Car Shakes When Accelerating

Having your vehicle shake or vibrate when pressing down on the accelerator can be alarming and disruptive. While shaking when accelerating is often a sign of bigger issues, there are also some common and minor causes behind the problem. Understanding the most likely culprits behind a shaking car when accelerating can help you diagnose and correct the problem.

Engine Misfires

One of the most common reasons a car shakes when accelerating from a stop or low speed is an engine misfire. This occurs when one or more of the engine’s cylinders fails to fire properly, causing uneven power delivery and shaking. Faulty spark plugs, bad wiring, bad fuel injectors, or improper fuel pressure could be causing misfires. Replacing spark plugs and wires is a good place to start.

Loose/Damaged Motor Mounts

Motor mounts hold the engine firmly in place and are designed to dampen engine vibrations. Over time, the rubber in motor mounts can crack and deteriorate, allowing more engine shaking and vibration to transfer through the chassis when accelerating. Replacing worn motor mounts will often solve shaking issues. Loose engine accessories can also contribute to shaking.

Transmission Issues

Transmission problems like low fluid, worn clutch plates, or damaged gears can cause vibrations and shaking when accelerating as the transmission struggles to send power to the wheels properly. Checking the transmission fluid level is a good start. If it is low or has particles in it, the transmission may need repair.

Driveshaft Problems

The driveshaft connects the transmission to the rear differential, spinning to transfer power to the wheels. If the driveshaft is unbalanced or has become bent or damaged, it can cause significant vibrations when accelerating. Driveshaft issues usually require replacement of the driveshaft.

Wheel Balance and Alignment

When the wheels of a vehicle are out of balance or alignment, it can cause shaking when driving and accelerating. Unbalanced tires will need to be rebalanced, and alignment issues fixed with an alignment service. Bad wheel bearings can also cause wheels to wobble while accelerating.

Loose Suspension Parts

Worn control arm bushings, ball joints, sway bar links, and shock absorbers can all contribute to shaking and loss of control when accelerating. As suspension components wear, they introduce play into the system. Inspecting and replacing any loose or damaged parts will be needed.

Accurately diagnosing the cause of your car’s shaking when accelerating takes time and diligent troubleshooting. Start with easier fixes like spark plugs and engine mounts first. If the shaking persists, you may need to inspect the transmission, driveshaft, wheel balance, alignment, and suspension components. Addressing any underlying issues will improve driveability and safety.

When to Seek Professional Help

While you can replace simple parts like spark plugs and mounts yourself, repairs like realigning wheels, replacing axles, or transmission work should be done by a professional mechanic. Seek help from a trusted mechanic if you cannot find the cause or lack the skills for major repairs.

Preventing Future Issues

Once you’ve resolved a shaking issue, you can take proactive maintenance steps to prevent it from recurring. These include:

  • Replace worn components like mounts and bushings before they fail
  • Rotate and balance tires every 5,000 miles
  • Keep up with transmission fluid changes
  • Address any new vibration issues right away before they intensify

Taking care of your vehicle and handling problems promptly will minimize shaking and maximize your safety on the road.


A car that shakes when accelerating can quickly go from annoying to dangerous if left unattended. By understanding the most common causes and listening closely to your vehicle’s vibrations, you can help diagnose and correct the problem. Seeking help from a professional mechanic is advisable for major repairs. With some diligent troubleshooting and maintenance, you can get your car running smooth again.

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