Your car is idle but it shakes so heavily that you can feel the vibration in your steering wheel or in your seat. You start wondering what could be causing this since everything seems alright. Why do you feel your car shaking when idle?
Your car shaking when idle is most probably an indication of broken engine mounts or bad spark plugs. Worn-out timing belt, lose or damaged vacuum hoses, and faulty fuel intake pump could also cause the engine to shake at idle.
This post will take you through more helpful details on why your car shakes when idle and possible solutions to consider. We have covered every possible detail related to your car shaking when in idle mode to help you solve this issue once and for all.
What causes your car to shake when idle?
There are many possibilities behind your car shaking when idle, say when you stop at a red light or when your engine warms up.
It could be something minor such as sensors, worn-out spark plugs, loose/disconnected hoses, etc. Or it could be something more serious such as the timing belt.
Regardless of the issue, your car shaking when idle is a warning that something is wrong with your engine and you need it to be checked by your mechanic.
Let’s have a closer look at all the causes of engine shaking at idle:
Bad spark plugs
One of the most common causes for car shaking at idle is worn-out spark plugs. The plugs work by letting out a bolt of electricity across a small gap to help ignite the air and fuel mixture—putting the position in motion and getting your car up and running.
When these spark plugs get worn out or become dirty, they’re unable to do this crucial task as they can’t emit the spark needed to start your car. The result is engine misfire which is well-known to cause vehicle engines to vibrate.
If during your car-shakes-when-idle the check engine light also appears (in blinking mode), like in the case of this Redditor, that’s a surefire sign of cylinder misfire!
Spark plugs are an inexpensive fix, and we recommend you replace them on time before they cause far more serious issues. Be sure to replace the bad plugs with the manufacturer-recommended ones to ensure they continue working properly.
Broken engine mounts
Damaged engine mounts may also have something to do with your car shaking at idle. As you may already, your car engine doesn’t come directly connected to the frame.
Instead, it’s supported by engine mounts, which are essentially rubber blocks mounted on steel brackets. The mounts help cushion your engine, reduce vibrations, and help cut down on the noise.
Unfortunately, these mounts don’t last forever and will crack, get broken, or even wear down over time. This leaves your engine unsupported and it transmits its vibration direly into your car frame.
The vibration associated with worn-out engine mounts is so great that the driver as well as the passengers can feel it.
A good case is this car owner whose car is likely dealing with broken engine mounts explains how he feels the vibrations inside his car and it “bugs the crap out of him.”
You can also test if the shaking is due to broken mounts by putting your car in neutral. If the shaking goes down, you’re most likely dealing with broken motor mounts.
However, it’s still a good idea to have a mechanic look at your car to confirm that it’s indeed an issue with the mounts.
Active engine mounts issue
Some car engines feature active motor mounts which also help dampen the engine vibrations. And your car ECM (engine control module) controls these vacuum-operated mounts.
These mounts involve a variety of hardware, including electrical controls, vacuum swathing valves, vacuum lines, and hoses.
If these mounts are problematic or aren’t properly actuated, then they won’t be able to function correctly. Engine vibrations will therefore get transmitted onto your car frame, where you can easily feel them.
Again, your mechanic can help inspect your car and determine if the mounts are behind the shaking and fix/replace the problematic parts causing the issue.
Damaged timing belt
A damaged timing belt is another potential culprit behind the shaking of your engine. The work of this timing belt is to control the actions of various components and accessories.
When this belt gets stretched out or worn out, or torn, it delivers inconsistent timing and shaking may develop as a result. You may also get loud noises when operating your car
One such instance where timing belt will create engine vibration at idle is when it causes cylinder misfires. This is how it happens: the timing belt runs through a set of pulleys which operate the crankshaft and camshaft.
The belt’s teeth help with a firm grip and smooth movement in this case. When the belt starts to wear out, however, it will repetitive ticking or clicking sound that comes from inside the engine.
Replacing the damaged timing belt is the best solution here. But keep in mind that putting a new belt in place can be costly due to the labor involved.
You may not know this but many vacuum hoses lay underneath the hood of your vehicle. These hoses come connected to your engine at specific points.
Their job is to clear all the byproduct gases from the engine, including those toxic fumes and exhaust.
These hoses are meant to stay secure at all times but it’s not uncommon for them to get leaky or loose.
So, if any of these hoses gets loose, disconnected, or broken, it will affect your engine’s performance and you’re likely to experience engine misfires, power loss, stalling, chugging, and even a shutdown.
In case your car engine starts shaking violently, then you could be having a leaky vacuum hose.
Your mechanic will be able to inspect all the hose connections to see if it’s a leaking hose causing the shaking of your engine.
Faulty fuel intake
An issue with your vehicle fuel intake system is also to blame for your car shaking at idle. This is epically true if your car engine shakes violently.
As you continue adding miles of wear to your car engine, its fuel intake system starts to show signs of aging.
It would not only become dirty but may also break down if its valve gets clogged with buildup and debris.
Valves get obstructed and are unable to deliver a constant and steady clean fuel supply to your car engine. Instead, your engine gets uneven supply which causes it to shake during idle.
The fuel intake system is one of the areas your mechanic will inspect. In addition, they will also inspect the fuel pump to ensure it doesn’t have any issues that are likely to affect your idling comfort.
What should you do if your car shakes when idle?
If your car shakes at idle, then it’s a clear indication of an underlying problem and we suggest you take it to your mechanic as soon as possible for full diagnosis and fixing of the issue behind the rough idling.
As you have seen in our previous section, there are many possible causes for rough idle, so you’ll need the intervention of a mechanic to help you understand what issue is affecting your engine.
Typically, a professional mechanic will take your car through a full diagnosis to uncover the underlying issue.
As we have just discussed above, there are key suspects behind this issue such as bad spark plugs, bad timing belt, faulty fuel intake, etc. And a professional mechanic will look into all of these parts as part of the diagnosis to help them uncover the culprit.
If your check engine light is on, your mechanic will most likely start by pulling the codes and looking them up to see what they represent. This will give them a clue as to what the problem could be and fix it to get your car running smoothly again.
What if your car shakes at idle but smooths out while driving?
There are multiple reasons why your car shakes when idle but then smooths out when you start driving.
The most common causes for this problem include worn-out engine mounts, faulty or dirty spark plugs, blocked fuel injectors, and damaged/loose vacuum hoses.
Other possible causes for rough idling which smooths out while driving includes broken coil packs damaged intake flow sensor, worn-out timing belt, faulty car alternator, damaged fuel intake system, and defective throttle body.
If you find yourself in this situation, you can try simple fixes to see if the problem goes away.
For instance, you can check if your tires are on low air and inflate them to see if the shaking will stop. You can also inspect the engine mounts and tighten them if they seem loose.
If none of these basics helps solve the issue, then you should take your vehicle to your mechanic to diagnose and fix the problem so that your car runs smoothly again.
Why is your car shaking when idle but not in neutral?
When your car is shaking hard when idle but not in neutral, the most likely cause is damaged motor mounts which make your car shake after you’ve engaged the transmission.
Other than damaged mounts car shaking in idle but not in neutral could also signal an issue with one of the engine components is problematic and needs to be fixed asap.
The most likely components to look into include the spark plugs, dirty throttle body, bad battery or alternator, faulty fuel intake, or clogged fuel injectors.
Getting an experienced mechanic to diagnose the above components will help you fix the issue and ensure your car doesn’t shake again when not in neutral.
Why is your car shaking when idle after an oil change?
If your car starts shaking when idle after you do an oil change, this is your part. This is not uncommon and has happened to many car owners before, including this particular car owner who shared his experience on a forum.
What you need to keep in mind is that an oil change itself doesn’t cause your car to vibrate. That said, there are several possible explanations for why this happens after the oil change.
One likely explanation is that you may have accidentally knocked off other components when doing the oil change. Check for loose spark plug wires or loose vacuum hoses which will definitely cause shaking at idle.
Oil overfill is another possible reason your car shakes after an oil change. This will likely cause the crank to slap around in the higher levels of oil, causing your car to vibrate as a result of engine imbalance. If this is your case, you should consider draining all the oil (not just a little bit of it).
You may also want to check if the oil level is low. You may have changed the oil but your car may be suffering from an oil leak, causing the oil levels to run low and cause engine vibrations.
Also, if the oil inside looks unclear, then you may have left some old residue inside the oil tank and you need to drain all the oil inside and change the oil filter.
Additional causes for engine shaking after an oil change include using the wrong type of oil, a clogged or damaged oil filter, and a faulty/loose oil pressure sensor.
TIP: If the shaking also throws a check engine light, then it will be easier for you to discover what the issue is by simply scanning for the error code and looking it up.
Why does your car vibrate when idle and ac is on?
In a case where your car vibrates and your Air Conditioning is on, then the AC compressor is the most likely culprit.
The compressor helps circulate the refrigerant throughout the AC system. If it goes faulty, it will put an excess load on your vehicle engine—making your car vibrate.
You can test if your AC is problematic by accelerating your car with the AC on. If you get a noticeable difference in its pick, then the AC has some issues.
Additional symptoms of a bad AC compressor to look out for include your car making a loud and grinding noise whenever you turn on the AC, Ac overeating faster than usual, and the AC systems becoming unable to blow cold as before.
If your car and the AC system exhibit the above symptoms, we advise you to take it to your mechanic as soon as possible to have the AC system checked out.
In most cases, the system can be replaced to continue working as before. But if it’s damaged beyond repair, then a replacement for the entire system is the only option.If your car shakes when idle, it could be a sign of a problem with the engine, transmission system, or idle control valve. However, this issue could also be associated with other common problems, such as car shakes when the AC is on or when braking at high speed. To learn more about these potential causes and what you can do to fix them, check out our articles on car shakes when AC is on and car shakes when braking at high speed. These articles provide helpful tips and insights on how to troubleshoot and solve these issues, so you can ensure the safety and comfort of your vehicle and prevent any potential accidents or damages.
We don’t advise you to continue driving your car if the engine is shaking. Remember, engine shaking at idle is an indication of an underlying issue. And continuing to operate your car may only cause more damage to the engine. If you don’t know what’s causing your car to shake, have it looked at by a mechanic and then take the necessary steps to fix the problem.
Yes, a bad battery is also likely to make your car shake when idle. This is because the faulty battery will be unable to provide enough power to your car engine, causing it to run unevenly and slowly. If you suspect a bad battery is behind the rough idle in your car, be sure to have it checked and replace it with a new one if necessary.
It is normal for your car to shake a little bit in idle mode. This shaking is usually not noticeable and is nothing to worry about. However, if your car shaking is noticeable or idles rough, then you should be concerned as something could be off with one of the engine components.
Whenever your car starts shaking when it’s in idle mode, you should always treat this as a warning sign that something is off with the engine. The issue could be caused by various engine components such as bad spark plugs, faulty fuel intake, loose or damaged vacuum hoses, broken engine mounts, and damaged timing belt.
We advise you against continuing to drive your car if it shakes when idle. This will help prevent further damage from catching up with your engine components. Instead, you should take your car to a reputable mechanic so that they can diagnose it and find out what’s causing the shaking problem and, hopefully, resolve it.