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Why is My Car Jerking When Slowing Down?

It is never comfortable to feel your car jerking when you are slowing down and braking. Most of us immediately think something is wrong.

However, if you have an automatic transmission, it is possible that something is wrong with your car. 

Why Is My Car Jerking When Slowing Down?

When your car jerk, it is a feeling more than a sound that your car creates. You usually feel vibrations that happen rapidly. It is almost like your car has gasped for air.

Most often, when a vehicle jerks while slowing down, it is caused by there being an imbalance between the air and fuel going to the engine. There are various parts and components that may cause this imbalance, so it is essential to troubleshoot.

In addition, a problem with your brakes or tires may also cause your car to jerk. You may have a blocked fuel filter.

The filter filters impurities and keeps them away from your engine, but when it is dirty, it cannot stop dirt and debris. They end up going into your engine and could cause it to cause a sudden jerk.

The mass airflow sensor determines if there is a balance of air and fuel going into the engine. If the sensor fails, it causes an imbalance between the two and could over fuel or under fuel your car.

This may also cause your vehicle to jerk. A faulty throttle position sensor may also cause your car to jerk. The sensor determines the position of the throttle, and when it fails, it may cause your car to jerk.

Finally, when you have a damaged or misaligned tire, it can cause your vehicle to pull and jerk.

Something as simple as metal, glass, or a nail can damage your tire enough to pull it out of alignment. 

What is the Meaning of Car Jolting?

As cars have become more complex, it becomes harder for drivers to understand what is happening with their vehicles. Another complexity is that the symptoms can add up to many different causes.

While there are many causes, there are some common causes that you should be aware of.

Usually, when your car jolts, it happens in the morning when the engine is cold or while accelerating. Sometimes, it can even occur when you are cruising at an even speed with no actual acceleration or deceleration.

You may have spark plugs that are bad. The spark plugs deliver an electrical current to the ignition. This current ignites the air and fuel combination to send power to the engine. Once you change the spark plugs, that resolves the problem. 

If moisture builds up in the distributor cap, it can cause your car to jolt and jerk. The car’s distributor is an essential part of your ignition system. Your vehicle may have an ignition coil that has a distributor.

When moisture is present, it builds up and prevents the coil from sending the necessary electricity to the spark plugs. When the spark plugs do not have the voltage they need, they can not operate correctly.

More modern cars have a coil-on-plug system that does not require a distributor cap.

This moisture build-up often happens when your car is outside in an area that is rainy and cold often. When you start your vehicle, it may begin to jerk. There are some simple fixes to this problem.

If you allow your car to dry out for about 20 minutes before you drive your vehicle, this should resolve your issue. You can also consider parking your vehicle inside a garage, especially when the weather is rainy or snowy.

You can also add a thermal cover to help reduce any moisture and prevent build-up.

Why Does My Car Jerk When Braking?

There are a number of reasons why your car may jerk while you are braking. However, there are some legitimate reasons why your car jerk while you are braking.

One of those reasons could be because the computer in your car senses the slowing down of your vehicle, and it begins to downshift the transmission. This causes your car to jerk. 

Some additional concerns that may cause your car to jerk when you brake involve your brakes. You may also hear squeaking, grinding, squealing from your brakes or rotors. You may also feel the vibration as you begin to apply the brakes and slow down.

Sometimes, you may feel the car jerk to one side. There could be several different problems with your brakes causing these symptoms. First, you may have air in your brake lines. If that is the case, you need to or have someone bleed your brakes.

You may also find that it is time to replace your brake pads. Second, your rotors may also be causing the problem. Your rotors become worn over time as you apply the brakes in your car.

If that is the case, you may need to resurface or replace the rotors. 

Newer vehicles have an antilock brake system (ABS). This system helps your car stop safely.

This system helps, especially when the conditions are slick, such as during rain. The ABS is a system that includes an electronic control module, a hydraulic control unit, and sensors.

Typically, when the ABS fails, you see the light on your instrument panel to warn you about the failure.

Debris or metal shavings in the system or sensor wiring failures may cause the system to fail. 

It would be best if you considered checking your tires to make sure they have enough air in them.

Next, you want to check the tread on your tires to make sure they are not worn and need replacing.

Finally, you want to make sure your tires are wearing evenly because uneven wear can cause some of these problems. 

What Causes My Engine to Jerk?

If you have a manual transmission, you may feel your engine jerk while you are slowing down. This often happens when you are going too slow for the gear in which the car is in.

If you push the clutch in and downshift, this stops your vehicle from jerking. However, if you are close to stopping, you want to keep the clutch pressed while shifting to neutral. 

When you have an automatic transmission and your car jerks, not only can you physically feel it, but you can also see it on the rev counter on your dashboard.

You will be able to see the rev counter climb or descend, but then it stops for a moment or two, and then you will see it start again. It is possible to feel your car jerk when you are braking or when you are accelerating.

In either case, the car is not functioning properly and may be unsafe to drive.

You want to make sure that you determine the cause as quickly as you can. 

You may have dirty fuel injectors. This is a common reason why your car may jerk, especially while accelerating. The fuel injector gives your cylinders and a steady stream of fuel to allow them to fire properly.

If the fuel injector is dirty, it cannot provide a steady stream of fuel. This means the engine does not receive enough fuel to burn. This often causes your car to jerk or misfire.

When the fuel injectors are dirty, they just need a good cleaning to work properly and send a steady stream of fuel to the cylinders.

A blocked air intake can also cause your car to jerk. The air intake pulls air in from the outside. From there, the air mixes with fuel to ignite the fuel by way of the spark plugs.

When the air intake has a block, the car is not able to bring in the amount of air it needs. There is also an air sensor that determines if your vehicle pulls in all the air it needs.

Typically, the sensor would alert you if the car is not getting enough air, so you can address the problem. However, when the sensor is not working, it does not alert you there is a problem.

Either one or both of these problems impacts the combustion process, and your car does not run smoothly. When the vehicle is not running smoothly, it jerks. Another issue that a blocked intake or faulty sensor causes are your vehicles uses an incorrect amount of fuel.

This often causes poor fuel consumption. As a result of poor consumption, you may see that your car gets fewer miles to the galloon when you have a blocked intake. 

When your car has low levels of transmission fluid, it may cause your transmission to shake or jerk, especially when you are making a shift change.

If you are noticing a lot of jerking and shaking when you shift gears, you may have bad engine mounts.

They may cause your entire vehicle to move.