Why is My Car Jerking When I Accelerate?

Many automotive issues can be difficult to notice during daily driving, but your vehicle jerking when you accelerate is not one you’ll be able to ignore. It’s obvious and a bit unsettling when you hit the gas pedal and feel a large hesitation in the power delivery. 

Unfortunately, even though you can tell something is wrong, the exact cause of the issue is still hard to determine on your own. 

Causes of Jerking Acceleration

Clogged Air Intake

When the engine is unable to pull in as much air as needed, it can cause hiccups and hesitation during acceleration. The reason for this can be multiple different reasons, including a dirty engine air filter being the most common. 

Over time, your air filter will accumulate dirt and debris that restricts the amount of air the engine is getting. The best way to avoid this is to clean your filter when needed and/or replace the filter at the recommended interval. 

Lack of Fuel Delivery

Similar to a lack of air, a lack of fuel or fuel pressure can cause symptoms of jerking acceleration and hesitation. This can often be attributed to faulty fuel injectors, a lack of fuel rail pressure in general, or a weak/broken fuel pump.

Proper Spark and Ignition

Maintaining proper spark is vital for keeping the motor running smoothly and efficiently. When the spark is unable to ignite the air-fuel mixture, the engine will run in an erratic manner. 

This can be a result of multiple causes, including faulty spark plugs or damaged plug wires. 

4 spark plugs on orange background

MAF Sensor Failure

The mass airflow sensor (MAF) is responsible for reading the air intake and adjusting the air-fuel ratio for the engine to run properly. When this sensor begins to fail and send incorrect readings, it can cause the engine to run inefficiently and stutter under load. 

The MAF sensor is usually easily accessible to replace or clean, located between the air filter and intake manifold. 

Mass airflow sensor
Wapster, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Vacuum Leak

Any unintended air that enters the intake system past the MAF is known as a vacuum leak. This extra and unmetered air can cause an incorrect amount of air in the engine.

With this excess air flowing into the engine, the vehicle will run rough and can cause a wide variety of performance issues, including hesitation and jerking under acceleration. 

Engine Performance Diagnosis and Repair in Naperville

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should bring your vehicle in for an inspection and service by a trusted professional. 

Luckily, the expert technicians at Becker Service Center in Naperville, IL can take care of you and your vehicle with top-notch service and repairs. Call or schedule online with us today!