12 Reasons Why Your Car Jerks While Accelerating, and What You Can Do About It

Car Jerks While Accelerating

The last thing you want to endure while you’re on a steady road cruise is your car jerking and stuttering during what is supposed to be a smooth acceleration.

If you notice that your car is jerking while you’re accelerating, you should get this issue resolved as soon as possible. This is a potential sign that your car will develop additional problems over time that could affect the life of the vehicle.

If you experience any of the issues here consider taking your car in for some necessary auto maintenance.

All 12 possible reasons why your car jerks while accelerating

1. Dirty Fuel Injectors

Dirty fuel injectors are some of the most common reasons why an accelerator might be jerky. The dirt injector forces your car to lose power when you attempt to accelerate, both at a stop and while driving at a consistent speed. This causes an engine misfire.

2. Blockages

There could be a potential blockage that is preventing your car from getting the fuel it needs to accelerate smoothly. The air mixes with your fuel to create a spray that powers your engine. If this is interrupted, your car might struggle to accelerate.

3. Worn Spark Plugs

Your spark plugs may be worn out, or unable to properly ignite the fuel within the pistons fast enough. This can lead to your car not accelerating quickly enough, and fortunately, this fix is relatively easy and inexpensive.

4. Dirty Air Filters

Your air filter plays a vital role in keeping pollutants out of your engine. With time these pollutants can build up, and cause your car to accelerate poorly. This is also a simple enough fix as you can remove and wipe off the air filters before replacing them, or simply install new air filters.

5. Damaged Cylinders

If your cylinders are damaged this will affect the overall ability of your engine to work properly and will lead to potential engine misfires. Notify your mechanic if this is the issue so you can get these cylinders repaired and replaced.

6. Blocked Catalytic Converters

Your catalytic converter might be experiencing some sort of blockage that can lead to an acceleration issue. The mixture of air and fuel that passes through your converter can become too rich, and this can lead to a blockage.

This oftentimes leads to a car jerking about when the driver hits the gas. You might be able to clear it out with a catalytic converter cleaner, but you should probably consult your mechanic.

7. Damaged Gas Lines

Gas flows into your engine via its gas lines. If there’s something wrong with a gas line, this could cause your car to experience a loss of overall pressure which will make the vehicle jerk forward. In some extreme cases, a malfunctioning fuel line could even cause your engine to catch fire.

You need to check the fuel line to make certain it doesn’t have any holes, and again if you suspect a damaged gas line you should consult your mechanic.

8. Damaged Acceleration Cables

Your acceleration cable might be damaged, the cable which is the link between your gas cable and the engine throttle plate. Pressing the gas pedal causes the cable to pull your throttle open, which allows your car to accelerate. If this is damaged or if there is an issue between the cables this could be causing your acceleration to jerk.

9. Defective Carburetors

Your carburetor is responsible for controlling how much fuel and air become mixed before it enters your engine. When the carburetor is damaged this will cause your car to jerk when accelerating but will also lead to poor overall performance. You should get your carburetor fixed as soon as you can.

10. Moisture In Your Distributor Cap

You may have jerky acceleration during the winter months if you have moisture accumulating on the distributor cap. This can occur when you park your car outside and in various inclement weather patterns. Try parking your car in a warm, dry spot. 

11. Faulty Mass Airflow Sensor

Surging, jerking, or other acceleration issues at high speeds could be due to your mass airflow sensor failing. Your mass airflow sensor is supposed to measure the amount of air entering the engine, so that it can relay this to the car’s internal computer. The computer then tells the fuel injector to provide the correct amount of fuel at the right time for the necessary air and fuel mixture.

If you have a faulty sensor, you might experience those unexpected jerks and surges while driving on the freeway or highway where it’s more noticeable. When your mass airflow sensor is failing, your check engine light should come on and notify you of this issue long before any substantial problems occur.

12. Bad Transmission Control Module

If you drive a vehicle with an automatic transmission and notice your car jerking, bucking, or other acceleration issues (especially around the times when your transmission changes gears), you may have a faulty transmission control module.

This part is responsible for the gear changes when you accelerate in an automatic transmission vehicle. Gear shifts could be delayed by this issue or become unpredictable and harsh, which is dangerous. This is not a common issue but is a possibility to check out if you have already checked many of the other issues.


There are several reasons why your vehicle might jerk while accelerating, and checking and fixing the issues above is certain to resolve your problem and get your car smoothly back on the road. When your check engine light comes on, don’t ignore it.

Blockages in your fuel line or your engine not receiving the proper mixture of air and fuel can be a dangerous issue and lead to problems on the road.

Resolving these issues as soon as possible will increase the longevity of your vehicle, whether you’re taking your car to a trusted auto mechanic, or grabbing parts from your nearest quality auto parts shop and checking on the issue yourself.

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