It can be unnerving if your vehicle shakes when you step on the gas. A car that shakes when accelerating clearly has a problem. However, it’s important to identify what could cause this problem to know how to prevent it and also solve it when it happens.
If your car shakes when accelerating, it could be due to loose wheels, worn suspension components, or an engine misfire. Once this happens, it’s best to take your vehicle to a mechanic to have it checked out and fixed.
Read on for insight into the most common reasons behind a car shaking when accelerating, what you can do to fix the problem, and how to prevent it from happening again.
Things that can cause a car to shake when accelerating
The wheels are loose
The most common reason cars shake when accelerating is because the wheels are loose. Over time, the lug nuts that hold the wheels in place can become loose from the vibration of driving. When that happens, the wheels can wobble, causing the car to shake.
Tip: Ensure your lug nuts are tight and have the wheels balanced and aligned periodically to keep them from shaking.
In addition, here’s a cool video demo on how to diagnose your wheels for shaking:
The drive shaft is worn or damaged
Another reason your car might shake when accelerating is that the drive shaft is worn or damaged.
The drive shaft connects the wheels to the engine and helps power the car. If it’s damaged, it won’t do its job properly, and the vehicle will shake.
You have a buckled wheel
If you hit a pothole or curb too hard, you can damage the structure of your wheel. That’s called a buckled wheel, and it can cause your car to shake when accelerating.
Here are a few signs that you have a buckled wheel:
- The car pulls to one side when driving.
- The steering wheel is off-center when driving straight.
- There’s a bulge or dent in the rim of the wheel.
The car has an unbalanced wheel (wheel tracking is out)
If your car has an unbalanced wheel, it can cause it to shake when accelerating. When a wheel is unbalanced, it means that the weight of the tire and rim isn’t evenly distributed. That can happen if the tire is worn down unevenly or if the wheel is bent.
Tip: Get your wheels tracked and balanced regularly to prevent them from becoming unbalanced.
The car has a deformed tire
If your car has a deformed tire such as a tire bubble or worn-down walls. This can cause the vehicle to shake when accelerating. Tires can become distorted from:
- Hitting a curb
- Driving over potholes
- Daily wear and tear
When that happens, it can cause the car to shake. Learn more about why you shouldn’t drive on bald tires.
Here are a few signs that you have a misshapen tire:
- The tire is bulging on one side.
- The tread is worn down unevenly.
- There’s a bubble in the tire.
The car has a suspension problem
If your car has a suspension problem, it will shake when accelerating. The suspension system includes shocks and struts that help absorb the bumps in the road. If they’re damaged, they can’t do their job properly, and the car will shake.
Here are a few signs that you have a suspension problem:
- The car bounces up and down when driving over bumps.
- The car sways from side to side when making a turn.
- The car feels like it’s floating when driving at high speeds.
The car has a worn-down steering system
A worn-down steering system can cause your car to shake when accelerating.
The steering system includes the steering wheel, the column it’s attached to, and the linkage that connects it to the wheels. Over time, these parts can wear down and become loose. When that happens, the car will shake when in motion.
The engine is misfiring
The engine is the part of the car that powers it. If it’s not working correctly, it can cause the vehicle to shake when accelerating.
One of the most common reasons for an engine to misfire is a problem with the spark plugs. If they’re worn out or damaged, they can’t create the spark that’s needed to ignite the fuel. That can cause the engine to shake.
Tip: Get your spark plugs replaced every 48,000 kilometers (30,000 miles) or so to prevent them from causing problems.
The car is in the wrong gear when accelerating
If you’re driving a manual transmission car, one of the most common reasons for it to shake when accelerating is that it’s in the wrong gear.
When you’re accelerating, the engine speed increases. If you’re in too high of a gear, the engine will rev too high and cause the car to shake.
Tip: Downshift to a lower gear when accelerating to prevent the engine from revving too high.
What to do if your car shakes when accelerating
If your car is shaking when accelerating, take it to a mechanic as soon as possible. While there are some things you can check and fix yourself, most of the time, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. They will be able to quickly diagnose the problem and get your car back on the road.
If your car is shaking when you accelerate, it could be because of a number of different problems. Unless you can diagnose and fix the problem, it’s best to take it to a mechanic and let them figure out what’s wrong.
Remember, a car that shakes when accelerating can be dangerous. If you’re not sure what’s causing the problem, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid driving it until you can get it checked out.