Why Does My Car Jerk When I Brake

Why Does My Car Jerk When I Brake

The brake is an important part of the car, so you should always have them working correctly all the time. That is why if the car jerks each time you brake, it is vital to find out what is wrong and how best to deal with it.

The car jerking while you brake could be several things, including worn tires, warped rotors, hydraulic issues, ABS problems, and more. We shall examine each potential problem of why the car jerks and how best to address the issue.

Manual transmission

Not everyone can drive a manual transmission smoothly. It is possible that sometimes if it is a novice driver, you might find yourself jerking the car a lot either while braking or accelerating.

The driver needs to downshift the gears correctly while braking, or else the car might start to lurch. You definitely need to know how to work the clutch to improve how smoothly you drive such a type of car.

If you are still new to driving a manual transmission, this video can help you learn how to be smooth at it. Check it out below.

The tires are worn

When the tires are worn, they may have a problem maintaining the proper traction you need with the road surface. That is not the only thing that would happen as the car might become jerky too.

The jerkiness is because there is uneven wear on the tires, and the roads might be uneven.

Just make sure you check the tires to ensure that they have a good tread generally. Keep in mind there is a legal limit on how much the tires can be worn. Always check the tire tread and replace the worn tires.

The rotors are warped

Brake rotors can warp as they get older. This is especially true when they have been skimmed on a lathe machine to make them even.

Rotors warp mostly if there is thermal shock. An example is when the brakes were overheating, and you thought the best way would be to cool them down with water. Exposing the hot rotor to water leads to warping.

You would then often experience a jittery sensation each time the brake pedal is depressed for a warped rotor.

Loose floor mats

Having loose floor mats is not a very good thing for safety. They are likely to interfere with how you brake.

The loose floor mats can easily slide out of place and get under the brake. So, it becomes hard to brake smoothly, leading to a jerky feeling.

The issue is easy to solve. Start by repositioning the carpet or floor mat correctly. If it tends to cause the same issue, have it replaced for a safer mat. Changing it with the passenger side can also be a quick fix.

Faulty brake assist system

Braking systems would have boosters to help the car brake better. However, when there is a problem with the booster, braking can be a bit jerky or severe, depending on the extent of the problem.

A vacuum brake booster is commonly used in passenger cars. Its work is to improve braking but can be catastrophic if it fails. It is the same thing for heavier trucks.

Here is a video explaining more about how the vacuum brake booster works.

If it is diagnosed that the booster system has an issue, make sure it is replaced. This would ensure the car no longer jerks and also brakes as expected.

Hydraulic system issues

The car braking system largely relies on using a hydraulic loop. In case there is a problem with the loop, it means that you have a leak and the braking is not as effective as it used to be.

Other than having leaks, you may also get air is trapped in the system. That is why brakes need to be bled each time they are adjusted. Bleeding is critical to ensure the brakes can work correctly.

Air being trapped in the hydraulic fluid leads to a spongy feeling whenever you brake. As expected, it could also lead to the car jerking as you drive.

Bleeding the brakes should be done by two people. One has to depress the brake while the other does the bleeding until the brake is firm.

ABS and other electrical problems

The Anti-Lock Braking System or ABS is an important control part of the braking system. Its work is to keep the brakes from locking in case you lose traction.

A good example is when you slide on an icy road; the ABS comes in handy to modulate the brake’s hydraulic pressure so that the brakes keep working as expected. You would now be able to maintain control over the car.

When the ABS fails, you will likely experience the jerking each time you brake. Also, the ABS light will come on. When you see the ABS light, ensure the car is repaired as soon as possible. You may have to get a new ABS sensor.

Worn brake pads

Brake pads wear with time, and sometimes it gets to a point you are braking metal to metal rather than the pad material.

When it gets to this point, the brake pad starts to dig into the brake rotor. This can be hard on the rotor because the friction is too much. You may end up with ridges in the rotor, which now translates to having jerky braking.

The solution is to get high-quality replacement brake pads and always ensure they are replaced on time to avoid such damage.

Seized brake caliper

Having a seized brake caliper would also lead to issues with your braking system. This means the calipers would grip the disc or rotor but would not let go.

This seizing damages the brake pads and makes it hard for them to brake smoothly.

Seizing should be addressed as soon as possible, so your brakes work correctly and the rotor does not overheat.


How do you make the car stop jerking while braking?

The first step is to check if it has a warped rotor to ensure you have a working brake. Also, check if the ABS light is on and have it diagnosed and fixed.

Can dirty fuel injectors make the car jerk also?

Yes. This is because the car would not be getting enough fuel; thus, the reason it is jerking. Ensure that the injectors are cleaned to have a good braking performance.

What is the cost of a brake rotor?

If you have a warped brake rotor, it is key to have it replaced. The cost would be from $30 to $80 depending on quality, brand, and rotor type.

Recent Posts