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Why is my Car Jerking - All Possible Reasons

Why is my Car Jerking - All Possible Reasons

A car that jerks when starting it, when accelerating or whilst you're driving is showing symptoms that something is wrong, though there can be many causes: it can be problems in the starting system, fuel, engine or the exhaust pipe. You may even notice that your car engine light has come on to warn you of a problem. Getting to the problem at the first symptoms can avoid more serious break-downs. In oneHOWTO we'd like to give you some advice so you know all the possible reasons and answer your question: why is my car jerking?

You may also be interested in: Why Is my Car Pulling? - All Possible Reasons

Car jerking caused by a blocked catalyst

Car jerking can be caused by a blocked catalyst, which leads to gases not being ejected as they should be. The result is that, until the car doesn't rev, the car jerks. If your car has a blocked catalyst you will also notice the following symptoms apart from the jerking.


  • The 'Check engine' light will turn on
  • Your car jerks when accelerating
  • The car's fuel efficiency will have dropped

For more extended information, take a look at our article on the symptoms of a blocked catalyst. The best you can do if your car is jerking due to a blocked catalyst is to visit a trusted mechanic to fix it.

Jerking caused by a fault in the spark plug

Another cause for jerking can also be a fault in the spark plug or one of its cables. You will know this is the case if your car jerks when you start it in the morning. The symptoms are very similar to a blocked catalyst, but if it's a problem with a spark plug, you'll notice the following too:


  • The engine will make even more noise than it usually does, like that of an airplane.
  • It jerks when accelerating but also when you start the car

In this case, you can solve the problem yourself by changing the spark plug. If you don't have the skills to change the spark plug yourself make sure a professional solves this problem.

It is very important to keep the spark plug clean, so you can avoid car jerking and other more problems.

Car jerking because of a drained acceleration cable

A car jerking can also be a result of the acceleration cable being very worn out. You will notice because of the following symptoms apart from the jerking:


  • Your car takes extra time to respond when you press the accelerator and starts jerking.
  • If you take a look inside, you will also notice that the outer covering of the acceleration cable will be damaged.

The best you can do is change it as soon as possible, as the car will stop at any moment if you leave it to break. Take the vehicle to a mechanic to solve the problem. If your car has this problem, take a look at our article to know all the reasons why your car jerks when accelerating to find out what it may be or try adjusting the acceleration cable if you are handy with cars.

Car jerking because of dirty injectors

Another cause for car jerks are dirty injectors. This is not such a serious problem but should know it needs solving too. You will notice your car is jerking for this reason if:


  • Your car also loses power
  • Your engine misfires frequently and jerks and stutters frequently and/or continuously while driving normally.

It's best to clean them regularly to avoid costly reparations. You can do this yourself using a specific cleaning kit, which are quite cheap and can be found almost everywhere.

Car jerking because of the motor winding

The car's engine/motor winding can be another reason for car jerking. Wear of the engine's winding is most likely caused by the engine being put under stress - i.e. through hard acceleration.


  • If your car has more than one winding and one of them is broken, the car will jerk.
  • In the case there's only one winding, the car will not start.

The only way of knowing if this is the case is through the use of an Ohm meter, so if you don't own one it's best you check with a mechanic to know if this is the reason your car is jerking.

Accumulated waste can cause the car to jerk

Jerking can also mean the fuel filter is blocked because too much waste has accumulated. To make sure this is the case you can learn how to tell if your fuel filter is bad. If this is your case,go to your mechanics to solve the problem or you can also try to clean your fuel filter at home.

These are the most common causes of a car jerking, however, your car could have another problem that needs the help of a specialist. If you're not sure of what is happening to your car it's better to bring it to a mechanic. The specialist will find the root of the problem.

Car pulling

Are you sure your car is jerking and it's not another issue? You may be confusing your car's reaction to pulling, which is similar to jerking but will happen at a slower pace, more gradually. In this case, there may be a problem with your car's alignment, the pressure in your tires or the tire's rotation system. Take a look at all the possible reasons your car is pulling to make sure this is not the problem.

If you'd like to read similar articles to Why is my Car Jerking - All Possible Reasons, we recommend you browse around our Car Maintenance and Repair category.

Comments (33)

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I have a Dodge Nitro Diesel it started jerking when climbing a hill and had engine ticking I had the injector nozzles replaced but has not made any difference help what can I do next.
I have a Dodge Nitro diesel 2009,engine #8wXXX-XXX-XXX,chasisnID8G9589x8wXXX-XXX-XXX,engine capacity2776. When climbing up the hill its starts jerking and makes some ticking and knocking noise when accelerating what could be the problem.
Dodge Nitro diesel is jerking when climbing a hill and makes some ticking and knocking noise what could be the cause.
hi, my car jerks (alot), rav counter has gone bellow 1 (often ravs its sel a little) . if you happen to stand behind it, it smell of petrol and it started souding like a very old car
You should address the problem as soon as possible. It sounds like your car is jerking due to a blocked catalyst, so you will need to have it serviced by a mechanic.
My Name Is Bashir Sadik, I Am Interesed In Learning How To Repair Cars In General. I Want To Become A Mechanic, Pliz Help
OneHowTo Editor (OneHowto editor)
In our motor section you will find plenty of car repair articles, though the best way to learn properly is to go to a school where you can practice and be taught by professionals.
Hope this helps
I have a 1994 ford turus engine light is on. Had it hooked up to test can back clear of codes. Now car is sluggish running. Starts every few days. Start new, battery is new, alt is new. Smells like gas when car warms up replaced fuel fitlter.
holdern astra runs smooth on short distance. after a long drive it jerks and when you turn off motor its hard to start
David Omino
I bought a used Mitsubishi Outlander 2007 model from Japan in 2014. The car is comfortable, strong and powerful. Many people in Kenya are now importing the car due to its performance and fair price. However, 5 months ago the car started jerking when moving from stop or when slowing down to stop but the jerking disappears when the car gains speed. The car sometimes stalls when jerking and l have to switch it off and start again to move on. Have changed the spark plugs, air element , engine oil and oil filter but the jerking still persist. What id the problem and how can l identify the cause of the jerking?. The mechanics l have consulted do not know the actual cause and are just guesing possible causes
Midi wasa
Have a look at your fuel pressure unit to the injector rail there about $120.00
My golf1 2006 model jerk when i put gear number one what is the problem?
What seems more likely is that your gearbox is faulty. Take your car to a professional but I'd bet my money that is why your car jerks.
I filled up my 2008 Jeep Wrangler and was heading home, a few miles later while starting up a mountain my jeep started jerking and losing power, made it up and down the other side but it still is jerking and when you first start out it pops through the exhaust. and the check engine light is on and some times blinks
cody collins
hey my car does the same did u solve the problem

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Why is my Car Jerking - All Possible Reasons