10 Reasons why your Car Jerks When Braking And The Solutions

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By Jessie Villanueva

There are many reasons why your car jerks when braking but it doesn’t mean that you need to worry when this happens. I know that it is impossible that you don’t get scared when this happens, especially when you’re driving in the middle of the main road. Trust me, I also had a few scares of mine when I encountered such a situation.
This is why I’m here to help you solve this common problem. Hopefully by the end of this blog post, you will be informed about why your car does it and what you must do when it happens.

Table of Contents

Reasons Why Your Car Jerks When Braking

There are many variables that you must take into account while searching for a reason for your car’s jerking and here is a list of possible causes:

1- Warped Rotors

Warped rotors stand out as a frequent reason behind that unsettling car jerks when braking episodes. This occurs when the brake rotor, tasked with slowing down your car, gets uneven or warped due to intense heat or frequent brake use. When you apply the brakes, the caliper grips onto this uneven rotor surface, leading to a jerky sensation as it makes contact.

2- Improper Brake Disc installation

Sometimes, when brakes are used, the car jolts because the brake discs might not have been installed correctly or could be bent, causing increased friction.

If you’ve recently replaced your brake discs, there’s a risk that they were put in the wrong way. Incorrect installation can lead to friction issues, potentially causing harm to both brake discs and pads. To avoid your car jerking when you hit the brake pedal, it’s crucial to address any damage to the brake discs promptly.

3- Floor Mats

Floor mats play a practical role in keeping your car clean and safeguarding the floor. However, they might contribute to the car jerks when braking experience. Sometimes, these mats can shift and get in the way of the brake pedal’s smooth operation. If your brake pedal feels resistant and your car jerks when you brake, it’s likely due to displaced floor mats. The solution is often as straightforward as repositioning or replacing the floor mats.

4- Worn-out tires

Worn-out tires significantly impact your car’s braking performance. These rubber companions play a crucial role in providing the traction needed for your vehicle to slow down and come to a stop.

As tires wear down, their tread depth decreases. The tread pattern on tires serves to channel water away from the tire’s contact patch, ensuring proper grip on the road surface.

When tires reach the point of wear, their reduced tread depth affects their ability to maintain optimal traction, especially in slippery conditions. This diminished grip during braking can result in the car jerking, highlighting the importance of regularly checking and replacing worn-out tires for a smoother and safer driving experience.

5- ABS Actuation

When your car jolts during braking, it might be due to a glitch in the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS). The ABS is supposed to gently pulse, but if it’s malfunctioning, it can be the reason why your car jerks when braking. Look out for an illuminated ABS warning light on your dashboard; it could be on constantly or flashing when the jerking happens. Issues like wiring problems or ABS control module failures might be at play, causing the ABS to act intermittently or provide incorrect feedback to the braking system. Keep an eye on the dashboard for clues when you hit the brakes.

6- Worn-out Spark Plugs

Spark plugs play a crucial role by creating the spark needed to ignite the fuel and air mix in your car’s engine. As time passes, these plugs can wear out or get fouled, leading to a weaker spark or no spark at all. This wear and tear can contribute to your car jerking when you hit the brakes, particularly during uphill drives. To prevent this issue, it’s advisable to replace your spark plugs regularly.

7- Dirty Brake Fluid

Contaminated brake fluid can compel your car to be bound when you apply the brake. This liquid helps voice coercion to the brakes; if it’s dirty, it won’t be competent to make its appointment virtually. In such scenarios, periodically check the brake fluid to confirm the proper functioning of the braking technique.

car jerks when braking car hood open

8- Clogged Brake Lines

Brake lines play a crucial role in your car’s braking system by transporting brake fluid from the master cylinder to the calipers. If these lines get clogged, it can introduce air into the system, leading to a spongy brake feel and jerking when applying pressure. 

To address this issue, it’s essential to regularly clean the brake lines and replace the fluid to remove any trapped air, ensuring the proper functioning of your braking system. This routine maintenance helps maintain smooth braking without the unsettling jerks.

9- Hydraulic issues

In most cars, the braking system relies on a closed hydraulic loop. The heart of this system is the cylinders, specifically in drum brakes, responding to the driver’s brake commands. The master cylinder facilitates the movement of hydraulic fluid through brake lines into individual pistons. Unlike air, hydraulic fluid doesn’t compress under braking pressure. However, if air manages to enter the hydraulic system, it can create issues, causing an interference with the brake function.

10- Issues in Brake Power Assist

In many modern cars, braking relies on a power assist system to make it more efficient. This system, often linked to the engine or power steering, enhances the pressure applied when braking. For most everyday vehicles, a vacuum brake booster is employed, while larger trucks utilize the power steering system.

When functioning correctly, this power assist system ensures smoother and safer braking. It takes the driver’s input on the brake pedal and amplifies it, facilitating a controlled stop.

However, when these components encounter issues, it can result in a jerky sensation during braking. In such cases, the solution often involves replacing the malfunctioning parts to restore the smooth operation of the braking system.

Concluding Why Your Car Jerks When Braking

The jerk in brakes in an uncontrolled manner can cause serious accidents in an inanimate way. So it is important that you pull over and check for any signs of impending brake problems (can be done through brake pedal) before you drive. Make sure you follow the proper engine maintenance requirements and have car insurance. With the above explained things to keep in mind, whenever you face this situation, you can eliminate the chances of accidents. Happy jerk-free driving!