12 Reasons Your Car Jerks While Accelerating

Published on

May 29, 2024

Car jerking while accelerating

It's more than just frustrating if your car pulls to one side when you step on the gas - it can also be a safety issue. That's why if your car pulls when accelerating, it's important to get the issue resolved. Unfortunately, the reason behind the issue may be tough to pinpoint.

Is Your Car Jerking While Accelerating? Here's Why:

If your car is jerking while you accelerate, the root cause could be one of several things. Here's an overview of some of the common pain points associated with this issue:

1. You May Have Clogged Fuel Injectors

This is the most common issue associated with a car pulling or jerking as you accelerate. That's because if the fuel injectors are dirty, it's going to result in your vehicle losing power when you step on the accelerator, thereby causing the engine to misfire. It can even lead to problems when you're trying to drive at a consistent speed.

2. Your Catalytic Converter May be Obstructed

Another common blockage or clogging involves the catalytic converter. A vital part of the exhaust system, catalytic converters are often obstructed when the air-fuel mix that passes through this component becomes too rich. This can lead to sudden jerking when pressing down on the gas pedal.

3. The Spark Plugs Could be Worn Out

Spark plugs are one of the least expensive and easiest vehicle repairs to make. Worn or damaged spark plugs are also one of the most common issues with your vehicle jerking while you're accelerating. That's because if the spark plugs are too worn or too damaged, they're likely not able to ignite the fuel in the piston efficiently. It's best practice to replace the spark plugs every 30,000 to 90,000 miles or about once every 5 years.

4. Your Engine Cylinders Could be Damaged

The engine is the single most important component of your vehicle, so it should go without saying that any engine issues are going to impact the performance of your vehicle. And one engine issue that's often associated with acceleration problems is damaged engine cylinders. If this is a problem, make sure to have the engine serviced promptly. Otherwise, it could lead to further engine damage.

5. Drive a Manual? Your Clutch Could be Worn Out

Most vehicles these days have automatic transmissions, but there’s still the driving purist that prefers to drive vehicles with a manual transmission. In vehicles with manual transmissions, worn clutches are among the biggest problems associated with acceleration problems. The clutch is the component that's most responsible for engaging the transmission. It wears over time due to friction, and when it does it can lead to transmission slips, trouble shifting gears, and even problems with acceleration. A good rule of thumb is to have your clutch serviced and possibly even replaced every 50,000 to 100,000 miles.

6. The Car's Transmission Could be Having Issues

Next to the engine, the transmission is the most important component of an efficient and smooth-running vehicle. However, issues with the transmission can have far-reaching effects, and problems with acceleration happen to be one of them. Some common problems with the transmission include low/bad fluid or internal degradation. The best way to avoid transmission issues is to flush your transmission fluid according to your vehicle manufacturer's recommendations.

7. You May Need to Change Your Air Filters

The main role of an air filter is to prevent pollutants from reaching the engine. However, if you do not regularly change the air filter as it becomes soiled, these pollutants are going to cause problems with acceleration. The good news is that this is another easy fix. Sometimes, the issue can be resolved by simply removing and cleaning the air filter. Other times, new air filters will need to be installed.

8. Your Acceleration Cables Could be Damaged

Accelerator cables link the gas cable with the engine throttle plate. When you press the gas pedal, the cable will move so that the throttle opens, thereby allowing your vehicle to accelerate. If the cables are damaged, this function won't work properly and could cause the car to jerk when accelerating.

9. There Could be Issues with Your Ignition System

Have your ignition system inspected regularly to detect any problems that could impact engine power and performance. The ignition system includes a lot of different components. If one or more malfunctions, it's going to have an impact.

10. Your Mass Airflow Sensor Could be Faulty

This component measures incoming air, which helps dictate the amount of fuel that's injected. If this sensor malfunctions, the engine isn't going to be able to properly read the air intake. This can result in jerking during vehicle acceleration. The good news is that there are some easy signs to be on the lookout for that could dictate mass airflow sensor failure. These include poor fuel efficiency, rough idling, and noticeably poor engine performance.

11. The Engine's Vacuum System May Have a Leak

Vacuum leaks are another problem that can disrupt the air-fuel mix that your vehicle needs to run and accelerate smoothly. Again, this is a pretty easy problem to identify. Some common signs of an engine vacuum problem include hissing, irregular engine idling, and poor acceleration.

12. Your Fuel Choice Could be Hurting Your Car

Finally, the type of fuel that you put into your vehicle makes a big difference when it comes to engine performance. Fuel that's poor quality is more likely to contain contaminants, which can result in poor engine performance. A good way to ensure you're pumping high-quality fuel into your vehicle is to only do so at gas stations you trust and check fuel quality at those you're unfamiliar with.

Too Much to Consider? Let us Help You Today!

As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why your vehicle may jerk while accelerating. If it's too much to troubleshoot on your own, take the guesswork out of it by bringing your vehicle to your nearest GreatWater-affiliated location today.