Hey, Why Is My Car Shaking When Accelerating?

If you are short on time and want to fast-track the process to professional help, click Yes

Four common causes for a vehicle shaking while accelerating and their related parts.
Your engine and transmission generate and transfers power to the wheels. Various rotating parts involved in this process might cause vibrations during acceleration if they fail, like axles and driveshafts. Another big contributor to shakes during acceleration is the engine’s performance in generating smooth and consistent power. In this sense, if the engine isn’t generating a consistent flow of power to the wheels, it ends up shaking the vehicle.

Is Your Car Shaking When You Accelerate It?

It probably shakes when accelerating because of loose/damaged engine mounts or a wheel-related issue. For instance, the wheels might be damaged, not properly tightened, or feature a faulty wheel bearing, whereas the tires could be unbalanced or worn. Ignition and engine mechanical problems are also common causes of shaking when accelerating. 

Do you feel a sudden shaking jolt when you hit the gas pedal? Don't let this unnerving experience harm you and your car! Allowing the shaking to continue unchecked can lead to disastrous consequences. Instead, consider scheduling a vehicle health inspection right away.

By addressing the underlying cause of the vibrations, you can rest assured that your ride will be safe and comfortable at any speed. So don't wait for misshapen to strike – take action now to ensure your vehicle's safety and reliability.

Let's Get To The Bottom Of It!

  • Q: Is the "check engine" warning lighting up when you accelerate?

    The ignition coil is an essential component of your car's engine that converts low voltage into high voltage in the battery, igniting the spark plugs. The high-voltage side of the coil requires good insulation to avoid going to the ground instead of the engine's spark plug. If the insulating boot between the coil and spark plug gets damaged, cracked, or soaked with oil or coolant, it causes the coil to short-circuit and fail. If the coil fails, the engine computer detects a misfire and triggers the check engine light on the dashboard.

  • Q: Does the vehicle hesitates on acceleration?

    The spark plug is a small but mighty part of your car's engine that creates a spark to help ignite the air and fuel mixture in your engine's cylinders. Over time, spark plugs will wear out and need to be replaced. Sometimes, foreign materials can get into the cylinder and damage or mess up the spark plug. And, when the head gasket is damaged and coolant starts leaking into the combustion chamber, it leaves coolant deposits on the spark plug behind. This causes the spark plug not to work correctly and causes problems when trying to accelerate. You might feel hesitation when you press down on the gas pedal.

  • Q: Does the vehicle start shaking at slow speeds and worsen when accelerating?

    The axles are parts of your car that connect the wheels to the rest of the vehicle. They sit on a bearing that helps keep the wheel and tire pointing straight ahead. However, if there's an impact on the side of the wheel, it can bend the axle hub, which causes the wheel to wobble when you're driving. This can make your vehicle shake and cause it to feel unstable as you go faster.

  • Q: Does it shake if you accelerate the vehicle quickly from a stationary position?

    The CV axle (also called a drive axle) is a part of your car that helps transfer power from the engine to the wheels. It has flexible joints on both ends, allowing the axle to move around. This helps your vehicle turn and lets the suspension do its job. Over time, the flexible joints on the CV axle can wear down. When this happens, a slight movement inside the joint may cause the car to shake when you accelerate quickly from a stop. The shaking will generally go away as you gain speed and momentum.

  • Q: Does the vehicle shakes at high speeds if you push the pedal?

    In some vehicles with a big rear drive shaft, a hanger bearing supports the middle part of the shaft. This bearing is attached to the drive shaft and sits on a rubber mount mounted on the vehicle frame. If the bearing or rubber gets worn out, the drive shaft can sag and wobble when driving at high speeds and applying a lot of torque. This wobbling can make the vehicle shake and vibrate, which can be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous.

Find Professional Help

Please select your vehicle's brand and location so we can locate the best professional help for you
If you are a shop owner and sick of business directories that are based on the cost of repair, AutoTechIQ is for you. If your customers receive Digital Inspection results then AutoTechIQ is definitely for you. Check out the certification page or how to rank in your area.

Vehicle Health Inspection Proof

Explore the following typical inspection results that show a potential cause for the symptom and select the one you believe is similar to your vehicle's issue.

Faulty ignition coil

The proof image shows the failed coil, which was contaminated with oil due to the leaking valve cover gasket.

A customer dropped off the vehicle and reported that the check engine light flashed; they also mentioned a burning oil smell. During a test drive, the technician confirmed that the check engine light was flashing and that there was an engine misfire.

The technician then conducted a vehicle health inspection and noticed the valve cover leaking oil onto the exhaust manifold, causing the burning smell. However, the technician found no other issues related to the "check engine" problem.

The technician conducted a vehicle code scan to diagnose the problem and detected a p0303 (cylinder 3 misfire). With authorization for additional diagnostic work, the technician used a specific vehicle scanner to verify the code.

The technician found that cylinder 3 was not firing and was utterly dead. To further investigate, the technician removed the related coil and spark plug for inspection.

Upon inspection, the technician found that the number 3 coil was soaked in oil and the number 3 spark plug's surface had raw fuel. The technician then removed the remaining coils and spark plugs and found that the boots of coils 2 and 4 also had oil on them.

Next, the technician cleaned and dried the spark plug wells before moving spark plug 3 to spark plug 4's hole and coil 3 to coil 2's position. After reinstallation, the technician cleared the codes and started the vehicle.

This testing process determines whether the issue is on the components' position or themselves.

The misfire switched to the number 2 cylinder, indicating that the coil previously in number 3 had failed due to oil intrusion. So, the issue wasn't where the coil was; it was the coil itself.

Finally, the technician recommended replacing the number three coil and coil boots. The technician also recommended replacing the valve cover gasket, which allowed leaks.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Wobbling cv axle

The proof image shows that the wobbling CV axle joint is causing the shake on acceleration.

A customer dropped off their vehicle and told the technician the car was oddly shaking. The customer believed the problem was coming from the front right side of the vehicle, as the passenger also felt vibrations underneath their feet.

During the test drive, the technician also noticed a wobble on the car's right side when accelerating from a stop. However, the wobble was less noticeable once the car reached highway speeds.

During the vehicle health inspection, the technician observed that the right outer CV boot slung grease. To determine the source of the vibrations, the technician had an assistant sit in the car while lightly applying the brake. Then he told the assistant to start the car and put it into gear.

The technician watched the car's system operate and confirmed that the vibration was coming from the right CV axle and would need replacing.

The CV axle is a component that connects the front wheels to the transmission, allowing the wheels to turn. When the CV axle is damaged or worn, it causes a shake or vibration, especially during acceleration.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Faulty driveshaft carrier bearing causing the vehicle to shake when accelerating

The proof image shows the damaged drive shaft hanger bearing, which caused a high-speed shake when accelerating.

A customer dropped off their vehicle and mentioned they experienced a terrible shake when downshifting on the road. However, after releasing the gas pedal, the shake seemed to disappear.

During the test drive, the technician confirmed a vibration from the vehicle's center at highway speeds, especially when plowing the gas pedal. The technician suspects the issue could be caused by a bad U-joint in the drive shaft.

After conducting a thorough vehicle health inspection, the technician found no issues related to the customer's concern. Therefore, they decided to conduct further testing to identify the root cause of the problem.

The technician asked an assistant to get in the vehicle and raised it on a lift. Next, they had the assistant start the car, press the gas pedal, and get the speedometer to around 50 mph. Next, while lightly applying the brake, the technician had the assistant release the gas pedal and press it a few seconds later hard.

During this test, the technician confirmed that the hanger bearing was causing vibrations.

The technician had the assistant shut off the vehicle and use the drive shaft to verify the issue. Finally, they found that the hanger bearing was failing and needed replacing. The technician did not notice any damage or movement in the U-joints.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Broken motor mounts

The proof image shows the broken and loose engine mounts that were moving the motor in an up and down motion and causing the issue.

A customer dropped off the vehicle and reported experiencing a problem. They explained that after getting stuck in the snow once, the vehicle started to lurch and make unusual noises accelerating. While trying to rock the vehicle back and forth to escape the snow drift, they heard a loud clunk. The problem persisted.

During a test drive, the technician noticed the same lurching issue and suspected the motor mounts might cause it. However, once the vehicle was in motion, the engine ran correctly. Upon conducting a routine vehicle health inspection, the technician found nothing related to the customer's concern.

To further investigate the issue, the technician had an assistant power brake the vehicle in both drive and reverse while observing the motor mounts. They discovered that the left-side engine mount was broken.

The other motor mounts appeared to be in good condition. However, the technician recommended replacing the broken left-side motor mount, which wasn't providing enough support to the engine and causing the vibrations. Finally, they saw the motor safely attached after all recommendations.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Faulty spark plug

The proof image shows coolant deposits on the fouled spark plug due to a failing head gasket leaking coolant into the combustion chamber and causing excess vibration.

A customer dropped off their vehicle and reported it was hesitating when accelerating. During the test drive, the technician noticed that the hesitation was more apparent when there was a heavier load on the engine. The technician also saw that the check engine light was on.

During the vehicle health inspection, the technician found nothing to explain the customer's concern. However, a vehicle code scan revealed a P0300 (random cylinder misfire) and a P0301 (cylinder one misfire detected).

The technician was authorized to perform additional diagnostics. So, they used a dedicated vehicle-specific scanner to verify the codes and check for live misfires. The technician found that cylinder one was randomly misfiring, and cylinder three had a few misfires.

Next, the technician removed the number one spark plug to understand better what was happening. They discovered coolant residue on the spark plug.

The technician put a pressure tester on the cooling system. Then, they forced regulated pressure into the cylinder with valves closed and watched if the pressure would build up in the cooling system.

As a result, the technician found pressure leaking from the combustion chamber into the cooling system, indicating that the head gasket was compromised. Finally, the technician recommends removing the heads for inspection to determine the necessary repairs.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Bent axle

In the proof image, you can see the damage to the wheel, which caused the axle hub to bend, resulting in uneven tire wear and excess vibrations.

A customer dropped off their vehicle and explained they had an accident, resulting in them sliding into a curb. Since then, they noticed a shaking in the car that worsened as they accelerated.

During a test drive, the technician noticed a wobbling in the car that felt like a tire was coming apart. Then, during the vehicle inspection, the technician saw that the left rear wheel was scuffed up badly, and when they spun the wheel and tire, it was wobbling.

The technician then removed the wheel and tire and put it on a tire balancer to spin it. The tire was a little out of balance but still spinning correctly. However, the technician then utilized a dial indicator on the hub face of the left rear hub and discovered the hub was bent.

The technician then concluded that the hub and bearing needed to be replaced and the tire balanced. In addition, they recommended an alignment to check for other bent or damaged suspension components. The reason for the shake in the car was due to the bent hub, which caused the wheel and tire to wobble.

In the proof image, you can see the damage to the wheel, which caused the axle hub to bend.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it

Typical Fixes to Address the Cause(s)

The following chapters bases themselves on experiences from our auto repair shop; we'll describe related problems' causes and fixes.

"Engine Mount Replacement" fixes "Broken motor mounts"

The AutoTechIQ ranking for Safety, Cost Avoidance, and Environmental Impact is

env level
env level
Cost Avoidancei
env level
env level
Environmental Impacti
env level
env level
Hey, Why Is My Car Shaking When Accelerating?
Sometimes a problem is more challenging to describe than it initially looked like. If you are not sure your problem is described by this article, please find below similar vehicle symptoms, which might describe better the issue you are experiencing.

Other things your auto repair shop might talk about:

Steering wheel. Stuck brake caliper. Car shakes. Car vibrates. Car shakes when accelerating. Brake pads. Brake pedal. Loose lug nuts. Worn out brake pads. Tire shop. Unbalanced tires. Car vibrating. Rear wheel drive. tire balance. bent wheel. front wheel drive cars. warped brake rotors. wheel bearings