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Why Your Car Jerks When Accelerating and What to Do to Fix It

Car Jerks When Accelerating

When you’re driving down the street and trying to get to wherever it is that you’re going, the last thing that you expect to happen is for your car to start jerking. It can be very scary when you’re behind the wheel and a car jerks when accelerating. Sometimes, that alone can cause a driver to lose control of their car for a few seconds and put them into harm’s way.

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If your car jerks when accelerating, you should not ignore this problem. It could show that you’re experiencing issues with anything from your spark plugs to your catalytic converter. In some cases, it could even indicate that you need to have your vehicle’s transmission fixed. Continue reading to learn more about what to do with a car that jerks when accelerating in a number of different situations.


What It Feels Like When a Car Jerks When Accelerating

Before we get too deep into explaining why a car jerks when accelerating, it’s important for you to know what it feels like when your car jerks. If you’ve never had your car jerk on you in the past, it can really catch you off guard and leave you wondering what in the world just happened. So let’s start there and make sure that you have a good understanding of what it feels like when a car jerks when accelerating at low speeds and at high speeds.


When your car jerks, it’ll often feel as though it’s not getting the power that it needs to move forward. Even if you have your foot pressed down on the gas, your car will stop, hesitate for a moment, and then lunge forward, and it’ll often repeat this process any number of times depending on what’s causing your car to jerk. If you’re trying to accelerate your car from a stop, the jerking will make it difficult for you to build up any speed. And if you’re already accelerating your car, the jerking will make it hard for you to maintain your speed, no matter how fast you might be going.


As you might imagine, it can be unsafe to drive your car when your car jerks when accelerating since you’re going to struggle to get a good handle on it. Someone who is driving behind you could very well slam into the back of you if you suddenly stop driving as fast as you were before. It’s why you should have your car looked at by a mechanic if it’s always jerking on you when you’re out on the road.


Reasons Why a Car Jerks When Accelerating

If you’re a relatively new driver who is driving a car with a manual transmission in it for the first time and it’s jerking on you a lot, the problem that you’re experiencing might not be with your car. The truth is that you could be causing your car to jerk all the time by not shifting your car from one gear to the next properly. The only way to get your car to stop jerking in these instances is by learning how to shift your car the right way.


If, however, you have an automatic transmission in your car and you find yourself saying, “My car hesitates and jerks when accelerating,” on a regular basis, you could have a bigger problem on your hands. There are many reasons why a car jerks when accelerating, and you’ll need to figure out which one is causing your car to jerk when you accelerate. This will be the key to stopping your car from jerking anymore.


In a moment, we’re going to talk about some of the specific instances in which a car jerks when accelerating and address the most common causes behind them. But generally speaking, these are some of the issues that will often cause a car to jerk when you’re driving it:


  1. Bad spark plugs: When the spark plugs in your car get to be on the older side, they’ll have a hard time igniting the fuel that’s located in each of your piston cylinders. When this happens, it’ll result in your engine misfiring and your car jerking when you attempt to accelerate.
  2. Dirty fuel injectors: Your car’s fuel injectors are designed to keep a steady stream of fuel flowing into your engine. When they get dirty over time, they won’t be able to deliver the fuel your engine needs quickly enough, and your car will misfire and jerk when you try to accelerate.
  3. Blocked air intake or faulty mass airflow sensor:  Your car’s engine needs more than just fuel to make your car go. It also needs air to mix with the fuel to keep the pistons in it moving. If you have a blocked air intake or a faulty mass airflow sensor, your engine won’t get the air that it needs, and it’ll often misfire and cause your car to jerk around during acceleration.
  4. Worn-out accelerator cable: There is an accelerator cable in your car that sits between your gas pedal and the throttle plate in your engine. It’s there to open up the throttle when you press down on the gas pedal. This cable can wear out over time and even break, which will lead to your car taking a long time to accelerate and jerking as it builds up speed.
  5. Moisture in the distributor cap: If you leave your car parked for an extended period of time, moisture can build up on the inside of your car’s distributor cap. That moisture can cause misfiring in your engine and stop you from accelerating without jerking first.
  6. Clogged catalytic converter: Your car’s catalytic converter is in place to reduce the emissions that your car produces. But at times, the air and fuel mixtures that move through your catalytic converter can cause it to clog and lead to your car jerking for a few moments.


These are just some of the reasons why cars jerk when accelerating. If you ever notice your car jerking, you may want to consider if any of these aspects of your car needs to be fixed. You might be able to narrow down the problem by thinking about when the jerking takes place. We’re now going to discuss some of the specific situations in which a car will jerk and point out why drivers find themselves in each one.


Why a Car Jerks When Accelerating at Low Speeds

If your car jerks when accelerating at low speeds, it can frustrate you pretty much from the second you climb into the car. Doing something as simple as slowly pulling out of your driveway can cause your car to jerk and make you think about whether or not you should even be driving it.


More often than not, when a car jerks when accelerating at low speeds, it’s because there’s a problem with the spark plugs in it. A simple tune-up should be able to stop the jerking once and for all. But there could also be a problem with the air intake system or with the catalytic converter. These are some of the common causes of jerking when a car jerks when accelerating at low speeds.


Why a Car Jerks When Accelerating at High Speeds

The good thing about having a car that jerks when accelerating at low speeds is that you won’t have to worry too much about losing control of it. Since you won’t be driving it very fast, you should be able to keep on controlling it even as it jerks on you. But what about when a car jerks when accelerating at high speeds? That can be a much different story since it could lead to you struggling to keep your car under control.


If you’re having this particular problem, it’s something that you’re going to need to take care of sooner than later. You don’t want to put yourself or others into danger by continuing to ride around in a car that jerks when accelerating at high speeds. Most often, when a car jerks when accelerating at high speeds, it’s because it’s not getting the air that it needs. Fixing it will require you to clear a blocked air intake or to replace a faulty mass airflow sensor.


What It Means When a Car Jerks When Accelerating From a Stop

Do you worry about what’s going to happen every time you step on the gas after your car has been at a full stop for at least a few seconds? It can make doing something as simple as stopping at a red light or a stop sign super stressful. When a car jerks when accelerating from a stop, it can be annoying, and it could also potentially be dangerous if someone stopped behind you doesn’t realize your car is jerking and not accelerating.


Most of the time, a car that jerks when accelerating from a stop has dirty fuel injectors in it or a blocked fuel intake. Either way, these issues stop a car’s engine from getting the fuel that it needs, and it leads to the whole car jerking. You might notice your car behaving strangely both when you’re idling and when you’re accelerating after sitting in a stopped position.


What If the Car That Jerks When Accelerating Is an Automatic?

There are a lot of people who get very worried when their car starts jerking during acceleration because they’re under the impression that it could show there is an issue with their transmission. But this is usually not the case. Typically, they’re experiencing one of the other problems that we’ve mentioned here.


But it’s worth mentioning that there are times when a car’s transmission could be to blame when the car that jerks when accelerating is an automatic. It could mean that you have a faulty transmission control module, also known as a solenoid, in your car. When this part goes bad, it can cause a car to jerk just as your car is moving from one gear to the next. This issue isn’t anywhere near as common as some of the other issues listed here, but it could be worth exploring if you suspect your car could have a transmission problem.


What If My Car Jerks When Accelerating With No Check Engine Light?

If your car jerks when accelerating but your check engine light hasn’t come on, you might think that you’re in the clear. If the problem was that bad, surely the check engine light would light up to let you know, right? In some cases, yes, the cause of your car jerking will cause your check engine light to appear. A faulty mass airflow sensor, for example, will cause your check engine light to go on. So will a problem with your car’s catalytic converter.


But if your car jerks when accelerating with no check engine light, it doesn’t mean there isn’t an issue. Worn-out spark plugs, for instance, won’t always cause your check engine light to appear. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t run out and have your spark plugs replaced to stop them from causing your car to jerk when you accelerate. When a car jerks when accelerating with a check engine light on, it means that you should get your car to a mechanic quickly. But the same can be said when a car jerks when accelerating with no check engine light. They’re both big causes for concern.


My Car Jerks When Accelerating: How Much Will It Cost to Fix?

A car that jerks when you accelerate is not a car that you should keep on driving around. It’s a car that you should send into the shop immediately to have it inspected. Call your mechanic and say, “My car jerks when accelerating,” and let them have a look at it. They’ll be able to diagnose your exact issue and fix it for you.


The cost to remedy the problem will vary depending on your specific problem. Here are the costs associated with some of the parts you might need to fix if your car jerks when accelerating:


  • Replace spark plugs: Between $50 and $150
  • Clean fuel injectors: Between $50 and $100
  • Replace air intake system: Between $150 and $500
  • Replace mass airflow sensor: Between $275 and $400
  • Replace accelerator cable: Between $100 and $375
  • Replace catalytic converter: Between $1,000 and $2,500


The cost to fix whatever is causing your car to jerk when accelerating can change based on the type of car that you drive. Your auto repair shop can give you a better idea of what it’s going to take to get your car running like normal again.


Should You Sell a Car That Hesitates and Jerks When Accelerating?

Are you tired of driving around in a car that hesitates and jerks when accelerating? It can be enough to make your blood boil each time it happens. It can also cause you to fear for your life and the lives of others when it happens while you’re driving at high speeds. You should have the problem with your car fixed as soon as you can to stop it from wreaking havoc on your life.


Depending on what your mechanic says about your car, you might also want to consider selling your vehicle if your car jerks when accelerating. If it’s on the older side, it might not be worth spending money to replace the catalytic converter or to do one of the other costly repairs that might need to be made. You would be better off selling your car as is for cash and letting someone else worry about it for once.


Cash Cars Buyer is a company that specializes in buying cars that people don’t want anymore. Whether you have a car that looks terrible or your car jerks when accelerating and no longer makes you feel safe, we would be willing to take it off your hands for you. Reach out to us today to receive an offer for your car right away.

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