine is also useful. Does it run better on diesel or not? It will help keep your engine clean and in top condition.

If you use gasoline that is not well suited for your car, the engine might not be able to undergo full and proper fuel combustion leaving gunks or excess in the engine. Annual engine tuning is also a must if you want to keep your car in top condition.

Finally, if you feel as if the problem is more than just a dirty air filter or dirty engine parts in general, maybe it’s best to visit a professional. If you do not have much background on solving this kind of issues on your own, do not try to solve it by yourself.

Just one slip up or mistake can cause the problem to worsen, and that is what we are trying to avoid. If you can help it, take your car to the maintenance now and then to help diagnose other problems as well.

Remember, you might think it’s expensive to get your car maintained. But the safety and long term benefits keeping your vehicle maintained will cost you less.

At The End Of The Day

No matter how well maintained a car is, it is still possible to experience minor issues. However, there is no need to panic if you experience car jerking. It is probably something every car driver, manual or automatic, experiences.

Most often than not, the possible causes are minor or simple to address. So, if you know that you are genuinely trying to keep your car in top shape, then there is no need for you to panic.

Steven K. Galloway