Why Does My Car Shake When I Accelerate? Common Causes and What to Do


Why Does My Car Shake When I Accelerate

Feeling your car vibrate or shake during acceleration can be an unsettling experience. While some minor tremors may not seem like a big deal, significant shaking is often an indicator of an underlying issue that needs prompt attention.

Left unchecked, these vibrations could lead to further component damage or even compromise your safety on the road. So, what exactly causes a car to shake when you hit the gas pedal? Let’s explore some of the most common culprits.

Common Causes of Car Shaking When Accelerating

There are several potential reasons why your vehicle may start shimmying or vibrating during acceleration. Here are some of the most frequent offenders:

a. Misaligned Wheels

Misaligned Wheels

Proper wheel alignment is crucial for smooth and stable driving. When your wheels are out of alignment, it can cause excessive vibrations, especially at higher speeds or during acceleration.

As you step on the gas, the misaligned wheels struggle to roll smoothly, resulting in shakiness that gets progressively worse the faster you go. To avoid this issue, it’s recommended to have your wheel alignment checked periodically, particularly after any major incidents like hitting a pothole or curb.

b. Suspension Problems

Your car’s suspension system plays a vital role in providing a comfortable and controlled ride. When components like shocks, struts, or other suspension parts wear out, it can lead to excessive bouncing and vibrations, especially during acceleration.

You may notice that your car continues to bounce or shimmy long after going over a bump, indicating that the suspension is no longer effectively dampening these movements.

c. Combustion Problems

Issues within the engine’s combustion process can also manifest as shaking during acceleration. Faulty spark plugs, clogged fuel injectors, or other problems that cause misfiring or uneven power delivery can create noticeable vibrations as you press the gas pedal.

In some cases, you may also experience rough idling or a general loss of power accompanying the shaking sensation.

d. Exhaust System Concerns

Your car’s exhaust system is designed to channel exhaust gases away from the engine efficiently. However, leaks, loose connections, or damaged components within the exhaust can allow those gases to escape improperly, creating vibrations that are often felt during acceleration.

You may also hear louder rumbling or drone-like noises coming from the exhaust area when this is the case.

e. Wheel Hub or Bearing Issues

The wheel hubs and bearings play a crucial role in ensuring that your wheels spin smoothly and without excessive play.

When these components start to fail, it can allow too much movement or looseness in the wheels, leading to shimmying or vibrations, especially during acceleration when more force is being exerted.

Ignoring worn wheel bearings can eventually lead to complete bearing failure and potential wheel separation, making this issue a safety concern.

f. Brake Problems

Brake Problems

While you may not immediately associate brake issues with acceleration vibrations, problems like stuck brake calipers or warped brake rotors can cause your car to shake or pulsate during acceleration.

If you notice a pulsation or vibration felt through the brake pedal when accelerating, it’s likely an indication that your brakes need attention.

g. Transmission Troubles

In some cases, the root cause of acceleration vibrations may lie within your car’s transmission or torque converter.

Issues like a slipping transmission, worn bands, or torque converter problems can all contribute to shaking sensations, often most noticeable when accelerating from a stop or low speeds.

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Car Shakes When Accelerating but Not When Coasting

If you’ve noticed that your car only seems to shake or vibrate during acceleration but not when coasting or maintaining a constant speed, there’s a logical explanation.

When you accelerate, you’re essentially putting more load and stress on various components within your vehicle’s drivetrain and suspension systems. Issues like worn engine or transmission mounts, cupped or uneven tire wear, or other problems may only become apparent under these increased loads during acceleration.

Acceleration Vibrations? Check These 5 Areas First

While there are many potential causes of acceleration vibrations, here are five common areas you’ll want to investigate first:

  1. Damaged Inner CV Joint
Damaged Inner CV Joint

The constant velocity (CV) joints are responsible for transferring power from your transmission to the wheels while allowing for the necessary flexibility in the drivetrain.

If the protective CV boot becomes torn or damaged, it can allow contaminants like dirt and moisture to enter and degrade the joint. A damaged inner CV joint can cause significant vibrations, especially during acceleration when more force is being exerted.

  1. Broken Motor Mounts

Your engine is securely mounted to the frame or subframe of your vehicle using motor mounts. These mounts are designed to dampen vibrations and prevent excessive engine movement.

If these mounts become excessively worn or broken, it can allow the entire engine and drivetrain to shift and vibrate during acceleration.

  1. Unbalanced Tires

Properly balanced tires are essential for a smooth ride, and an out-of-balance condition can lead to noticeable vibrations or wobbling, especially at higher speeds.

As you accelerate, these imbalances become more pronounced, causing shaking that worsens the faster you go. Regular tire balancing and rotation can help mitigate this issue.

  1. Loose Lug Nuts

While it may seem like a minor issue, loose lug nuts can actually pose a serious safety hazard and contribute to acceleration vibrations. If the lug nuts aren’t properly tightened to the correct torque specifications, it can allow the wheel to wobble or potentially even separate from the vehicle entirely during acceleration.

  1. Worn Constant Velocity (CV) Axles

The CV axles are responsible for transferring power from the transmission to the wheels while allowing for the necessary steering and suspension movement. If these axles become excessively worn or damaged, it can lead to significant vibrations, especially during acceleration when more torque is being transmitted.

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Frequently Ask Question

How do you fix a car that shakes when accelerating?

To address a car shaking during acceleration, start by checking for issues such as misaligned wheels, suspension problems, or unbalanced tires. Professional inspection and repair may be necessary for more serious underlying issues.

Why does my car shake when accelerating but not when coasting?

Shaking during acceleration could indicate issues with components like motor mounts or CV joints, which come under stress when power is applied. Coast-related shaking might suggest issues like brake problems or wheel balance.

Why does my car shake when I speed up?

Speed-related shaking might point to problems with wheel balance, suspension components, or even engine issues. A thorough inspection by a qualified mechanic can diagnose and resolve the specific cause.

Why is my car shuddering on acceleration?

Shuddering during acceleration can stem from various sources such as worn-out engine mounts, fuel system problems, or transmission issues. Addressing these underlying causes is crucial to ensure smooth and safe driving.

Is it safe to drive a shuddering car?

Continuing to drive a car experiencing significant shaking or shuddering during acceleration could pose safety risks and potentially worsen underlying mechanical issues. It’s advisable to have the vehicle inspected and repaired promptly by a qualified mechanic.


If your car is shaking or vibrating during acceleration, it’s important to have the issue diagnosed and addressed promptly. What may start as a minor annoyance can gradually worsen and potentially lead to further component damage or even safety concerns if left unchecked.

Remember, a smooth and controlled acceleration is not only more enjoyable for driving but also essential for maintaining proper vehicle control and maximizing safety on the road. If you’re experiencing persistent shaking or vibrations, don’t hesitate to have a qualified mechanic thoroughly inspect your vehicle to identify and resolve the underlying cause.

By staying proactive and addressing acceleration vibrations promptly, you can help ensure a smoother, safer, and more enjoyable driving experience for years to come.Copy

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