car jerks when accelerating

6 Reasons Why Your Car May Jerk When Accelerating and How You Might Fix It

If you are not a mechanic, there is a certain amount of dread that goes through your body with any car issue. If you feel your car suddenly jerk, that panic can rise unexpectedly. With this in mind, it is good to know some common conditions that can cause this.

Below, we will give you a couple of reasons why a car may jerk. We will also give you some ways to get through this process without spending a ton of money.

Moisture On Your Distributor Cap

Colder temperatures will lead to your distributor cap to have more moisture build-up. It is especially true when it is snowing, as snow is a continuous source of cold. Try and park your car in a warmer location. If this isn’t possible, we move onto our next set of options.

Spark Plugs May Be Worn

The next area you could check would be your spark plugs. Older plugs will have a harder time starting your ignition, requiring multiple attempts before your car responds.

Signs of this may also come in the form of other electrical issues. If your spark plugs were all replaced at the same time, they may all go around the same time. While this is not always the case, keep an eye on other potential electrical issues.

How Do I Change Spark Plugs?

Thankfully it is one of the simpler processes to follow in your car. You start by replacing spark plugs one at a time, that way you can be sure that you connect the right plug to the correct wire.

Make sure your tool, typically a rachet, fits the spark plug properly. Turn counter-clockwise until the plug loosens and is easy to remove. With a coil-on-plug (COP) system, there should also be an additional 10 mm bolt.

Check the new spark plug to be sure there is nothing off or damaged. Be sure that you don’t let any small debris fall into the newly formed hole in your car.

Turn the new plug clockwise until it fits as firmly as the previous one did. You will need to do this with all spark plugs in your car. If you did it right, the electrical issues should go away.

Dirty or Damaged Fuel Injectors

Many vehicles have fuel injection systems in them. A dirty or damaged fuel injector can cause your car not to receive a steady stream of fuel, causing potential engine misfires.

In some cases, you may have minor damage to your fuel injectors. In either case, you will need to take them out so that you can clean them or replace them. If you need to test your injectors, lightly putting a screwdriver into them and listening for a regular clicking will indicate they are working.

How Do I Fix Fuel Injectors?

While this is a bit more complicated than spark plugs, it is another process that is doable at home.

Before you start, be sure to locate your fuse box so that you may remove the pressure from the fuel injector system. It is a safety step that will prevent you from damaging yourself or fuel injectors.

Next, you will want to work at removing the fuel rail, which may or may not have screws. You will also need to address the wiring here, ensuring that this is in a safe location.

At this point, you will remove the rail from the injectors and move onto the wires coming out of the fuel injectors. These should be attached to a harness on your engine.

Finally, you will want to remove them. Given that this is a delicate part of your engine, you should consider using a fuel injector remover. It is a specialized tool that is for smoothly removing the injectors, as you can’t just “yank” them out.

Each car is a bit different, so you will want to reference your owner’s manual as a consistent guide. If you need to replace and clean them, the video below can help you out.

Damaged or Blocked Gas Lines

If fuel injectors aren’t the problem, your next question may be related to damaged gas lines. The prior vehicle mentioned the fuel injectors, which gives you an excellent base from which to see the fuel line.

This area will be the first place you check. Otherwise, you should notice that your car may leak fuel, which is on the ground underneath your vehicle. The smell is pretty distinct, so it should be easy to spot.

How Do I Fix Damaged Fuel Lines?

Given we are dealing with gasoline, your first step will be to have proper safety equipment. You will need pans for each part of the damaged fuel line and safety goggles.

Typically speaking, there should be something on the end of the fuel line that you can use to loosen it with a wrench. Once finished, you will want to follow the hose to remove it from any mounting brackets that connect it to the engine.

Eventually, you will reach the fuel rail section, which shouldn’t be part of this process. By taking down any part numbers and requesting the parts at a store, follow this process backward to get the new fuel line installed.

Blockages in The Air Filter

Blockages in the air filter could cause the car to be receiving a lot of unwanted debris. Cleaning this may solve the issue, but it can’t be bad for your car either way.

How Do You Clean The Air Filter?

You can locate the air filter using your owner’s manual. Typically, you will see this portioned near your engine.

You will see the air filter within a housing, which you might need to open up using a tool. Once this is out, you can use a vacuum if it is a little dirty.

For more thorough cleaning, you can use water. If you use water, be sure to let the filter dry out entirely before reinstalling it. Otherwise, it could cause severe engine problems.

Broken or Dirty Catalytic Converter

If you noticed your exhaust system isn’t releasing as much steam, your jerking car might be related to your catalytic converter. Signs of this will also show a check engine light and the smell of rotten eggs.

How Do I Clean / Fix A Catalytic Converter?

In this case, it isn’t effortless to fix a catalytic converter. So you may wish to leave the repair process to professionals or consult a mechanic friend. You can use the below video for a guide.

When cleaning, there are a wide variety of products available. Many of them clean the entirety of your car, so you will want to check in to see if they are appropriate based on the year, make, and model of your vehicle. Product manuals on these cleaning products may help you with the details.


Having your car jerk is not a fun experience. Your first thought may be to think of your bank account and how much it may cry as a result of what you will have to do. Thankfully, many fixes don’t cost too much to go through.

While a jerky car can be anything from fuel line clogs to faulty spark plugs, there is a transparent process for fixing any of these. With this in mind, you already have many of the tools needed to get things done.

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