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What Causes a Car to Jerk When Stopped?


You might have experienced frequent jerks while stopping the car if you are new to driving. That’s not a big problem since you are in a learning phase. But being a veteran driver and still encountering the same issue might be a bit embarrassing because now there’s something wrong with your car, and you don’t know that. That’s why it’s time to learn what causes a car to jerk when stopped.

Your car jerks when you stop it or drive at a constant speed because of a dirty fuel injector. That’s the most common reason because fuel injectors get clogged pretty easily. Moreover, a dirty fuel injector can’t produce enough power for the engine, due to which it will misfire.

Therefore, it’s important to notice the car’s performance, especially while pulling the brakes and driving at a constant speed.

Reasons and Solutions for Car Jerk While Stopping

We’ll discuss a few reasons with solutions that make your car jerk while stopping.


Dirty Fuel Injector

First, understand what a fuel injector is.

The gasoline you fuel your car with doesn’t go directly to the engine. There’s a complete cycle that includes:

  • Fuel Pump
  • Fuel Injector
  • Intake Manifold

The gasoline first goes into your car’s fuel tank and then goes into the fuel pump through pipelines. There’s no reaction happening there as the car is idle.

Once you start your car, the process begins.

The fuel injector will receive gasoline from the fuel pump. After that, it’s the job of a fuel injector to spray fuel inside the intake manifold. This manifold is in the form of chambers having several openings.

Now, when the fuel injector sprays gasoline into the manifold, the fuel is mixed with the air, making a combination suitable for the combustion process.

That mixture then goes into the combustion chamber, where it’s compressed. That compression produces the chemical energy required by the engine.

Now, the combustion process will never produce enough energy for the engine if the fuel injector is clogged with dirt.

Therefore, you have to take your car to a qualified mechanic and let them clean the injectors using the Berryman Fuel System and Injector Cleaner.

Besides, you can also DIY if you have expertise in the car engine and fuel injectors.

Incorrect Speed Sensor Reading

No doubt, cars that function electronically are cool. You have high-tech features to analyze speed, track distance, and switch driving modes with respect to the terrain.

However, all these features might go in vain if the speed sensor is giving wrong readings to ECU (Engine Control Unit) or TCU (Transmission Control Unit.) Why?

A speed sensor analyzes the movement of the wheel and forwards data to the ECU. The ECU then sends that data to the TCU, which upshifts or downshifts according to the speed.

Now, if the actual speed is not what TCU received, it will cause incorrect shifting in the gears. Thus, making the car jerk while driving or stopping.

In order to solve this issue, it’s better to take your car to an official automobile service center. Local mechanics might not be of any help because not everyone knows how to make adjustments or repair a faulty speed sensor.

Fuel Tank Blockage

Another common reason for car jerk while stopping is fuel tank blockage.

A fuel tank gets blocked due to

  • Clogging
  • Air Mixed With Fuel

In both cases, you might have to empty the fuel tank and do what’s necessary.

If the tank is clogged, you first have to take an empty container and transfer all the fuel into that container.

After the tank has no fuel left, you might find dirt and debris clogging the nozzle that connects the pipelines. These pipelines go to the fuel pump for the further combustion process.

Now, when the fuel tank is not delivering enough fuel, the engine will not receive enough energy to perform. Thus, the car will jerk.

Moreover, the engine will also stutter if air has been mixed with fuel.

So you have to empty the tank first and clean it thoroughly. After that, fill the tank with gasoline and drive again without any worry.

Faulty Clutch

The clutch plates wear out with time. Therefore, if you are facing the vehicle jerk issue in your manual car, that might be due to worn-out clutch plates.


Besides, the clutch plates can also get contaminated with oil leakage. That also affects the life expectancy of these plates.

When you depress the clutch in a manual car, it may squeal. That’s another sign that it’s time to check what’s wrong. Additionally, that squealing might lead to your car jerking whenever you shift gears or stop it.

To solve that, the best thing is to consult an expert mechanic and let them see the situation of your car’s clutch plates.

Have a look at the Barnett Performance Clutch Plate Kit.

Moist Distributor Cap

A distributor cap covers the internal parts of the car’s distributor. Also, it holds the connection between the spark plug wires and the rotor.

Now, your car will jerk, or the engine will misfire when the distributor cap becomes moist. Why?

Since it’s at the top of the plug wires, the spark can’t provide sufficient energy for the engine. That’s when you experience car jerks and engine misfiring.

The solution is to clear off the moisture from the distributor cap. Make sure you are cleaning it in a dry environment.

Use cotton fabric or any other soft absorbent for this purpose.

As a preventive measure, park your car inside a garage when it’s humid out there, especially at night. Moreover, make sure your car’s hood is properly closed. If it rains, the distributor cap will again catch moisture and become wet, compromising the spark.

So these are the reasons for car jerk while stopping.

You can follow these methods and see if the problem is fixed. However, you have to quickly consult an automobile expert if the car jerk issue persists.


Car jerking while stopping is quite dangerous, especially when you are in traffic. Therefore, take quick notice and make sure your car is not facing this problem anymore.

Once you solve that issue, you can enjoy a seamless driving experience on your manual or automatic ride.

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