Why Your Car Jerks When Stopped (Causes)

When your car is stopped, you notice that it jerks. Suddenly, just as you stepped on the brakes, the car jolted as you slowed down at a red light or pulled up to your garage.

There may be some jerking when a car comes to a stop if you have poor driving skills or there are loose components, but this isn’t a concern. It is possible, however, that you are suffering from a more serious issue if your car still jerks after applying the brakes properly.

Why Your Car Jerks When Stopped (Causes)

Failure of a transmission system can result in a faulty brake system, a faulty throttle body, or a faulty transmission control solenoid. A mechanic should inspect the car when it is stopped, idled, accelerated, or driven to prevent the car from jerking or jolting.

The Key takeaways

  • You might experience jerky performance when you stop your car if your transmission is contaminated, your transmission filter is dirty, and the transmission fluid level is low.
  • You may notice jerking in your car when it stops due to faulty transmission parts, such as the torque converter, shift solenoids, and speed sensor.
  • Your vehicle may also jerk while stopped if the brakes are faulty, the brake discs are deformed, the brake calipers are seized, the anti-lock braking system is malfunctioning, or you have a bad ignition coil.

Why Car Jerks When Stopped: Causes To Know

When a car is stopped, why does it jerk? There are a number of possible causes for this jarring experience, including:

Transmission failure

There is a potential problem with the transmission system as the first suspect. Transmissions are responsible for connecting your car’s engine to its wheels and shifting gears. It is possible to experience bumps and jolts when slowing down for parking if your transmission is faulty. It is possible for your transmission to behave this way for a variety of reasons.

Dirty Transmission Filter

Transmission filters prevent contaminants in transmission fluid from getting into the transmission pump and causing transmission problems throughout the entire system. Low fluid pressure in the system occurs when the filter is clogged, preventing the pump from siphoning enough fluid. As you shift gears, you’ll also experience slips and jerks.

Low or Contaminated Transmission Fluid

In transmission systems, transmission fluid is used to lubricate, clean, and cool the different components. You may experience jerking when shifting gears to stop the car if your transmission fluid is low. As a result of contaminating transmission fluid, slippage as well as a decrease in hydraulic power can also result.

Bad Torque Converter

The torque converter might be to blame if your car jerks when you’re in drive on an automatic transmission. Torque converters and torque converter clutches serve the same purpose in automatic transmissions as clutches do in manual transmissions. In addition to preventing your engine from stalling when you stop your vehicle, the torque converter enhances your vehicle’s pulling power when needed. You might notice your car shuddering at different speeds if the converter is acting up.

Clogged Air Filter

As well as the engine’s vacuum, the air control valve determines how much load the engine can handle. It is possible for the air filter to become clogged due to dirt. When the car is stopped at red lights or idling, it can result in jerks caused by reduced air volume or power production.

Dirty Fuel Injectors

Continual engine misfires can cause fuel injectors to get dirty, causing cars to lose power and jerk. The engine should stutter in this case. Keeping the fuel injector clean will help you avoid this problem. Injector cleaners are useful for cleaning heavily carbonized injectors, making the procedure simpler.

Having problems with anti-lock brakes

While your car is moving, the anti-lock braking system (ABS) detects when the wheel stops rotating. In response to this information, the brake fluid pressure is adjusted by the car’s computer to prevent a lock. Your brakes will behave strangely when the ABS doesn’t work properly, including jolting when you stop.

A faulty ignition coil or coil pack

Your engine’s spark plugs are ignited by high-voltage sparks generated by the ignition coil. During low speeds or when you stop, a damaged coil pack can cause your engine to misfire, which will result in jerky steering.

There are likely to be many reasons why your car jerks when coming to a stop, so diagnosing the exact cause may prove difficult. A mechanic should be consulted to determine the cause of this strange behavior since there are a number of possible causes.

Bad Shift Solenoids

Your automatic transmission shifts gears with the aid of shift solenoids, which control fluid flow in the hydraulic circuit. Incorrect activation or deactivation of these sensors can cause your gears to shift incorrectly, causing your car to jerk.

Bad Speed Sensor

You may also feel a jolt while stopped if your automatic car’s speed sensor malfunctions. There is a connection between the speed sensor and the transmission shift solenoids. It alerts them when it is time to shift gears. You may experience jerks or vibrations when you stop your car if your speed sensor is not functioning properly. This can lead to flawed messages being sent to your powertrain control module (PCM).

Faulty Brakes

When your car comes to a stop, it may jerk due to brake system problems. This problem can occur because of a number of components in the brakes. 

Brake Disc Deformation

Your car uses brake torque to slow down when it brakes, which is the job of brake discs, which are also called rotors. In order to remain safe and functional, these discs need to be replaced periodically. As your brake discs wear down unevenly over time, they shudder or pulse when you brake. Discs need to be replaced if this occurs.

Seized Brake Calipers

During wheel braking, brake pads are squeezed against rotors by brake calipers. If a caliper is worn, rusted, or damaged, it might seize. Due to this, the caliper latches on to one wheel but does not release it, causing the brakes to drag. Known as a frozen or sticky caliper, when a caliper drags like this, it’s also called a frozen caliper. When uneven braking occurs, there is a jolt.

What is the best way to stop a car without jerking?

It is possible to stop your car without feeling jerked if you use some effective tricks. When the vehicle slows down, let off the brake pedal gradually to ensure consistent braking forces. By focusing on the jump or jerk only at the end, you will have trouble maintaining the right timing. When you’re braking, try to feel your foot lifting naturally so you can get closer to stopping.        

What is the best way to stop a car without jerking?

In this case, pull back the brake pedal a little bit and press it again gently when your vehicle gets close to stopping. Instead of backing off completely, keep the car slowed down by pulling just enough to keep it slow. Bring the car to a slow stop. Keep your vehicle at least 10 feet from your destination when you stop. Your brake pedal will be pressed later the slower you go.

Apply consistent brake pressure while driving at a reasonable speed. After a while, the braking will become more extreme, and then it will shoot up.

When is it normal for a car to jerk?

Ideally, the brake pad would grip harder when the wheels were almost stopped, causing a little jerk as a result. At the end of a complete stop, you get a little bounce called inertia. There is nothing wrong with your vehicle if it jerks because of this reason when it is stopped. Taking care while driving can also prevent this kind of jerk from occurring.

When is it normal for a car to jerk

For a smooth stop, most of the pressure is absorbed by the shocks and struts at the front. The brake pedal can jerk your vehicle when trying to stop if a nut between the pedal and steering wheel is loose. There is nothing dangerous about this type of jerking. As a final precaution, a good driver lets off the brakes just before braking to avoid such jerks.

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Why car jerk when idle and accelerating?

A dirty fuel injector, clogged catalytic converter, or damaged fuel pump are among the many reasons why your car jerks and judders when idle and accelerating. When a spark plug is worn out, the engine can misfire, causing jerking and shuttering as you accelerate. In this case, all spark plugs need to be replaced.

Why do my car jerk while driving at a constant speed?

There can be a variety of reasons why your car jerks forward at constant speed. There are several possible causes, including the catalytic converter, the gas lines, the accelerator cable, or the mass airflow sensor. In order to fix such an issue, your car needs a thorough diagnostic and inspection.

Why does my car jerk while slowing down?

It may be the result of clogged fuel injectors, leaking transmissions, damaged MAF meters, or worn engine mounts if your vehicle jerks when slowing down or decelerating. If you want to fix the problem, you must inspect the brake system, the ABS, or service the transmission.


It is important to improve your driving skills if your car jerks when you stop it and there is no check engine light on your dashboard. After stopping the car, keep your eyes open for loose parts inside the car and make sure the brake pedal is handled properly.

Your vehicle may be experiencing a serious internal problem if it activates CEL and jerks when stopped. The car should be inspected by a mechanic who is an expert in stopping cars smoothly. 

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