You’re driving and notice your car or truck jerks whenever you speed up. You assume that this is a problem you shouldn’t ignore, but you don’t know what’s causing it. What will your mechanic say when you bring your vehicle in?
There are eight common reasons why this can occur. Bear in mind that if the problem was ignored previously for whatever reason, it may have created further issues that will need to be repaired.
1. Dirty Air Filter
Air filters that become clogged or dirty can cause a number of issues, including poor gas mileage, engine noises, and dark smoke emitting from the tailpipe. Clogged air filters can lead to dirty spark plugs, decreasing their ability to start the combustion process. This is what causes the jerking behavior when accelerating. The best fix here is to simply replace the air filter. To prevent future problems, your owner’s manual should have a guide on how often to change your automobile’s air filters.
2. Worn or Damaged Spark Plugs
Even if the air filter is fine, spark plugs can become worn or damaged on their own. A spark plug is an excellent indicator of the overall health of your vehicle’s engine, so it’s wise to have them looked at once in a while, especially when experiencing problems. If you’re experiencing jerking as you speed up and think your air filter is fine, you should still have the spark plugs checked out. Luckily, both spark plugs and air filters are inexpensive.
3. Dirt in the Fuel Injector
As fuel runs through the lines, the injectors can get dirty, compromising how the injector itself functions. A dirty fuel injector can reduce the flow of gasoline and cause the vehicle to jerk when accelerating. Sometimes, fuel pumps can fail entirely, especially if problems aren’t addressed early on.
4. Damage to the Gas Lines
Gas lines can become damaged, causing a fuel line leak. If this is the case, you should also smell gas or even see a leak. While smells are more common than jerking, this is still one of the more common problems you’ll find when experiencing a jerking vehicle.
5. Damaged Catalytic Converter
Catalytic converters are exhaust emission control devices that your vehicle uses to convert pollutant gas into a less harmful kind of gas. While they can last for 10 years or more, that doesn’t mean they can’t break down. Catalytic converters can overheat, become clogged, or get contaminated. This can cause the engine to run poorly and cause jerking or general sluggishness.
Sometimes it’s possible to repair a catalytic converter without needing to replace it. A clogged catalytic converter, for example, should just need to be cleaned out by a mechanic.
6. Failing Cylinders
The cylinders are where fuel is combusted and the power to move your vehicle is generated. Like many things, they can become worn or damaged over time, especially if basic maintenance, such as oil changes, isn’t performed, or other problems are ignored and allowed to fester.
Failing cylinders can cause a number of symptoms, one of which can be jerking as you accelerate. You may also get leaks of oil or coolant, or see smoke from the exhaust.
7. Damaged Carburetor
The carburetors in a vehicle are responsible for supplying the engine with the proper air/fuel ratio. An imbalance creates a number of problems and could also be the culprit if you’re experiencing jerks while getting up to speed. A mechanic will need to repair or even replace these components.
8. Damaged Acceleration Cables
These cables help your vehicle accelerate, but they can become damaged. When that happens, it grows difficult for your car or truck to accelerate as it needs to, resulting in jerking. Your mechanic can diagnose the problem if it stems from the acceleration cables.
Don’t Ignore Jerking Problems
Sometimes, the problem is small enough for you to handle on your own, such as changing an air filter. Other problems, however, will have to be diagnosed and repaired by a trusted mechanic. Putting off a necessary repair can easily trickle down and damage more components, resulting in more time-consuming and costly repairs. Moreover, a jerking vehicle can be difficult to control, compromising your safety and the safety of others.
Stay safe on the road and keep your vehicle healthy by having your regular maintenance done and staying on top of problems as they occur.