Why Does My Car Shake when Accelerating?

If your car shakes when accelerating, it could be due to unbalanced tires, worn-out spark plugs, loose lug nuts, or more.
Written by Sarah Gray
Edited by Amy Bobinger
Reviewed by John Davis
background
If your car shakes when accelerating, the source of the issue can range from imbalanced tires to worn-out spark plugs, loose lug nuts, and more. Most of these problems can be handled with a quick (but possibly pricey) trip to the mechanic.
  • A car vibrates during acceleration for a variety of reasons, many of which require expensive fixes.
  • Depending on the issue,
    car repair
    costs could vary from as little as $20 to over $1,000.
  • It’s unlikely repairs will be covered by
    car insurance
    .

Why your car shakes when accelerating

  • Damaged inner CV joint: When the joint starts to break down and is under a lot of stress, small vibrations can turn into intense shaking.
  • Broken motor mounts: A bad motor mount can be felt when idling, but the shaking will be much more noticeable when accelerating.
  • Loose lug nuts: If the lug nuts are not correctly torqued on the hub of one or more wheels, your car will likely shake when accelerating.
  • Unbalance tires: Even the tiniest weight imbalance can cause a vibration when the tire rotates—the greater your speed, the stronger the vibration.
  • Bent driveshaft or axle: If a driveshaft or axle is bent or damaged, your car will vibrate, and it will get worse as you accelerate.
  • Stuck brake caliper: The vibrations will be accompanied by a burning odor emanating from the car.
  • Dirty/worn spark plugs: Dirty or clogged spark plugs can cause the engine to misfire, causing vibrations.
  • Dirty/old engine oil: A car that’s overdue for an oil change will often shake, especially when accelerating.
  • Exhaust leak: If the vibration is centered in your gas pedal, it could be a symptom of an exhaust system leak.
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How much will repairs cost?

Prices will vary depending on where you live and your car’s specific make, model, and year, but these are some rough cost estimates:
  • CV joint replacement: $500 to $1,000
  • Motor mounts replacement: $200 to $600
  • Tire balancing: around $20
  • Driveshaft replacement: $500 to $1,000
  • Brakes (depending on the issue): $350 to $800
  • Oil change: $20 to $70 
  • Exhaust system (depending on the issue): $100 to $1,200

Will insurance cover these repairs?

Normal wear and tear, which is commonly the source of many of the issues listed above, won’t be covered by most car insurance policies. However, insurance may pay for the repairs if the shaking is caused by damage that’s covered under your
comprehensive
or
collision coverage
Keep in mind that ​​your deductible may be costlier than some of these replacements.
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FAQs

Shaking when you apply the brakes could suggest warped
brake rotors/discs
, worn-out
brake pads
, or inadequately lubricated guide pins—all of which are critical components of safe braking while driving.
If your car shakes when you brake, get a brake safety inspection as soon as possible.
Some causes may be less crucial to your safety than others, but it’s best to assume it’s not safe to drive your car if it shakes when you accelerate. A problem with your vehicle’s brakes, for example, should be addressed right away.
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