Potential Causes When Your Vehicle Jerks as You Drive


Does your car tend to jerk to the side when you’re driving down the road or when it/you shift gears? Many people find this issue happens to them at least once with car ownership, but how you deal with it and fix it can vary depending on what’s happening. Learning more about these causes can help you decide when and if to take the car to a mechanic. While there can be different reasons, most focus on an imbalance between fuel and air, which could lead to a variety of components being to blame.

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Blocked Fuel Filter

While the temperature (such as extremely cold temps) can cause jerking when you initially start the car and drive, it could also be accumulated waste that sits in the fuel filter that causes the jerking. Many times, a blocked fuel filter is to blame and is considered the most common cause for your vehicle to jerk. The fuel filter screens out dirt particles and rust from the fuel; if it’s blocked, gasoline flows into the engine and other systems less effectively.

Other symptoms that the fuel filter is blocked include loss of power or a cut-out feeling when driving up hills because the fuel demand is going to increase at that time, but the clogged filter reduces gasoline flow.

Throttle Position Sensor

It is amazing just how many sensors your vehicle has, and one of them isn’t well-known. If the throttle position sensor is faulty, it could cause the jerking issue. The sensor monitors your throttle position on the vehicle; if it’s faulty, it causes the vehicle to jerk quite frequently over time. Other symptoms include a rough/slow idle, no power when accelerating, or the check-engine light illuminating.

Tire Damage

If your tire is damaged, you could notice pulling and jerking. If metal or glass gets into the tire or you hit a large pothole, the vehicle can become misaligned. Another symptom is if you experience significant vibration of the vehicle, which happens when the wheels aren’t aligned. If you don’t visually see damage to the tires, have them inspected.

Faulty Spark Plugs

A spark plug is designed to deliver an electric current to the combustion chamber from the ignition system, where the combustion chamber ignites the fuel and compressed air mixture. If it fails, the fuel doesn’t ignite correctly. Therefore, you may experience jerking when you accelerate or when you first start the vehicle.

Other symptoms include more engine noise than usual, slow acceleration, poor fuel economy, and loss of power. This is an easy fix; just get the spark plugs replaced.

Acceleration Cable

The acceleration cable is a braided metal cable that links your throttle plate and gas pedal. When you press on the gas pedal, the cable is pulled, so the throttle opens. When the cable is worn out or faulty, you can experience a jerking motion. Along with such, you’re likely to notice longer response times. It is easy to spot a worn acceleration cable, so you can easily go to any mechanic for diagnosis.

Clogged/Dirty Fuel Injectors

The fuel injectors are designed to spray a fine misting of gasoline into the intake manifold of the engine. While in mist form, the fuel burns more effectively. If the fuel injectors are clogged or dirty, it can adversely affect flow rates, atomization, and distribution, which can result in jerking, engine misfires, and loss of power.

Mass Airflow Sensor

This particular sensor is designed to measure how much air enters the engine, relaying the information to the computer within the car. The computer then dispenses the right amount of fuel from the fuel injectors. If the sensor is faulty or fails, the mixture of fuel and air may be out of balance.

A jerking feeling while driving can be scary, but your trusted mechanic can diagnose the issue and fix it.

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Potential Causes When Your Vehicle Jerks as You Drive

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