If your car jerks when accelerating, you may not even have a check engine light on yet, but still, your vehicle jerks, or you find your engine stalling. There could be many reasons why and some of them are easy to fix.
Others may need help from a professional mechanic to get their jerking car fixed. We highlight some of the main reasons why your car jerks when accelerating, but you can always reach out to us for help or come by the service center!
1. You Drive a Stick Shift Car
This isn’t a problem, just an effect of driving a stick shift vehicle. If you’re still learning, you might be going through some jerking as you shift through each gear. However, it’s common in manual transmission, so as you get used to the controls, you’ll have a smoother ride.
2. Worn Out Spark Plugs
The spark plugs’ job is to light up the combined fuel and air held inside the engine, resulting in combustion that moves your car’s pistons. So, if your car starts stuttering, there’s a good chance there’s an issue with your spark plugs (or the cables attached to them).
It’s not unusual for these parts to wear out, and a faulty spark plug will cause your engine to misfire and jerk when you accelerate and for your engine to be much louder than usual.
3. Dirty Fuel Injectors
The purpose of fuel injectors is to provide a constant stream of gas to the cylinders in your engine. If your injectors get too dirty, your engine won’t get enough fuel and won’t work correctly; often misfiring during acceleration.
The good news is that it only takes a few hours to clean your fuel injector, and most garages will be able to do it for you. It is also possible to clean them yourself by adding cleaning fluid to an empty fuel tank or other methods requiring a few tools and some car knowledge!
4. Dirty Air Filter
The dream team that keeps your car running smoothly is the proper balance of air-fuel mixture. Unfortunately, when your car’s air filter gets too clogged with dust particles, some dirt will start to get into the engine and begin to affect how smoothly it runs. You can check your filter easily, and if it needs replacing, it’s a very cheap fix. Or you can opt for a reusable filter that will only need cleaning.
5. Moisture on the Distributor Cap
Your car’s distributor cap is an essential part of a car’s ignition system. When moisture builds up, it stops the ignition coil from sending electricity and the car jerks. This often happens in Ottawa’s cold, snowy climate! Thankfully, this doesn’t need replacing. The moisture just needs to evaporate. You can use a thermal cover to prevent this problem, or parking your car in an indoor garage would also help.
Keep in mind that most modern cars have a different system that doesn’t have one. They have a system called the coil-on plug. If this is the case, then you can rule out this as the cause.
6. Blocked Catalytic Converter
A catalytic converter is an essential part of your exhaust system as it is what takes care of reducing the emissions from your car. You can tell you have a clogged catalytic converter if your exhaust is putting out coloured smoke as well as jerking, or there is a rotten egg smell. Gas can build up and block, causing the gas to build up and jerk or stall.
Catalytic converters should last about 10 years, depending on mileage and engine tuning. A blocked catalytic converter is an expensive problem to fix, but if it’s failing prematurely, it’s an indicator that there may be a more serious problem. A good mechanic will be able to replace and help you find what is causing the problem.
7. Bad Fuel Pump
You’ve most likely noticed by now that your car jerking when you accelerate always tied in to fuel supply issues. A bad fuel pump will mean that the right amount of fuel isn’t getting into the engine, as the fuel pump simply won’t be able to keep up with what your engine needs or may not start at all.
Fixing this issue will cost differently depending on the model of your vehicle, so it’s best to get a quote from a trusted repair shop for the parts and labour.
In the same realm, it may be a clogged fuel filter that is causing the issue. A fuel filter is a relatively inexpensive fix and would help deliver the proper amount of fuel into the engine cylinders. Similarly, your fuel pipes or fuel line may be damaged and this can be extremely dangerous and cause your engine to catch fire.
8. Worn Accelerator Cable
An acceleration cable links your gas cable and engine throttle plate. When you press the gas pedal, it pulls the throttle plate and allows for more fuel, helping your car accelerate. These cables wear out over time, slackening and can require replacing. However, it isn’t the most expensive fix and is very easy to identify. If you have a more recent vehicle model, this is likely not the issue as electronic throttle controls have replaced accelerator cables in new models.
9. Damaged Cylinders
Lastly, you may have damaged cylinders in your engine. These cylinders are where combustion happens in your car’s engine, and if they aren’t working correctly, it can lead to engine misfires. As any engine work can be, this issue may be expensive to fix but definitely shouldn’t be ignored. The longer you drive your car with damaged cylinders, the more extensive the damage to your engine will be.
When your car jerks when accelerating, it can be very disconcerting and definitely shouldn’t be ignored. Something as easy as dirty air filters or faulty spark plugs are quick and inexpensive to fix, but if ignored, can lead to much more costly repairs. Sure, a manual transmission may have your car jerk from time to time, but getting your ignition system checked can help you avoid the kind of auto repairs that cause significant stress.
Get Your Car Fixed By Bemac
Give the team at Ottawa’s best repair shop a call for help finding the answer. We’ll take care of you from the exhaust pipe to check the engine light.