15 Strong Reasons Your Car Shakes When Accelerating & How to Fix It

The age and the lack of regular maintenance may cause car vibrations and shake while driving. However, some car components may also cause these symptoms that you should not ignore. Although a car shaking when accelerating is often associated with engine mounts, this particular issue might indicate the presence of more complex problems.

Car shakes when accelerating is a common issue experienced by many car owners. Although it is not considered severe, this inconvenience may trigger more complex and more expensive problems if left untreated.

Car shaking when accelerating might result from different issues – from unbalanced tires to more comprehensive engine troubles. The solution to this issue depends mostly on when you are experiencing vibrations – whether when starting the car, accelerating, or when your car shakes at high speed.

Keep reading to find out the answers to why you feel vibration when accelerating, what different components cause your car to shake, and signs that you need to have your auto checked.

Why Does My Car Shake When I Accelerate?

If you notice that your car vibrates when accelerating, it can be for various reasons. Still, we have created the list with the 15 most common causes and their most effective solutions.

1. Steering Wheel Issues

Steering Wheel Issues

When you switch from the old to the new car (same model), you will notice a slight difference in the steering wheels. The new steering wheel will be quicker and more responsive than the old one.

However, it only applies to comparing the same vehicles. It’ll not be the same when you compare a new limousine to an old sports vehicle. Different cars need different steering capabilities as some are more superior to others. Therefore, we can agree that steering wheels wear out over time. It’ll be difficult for any driver to realize the changes in their steering wheel’s response since it degrades gradually.

Your steering wheel connects to the 4 wheels of your car. So many joints and moving components are required to perform efficiently at high speeds. If they wear out, they reduce the steering wheels’ function. Even though you’ll still steer, the damaged joints will cause vibrations over time.

The steering wheel issues are quite complicated, and you should leave their repair to professionals.

Solution: Steering wheel vibrations are usually caused by wheel misalignment. A wheel alignment service can help stop the shaking by making sure all the wheels are positioned evenly. When the vehicle is out of alignment, you may notice that the tires wear unevenly, leading to steering wheel vibrations and other issues resulting in an unpleasant drive. If your steering wheel shakes when accelerating, it means a front tire is out of balance.

2. Broken Engine Mounts

Broken Engine Mounts

The primary purpose of engine mounts is to attach a motor to the frame of the car. Its second goal is to absorb engine vibration so the drivers don’t feel the constant vibrating or shaking of the motor while running.

Mounts are made from a hard rubber material, which enables them to absorb these vibrations. When the mount is broken or damaged, you will feel excess vibration, but other parts in the motor can also get misaligned and break since the engine isn’t in its precise location.

You’ll feel a lousy motor mount when idling, but the shaking can be more noticeable under acceleration as the motor has to work hard. Keep in mind that when an engine mount is broken, the other mounts now bear more load and are more likely to fail. Typically, they should last between 5-7 years. However, it’s a good thing to have them checked regularly during every engine service.

Solution: The best way to reduce vibrations due to damaged engine mounts is to replace them. Worn engine mounts lead to vibrations, noises, and the “rocky start,” manifested through a lurch when starting the vehicle or turning the ignition off.

3. Unbalanced Tires

Unbalanced Tires

If you have recently installed new tires and noticed your car vibrating while accelerating, it may result from unbalanced tires. Once a tire is mounted on a wheel, it’ll never have the same weight all the way around.

To correct this, a tire technician will mount the tire/wheel assembly on a balancer and put small wheel weights on the rim in specific areas to make the balance ideal. As a tire rotates, any small weight imbalance will cause a little vibration.

At higher speeds, the vibration will be more intensive, and your steering wheel will shake. If your car quakes at a constant speed and worsens when your vehicle goes faster, you likely have an unbalanced tire(s). It’s also possible that one of the adhesive wheel weights fell off.

Solution: To repair unbalanced tires, take your vehicle to the tire shop and let technicians perform the wheel alignment. Shaking and vibrations caused by unbalanced tires should be addressed quickly as wheel misalignment often leads to more complicated issues, making your ride less and less comfortable.

4. Disconnected/Torn Vacuum Hose

Disconnected-Torn Vacuum Hose

An issue with a vacuum hose can produce severe shuttering or shaking of a car while driving. If a vacuum hose disconnects or develops an air leak due to a small tear, the lack of air pressure can induce the confusion of various sensors. It commonly leads to backfires, misfires, losing power, and other troubles where the motor doesn’t run smoothly.

Check all hoses to ensure they’re attached and are free of holes and tears. Use a small clamp to reconnect hoses that are too loose on the fitting. Keep in mind that hoses on turbocharged vehicles are even more prone to disconnecting..

Solution: Aside from using small clamps to reattach the disconnected vacuum hose, you can replace it with strong silicone vacuum hoses. The silicone vacuum hoses tend to be a more long-lasting solution because they lower the risk of the problem happening again

5. Stuck Brake Caliper

Stuck Brake Caliper

When the brake caliper on a wheel is faulty, causing it to stick, you may notice substantial vibration during acceleration. In this case, the steering wheel will be what vibrates as you reach about 40-50 mph. Additionally, the quakes will worsen as you speed up. When you stop, you’ll notice a burning-like odor coming from the car.

If you suspect a stuck brake caliper, you’ll need to check all parts of the brake system, paying particular attention to the caliper piston, slides, and bolts. Sometimes, re-lubricating and cleaning the parts is required, but failed brake components will have to be replaced.

Solution: If you notice vibrations in your car or truck while braking or simply moving, something may be wrong with your brake caliper. Many factors may make your caliper stick. By fixing them, you can restore the brake caliper’s optimum function, reducing vibrations or shaking on your car, truck, or RV.

  • Caliper slides: The brake caliper contains grooves that hold the brake pads. When brake pads stick in the grooves, drivers may notice difficulty stopping. The brake pads often get stuck due to debris, but their function can also be affected by other factors. If cleaning the grooves doesn’t work, it means that they are wearing down. In that case, the caliper needs replacement.
  • Caliper bolts: The caliper bolts have slides, which have rubber boots that keep them lubricated. When the rubber boots tear, the bolts will dry out. As a result, the brakes may stick. A certified technician can help you solve this particular issue.
  • Brake hose: If a brake hose wears out, the brake fluid will probably flow one way. It may cause the brake pads to slow the vehicle. It commonly results in a stuck caliper, which later leads to vibrations and shaking.

Overall, the best way to prevent car shaking when accelerating, braking, or driving is to take regular and proper care of your vehicle’s brakes.

6. Broken U-Joint

Broken U-Joint

You need to do some close-up inspection when a car shakes when accelerating only. One of the fastest methods to determine a u-joint (universal joint) problem is to examine the bottom of the vehicle. If there is brownish dust at the end of the driveshaft, it means the bearings or something inside is beginning to rust and break apart.

Faulty u-joints usually apply to SUVs, trucks, and rear-wheel-drive cars. Bad u-joints can affect your ride, causing clunking, jerkiness, and vibration, especially when reaching certain speeds. Luckily, a u-joint replacement is a simple and inexpensive repair. Therefore, it is essential to fix it on time because once the u-joint breaks down completely, the driveshaft will disconnect from the car and damage your transmission, making your vehicle useless until it’s fixed.

Solution: It’s possible to remove and replace universal joint yourself, but this demands more than a little patience and skill. Letting professionals remove and replace broken u-joint is the best way to avoid making things worse.

7. Damaged CV Joint

Damaged CV Joint

Constant velocity joints (CV joints) are located at the end of each axle. There is both an inner and outer joint. When the inner CV joint is damaged or starts to fail, you will notice your vehicle vibrating under hard acceleration. As it gets worse, the slight vibrations turn to severe shaking when under load.

Damaged constant velocity joints usually occur due to a tear in the joint boot. When this happens, dirt and water get inside the boot and contaminate the grease that protects the splines. Without adequate lubrication, the metal on metal contact eventually produces failure.

Solution: The only solution is to replace the CV joint completely.

8. Bent Axle

Bent Axle

If you unintentionally drive over a large rock, curb, or have some minor accident, don’t assume everything is all right because you don’t see any noticeable damages. The incident could cause an axle to get bent, which is dangerous. In that case, you may notice vibrations from the vehicle, which begin to get worse as you go faster.

Solution: Like the driveshaft, you’ll have to replace a bent axle straight away. Otherwise, you are at risk of causing further and more expensive damage.

9. Bent Driveshaft

Bent Driveshaft

If your vehicle has RWD (rear-wheel drive), power from the motor to the rear axle and connected wheels is transferred via the driveshaft (propeller shaft). If the propeller shaft is slightly bent or damaged (frequently due to an accident), it’ll cause the car shakes when accelerating at low speed. Vibrations and shaking tend to worsen as you speed up.

Solution: In case of a damaged or bent driveshaft, the drive shaft tubing must be replaced. It is also recommended to check other components for damage to prevent further inconveniences.

10. Faulty Spark Plugs

Faulty Spark Plugs

If your car shakes when accelerating but not when coasting, it could be due to faulty spark plugs. Therefore, your vehicle is not getting enough spark, fuel, or air to run smoothly. You’ll notice that your car’s shaking will increase when you try to accelerate or press down on the gas pedal. The engine may vibrate abnormally, which leads to a loss of power and a loss of proper timing for ignition and fuel.

Solution: A faulty spark plug prevents the fuel-air mixture from getting properly ignited in the cylinders, resulting in a misfire. Since cylinders can misfire at running speeds or during idling, your engine might start vibrating. It’s crucial to install new spark plugs as soon as you notice these issues to prevent further complications.

11. Power Steering Issues

Power Steering Issues

The power steering issue is easy to identify if it happens only when you’re turning. You’ll even notice the shaking when you’re driving slower. Power steering problems may result from different factors, including loss of fluid, clog in the system, air in the system, or worn pump. These issues should be solved on time because, aside from being quite annoying, they can be extremely dangerous.

Solution: The first thing you should do is inspect the power steering system’s hoses for any leaks, cracks, or damage. The next successful method is to top off the fluid. It’ll take a bit for fluid to circulate through the system and stop vibrating. You should also check it periodically to ensure you eliminated the cause to avoid further problems. However, if you still feel vibrations, run the car or truck down to the car repair shop. You should leave these repairs to the certified mechanics.

12. Damaged Radiator Fan

Damaged Radiator Fan

A damaged or cracked fan won’t hamper the motor operation in any way, but it will lead to car shakes when accelerating at high speeds. When you start the vehicle, the fan attempts to turn, but it wobbles instead due to the broken condition. The wobbling will shake the car sideways, especially when you accelerate.

Solution: A broken radiator fan is usually out of balance, causing substantial vibrations when rotating. It is recommended to have it checked by licensed technicians to lower the risk of further problems.

13. Loose Lug Nuts

Loose Lug Nuts

Loose lug nuts (wheel nuts) seem like a minor complication, but they can lead to far worse problems. If wheel nuts loosened or torqued up during the time, the wheels will become shaky, and while accelerating, it’ll seem like the car is shaking. If the nuts are left untightened, they could loosen all the way out, and your wheel could fall off during riding. You don’t want that scenario. Therefore, don’t stop making sure that you’re using the proper nut size.

Solution: You can choose to fix wheel nuts yourself or have them fixed by certified technicians.

14. Clogged Fuel Intake System

Clogged Fuel Intake System

Clogged fuel injectors or a dirty fuel filter can cause rough idling and car shaking. Dealing with a clogged fuel injector may not be visible in the beginning. You might notice a slightly rough idle, but the car will normally run, even under acceleration. However, once the injector becomes fully clogged, it will start creating a cylinder misfire all the time.

Solution: One of the symptoms of a clogged fuel injector is the “Check Engine” light on your dashboard. You can try to replace the fuel filter or fuel injector yourself. However, if it does not fix the shaking, you should bring your car to a repair shop.

15. Worn Timing Belt

Worn Timing Belt

When your timing belt is misadjusted or worn out, you may experience engine vibrations. The problems with other belts, including the serpentine belt, might also affect your engine and its critical parts, leading to strange noises and shaking.

The main purpose of the timing belt is to make sure all the moving parts of the engine work properly, without the risk of accidentally colliding and damaging the engine. These belts are made from rubber, which is why they can become brittle and get stretched out over time. Once the timing belt gets stretched, your engine’s moving parts will get out of sync, resulting in vibrations that feel throughout the car.

Solution: The best way to fix this issue is to replace the old timing belt with the new one. That way, the moving parts of your engine will work in harmony with each other.