Book a Service with Auto Giant
The MTAQ Professional Circle RACQ Approved Automotice Repairer
Site Navigation

When Your Car Jerks – What’s the Cause?

by: Auto Giant

Is your car jerking to one side while you’re driving or when you’re shifting gears? How you deal with this and fix the problem will vary significantly depending on the cause. If this ever occurs in your vehicle and it’s clearly out of the ordinary, bring your car into into the Auto Giant mechanical workshop in Brendale to have the problem rectified or repaired.


Whatever the culprit may be, jerking is almost always the result of an unbalanced flow of air and fuel, and there are a number of components that may be behind this issue. To narrow down the options, we’ve come up with a list of the most common reasons behind why a car jerks.

1. Blocked Fuel Filter

If the temperature is not to blame, accumulated waste in the fuel filter could also cause the car to jerk. In fact, a blocked fuel filter is the most common cause for a jerking vehicle. A fuel filter screens out rust and dirt particles from the fuel, and if the fuel filter is blocked, the petrol will flow through the engine fuel systems less effectively.


Along with jerking, a bad fuel filter will also cause the vehicle to cut out or lose power when driving up an incline. This occurs because fuel demand increases while under load and the clogged filter reduces the flow required. A dirty fuel filter makes the fuel pump work much harder too, so it’s always best to clean your fuel filter if you notice any of these symptoms.


2. Faulty Throttle Position Sensor

A faulty throttle position sensor could be the cause of all your troubles. This sensor is used to monitor the throttle position on a vehicle and when it’s faulty, it will cause the vehicle to jerk frequently over time. Some other common signs of problems with your throttle position sensor include lack of power when accelerating, a rough or slow idle and the check engine light coming on.


3. Damaged Tyre

If your tyre is damaged, this can also cause the car to pull and jerk. Damage from a piece of glass or metal can easily cause the vehicle to run out of alignment, and you may also experience excessive vibration if your wheel is no longer aligned. Take a look at the tyres and run your hand across the tread to find out if there’s any damage.


4. Spark Plug Fault

Does your car jerk when you start the engine in the morning and while you’re accelerating? If so, there could be something wrong with your spark plugs. A spark plug delivers electric current from the ignition system to the combustion chamber to ignite the mixture of compressed air and fuel. If it’s faulty or failing, the fuel won’t ignite properly.

Along with jerking, the engine will make more noise than usual. Poor fuel economy, slow acceleration and loss of power are also likely to occur if this is the cause. The spark plugs will need to be changed to rectify the problem.


5. Worn Out Acceleration Cable

This metal braided cable links the gas pedal and the throttle plate. When the cable is pulled by pressing the gas pedal, the throttle opens. When the acceleration cable is faulty or worn out, along with jerking while accelerating, the car will also take more time than usual to respond. Take a look inside your vehicle to check the cable, and if the outer covering of the cable is damaged, you will know that this is the cause.


6. Dirty or Clogged Fuel Injectors

Fuel injectors spray a fine mist of petrol into the engine’s intake manifold. When the fuel is in mist form, it burns more efficiently. If your fuel injectors are dirty or clogged, it has a negative effect on fuel flow rates, distribution and atomization, resulting in performance problems including jerking, loss of power and the engine misfiring. To rectify this problem, the fuel injectors will need to be cleaned.


7. Fuel Pump Failing

The fuel pump transports petrol from the fuel tank into the engine. If the fuel pump fails, the correct amount of fuel may not be delivered to the engine consistently, and the dramatic increase in pressure caused can make the car jerk. The vehicle may also be sluggish to drive and may struggle when towing or driving up a hill. If the fuel pump is to blame, it may need to be replaced.


8. Faulty Mass Airflow Sensor

This sensor measures the amount of air entering the engine and relays this information to the computer in the vehicle. From this information, the right amount of fuel to be delivered from the fuel injectors is determined. If this sensor is failing, the mix of air and fuel may become out of balance.

Along with unexpected jerking while driving at high speed in gear, the check engine light should also be triggered if this is the cause. The vehicle may also stall not long after starting.


Find the Cause and Fix it with Auto Giant!

There are so many potential causes for a jerking vehicle, but the only way to know for sure is to bring your car into the Auto Giant mechanical workshop in Brendale. Our expert mechanics will do everything we can to find and fix any issues we find with your vehicle, and you can have peace of mind knowing we use genuine parts for all repairs.

At Auto Giant when your car is serviced by our experienced team, they pride themselves on delivering uncompromising quality and services.