10 Reasons Your Car Jerks When Accelerating and How To Fix It

A car that is jerking or jumping when accelerating can be caused by many different things. Here are the most common causes and how to fix it

Car Jerks When Accelerating

If your car jerks when you accelerate, you are not alone. This is a widespread problem when it comes to cars, as many different faulty engine components can cause this problem.

A car engine needs the right air-fuel ratio to work efficiently. If there is an imbalance in this ratio, the car engine skips one of its combustion cycle processes and ends up misfiring. Let’s start with a quick look at the common causes.

10 Causes Why Your Car Is Jerking When Accelerating

The most common reason why a car is jerking when accelerating is a dirty air filter or a faulty MAF sensor. It can also be caused by other fuel-related issues, like a faulty fuel pump, fuel injector, or a clogged air filter. It could also be caused by ignition issues like bad spark plugs.

These are the most common causes of why your car is jerking or jumping when accelerating, but let’s delve a little bit deeper into this topic.

Here is a much more detailed list of the 10 common reasons why your car is jerking or jumping when accelerating.

1. Dirty Air Filter

Dirty Air Filter

The air filter makes sure that the engine always gets fresh air without getting any dust or other dirt through the engine, which can seriously damage it.

The air filter should be replaced regularly. If this hasn’t been done in a while, the filter can get filthy, especially if you live in a very dusty place. Checking the air filter is easy to do, so check it and replace it if it is in bad condition.

2. Dirty or Damaged Mass Air Flow Sensor

Dirt Maf Sensor

The mass airflow sensor measures the air entering the engine. This sensor can collect a lot of dirt through the years, making it read a false amount of air into the engine.

This can cause a faulty air-fuel mixture, which can cause your engine to start jerking on acceleration. Remove the mass airflow sensor and clean it carefully with an electrical cleaner. Replace it if you suspect that it is faulty and have done proper research.

3. Clogged Fuel Filter

Dirty Fuel Filter

A clogged fuel filter is absolutely not a rare problem. Dirt and dust come into the fuel tank every time you refill your car, and it can even come with the fuel.

If the fuel filter gets clogged, the engine won’t get enough fuel to function properly, and you may experience jerking and hiccups when trying to accelerate.

Replacing the fuel filter is often pretty cheap and easy to do, so if you haven’t done it in a while, you should replace it.

4. Faulty Fuel Pump

Cars Fuel Pump

A faulty fuel pump can cause similar problems as a clogged fuel filter, which leads to lean-mixture for the engine. The fuel pump is often located inside the tank and is pretty difficult to replace.

This means that you should be sure that the fuel pump is faulty before replacing it. One way to check it would be to install a fuel pressure gauge on the fuel rail to measure the fuel pressure.

If you have replaced the fuel filter and the fuel pressure is low on acceleration, you have a bad fuel pump or fuel pressure regulator.

5. Faulty Fuel Injector

Fuel Injectors E1609793590952

The fuel injectors control the amount of fuel entering each cylinder. You have one fuel injector on each cylinder.

If one of the fuel injectors goes bad, you will experience misfires, resulting in jerking while you are trying to accelerate your car.

This is not a very common problem, though, so be sure that they are broken before replacing them.

6. Bad Spark Plugs

Spark Plug

The spark plugs control the ignition in the combustion chamber, and without them, your car won’t run at all.

Spark plugs get worn over time, and a faulty spark plug can result in misfires, which can cause jerking on acceleration. They are pretty easy and cheap to replace, so if you haven’t replaced them in a while, you should absolutely do it.

7. Faulty EGR Valve

Egr Valve

The EGR valve controls the exhaust gases, which should be recirculated into the car engine. If it releases too much or too little exhaust gases into the intake, your air-fuel mixture might be imbalanced, which will cause misfires.

On some cars, it is possible to plug the EGR valve pipes. If possible, try to remove the EGR connector and plug the pipe to see if the problem is gets better.

8. Bad Ignition Coil/s

Three Ignition Coils Vag

The ignition coil gives spark to the spark plugs, and as you might understand, a bad ignition coil can cause serious misfires.

Some cars have separate ignition coils, and some have one for all cylinders. If you have separate ignition coils, it can be one or two faulty ones. Check the trouble codes for any specific cylinder the misfires occur on, and replace the ignition coil on the given cylinder to see if that is the problem.

9. Blocked or Clogged Catalytic Converter

Clogged Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter is responsible for helping your car successfuly pass emissions tests, ensuring that your car is not contributing too much to air pollution. Unfortunately, the internal parts of the catalytic converter can sometimes become loose.

This can cause the exhaust pipe to become blocked and create too much back pressure in the exhaust system, which will make your car jerk on acceleration.

Try to remove the catalytic converter and inspect it to see if it is clogged or if you can see any loose parts.

10. Transmission problems

Car Shifting Problems E1609782519191

When your car jerks when accelerating, it doesn’t actually have to be a problem with the engine. In some rare cases, it can be a problem with the transmission or gearbox.

It can be because of a slipping clutch or something else damaged in the transmission. Transmissions are complex things, so if you think it is a problem with it, you’d do best to let a professional mechanic handle it instead.

Magnus Sellén
Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of Mechanicbase. He has been working as a car mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced car diagnostics and troubleshooting. Certified Automotive Diagnostic Technician.

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