3 Reasons Your Car Shakes When Accelerating

Driving a car that shakes when accelerating? If you feel the front end of the car vibrates when accelerating and smoothens out when deaccelerating, along with possible vibration in the steering wheel and seat, there are a few key areas to check that are likely the cause. We’ll show you what areas to check and what to look for if your car shakes when accelerating.

What Can Cause a Car to Shake when Accelerating?

1. Broken Motor Mounts

If you feel the engine vibrating when accelerating, it might have a broken motor mount, also known as an engine mount. A broken motor mount will cause engine vibration when accelerating. This means the motor mount is not weak or slightly torn but broken and in need of a replacement.

2. Bad Tie Rods, Ball Joints, and Wheel Bearings

If the steering wheel vibrates when accelerating, it’s probably wheel-related and steering and suspension parts like ball joints, tie rods, and wheel bearings should be inspected. A vibration in the steering wheel when accelerating means these parts might have too much play.

3. Bad CV Axle

Problems with the drivetrain can also cause a car to shake at high speeds. If there is shaking at the front end or seat when accelerating, the drivetrain should be inspected.

To tell if the CV joint is bad, check for signs and symptoms, which include looseness, split or torn boots, separated axle, and grease markings.

How to Check Where the Shaking is Coming From

Inspect the Motor Mounts

  1. Check for breaking or rubber sticking out from the motor mount. Use a flashlight or work light to inspect for signs of a bad motor mount, which can include ripped rubber, broken steel, cracking, welding that has come undone, or an unattached or broken bolt
  2. Find the front motor mount by the drive belt or serpentine belt
  3. Find the left side motor mount by the radiator
  4. Locate the rear tranny motor mount, which may require the removal of parts like the engine air filter housing
  5. Locate the right side motor mount
  6. Check the motor mounts from underneath the vehicle
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Inspect the Tie Rods, Ball Joints, and Wheel Bearings

  1. Raise and secure the vehicle with a jack and jack stands
  2. Grab the tire at the 9 and 3 o’clock position and give a shake gently in a back and forth motion, feeling for play/movement
  3. Grab the tire at the 12 and 6 o’clock position and shake gently in a back and forth motion, feeling for play/movement
  4. Repeat this process for the other side. If the wheels have little to no movement, the problem lies elsewhere.

Inspect the CV Axles

  1. Raise and secure the vehicle
  2. Grab and gently press the cv axle, checking for play. If the axle is tight, that means the axle nut is secured tightly.
  3. Check the axle boots for tearing
  4. Check the axle and surround parts for grease
  5. Gently rock the cv axle shaft back and forth, testing for how well the axle is secured in the transmission. If the cv axle loosens from the transmission, it could mean the retaining clip is broken—Inspect the end of the axle for a retaining clip. If the retaining clip is missing, confirm it isn’t in the transmission.

Replace a Bad CV Axle Yourself

If a bad cv axle was the cause, watch the video below to see how to replace one yourself. Find install videos related to the parts mentioned in this article in 1A Auto’s video library.

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