Shaking isn’t always a bad thing. Shaking your tail feather on the dance floor when your favorite song comes on, for example, can be a lot of fun. But shaking from your engine compartment is never a good time. And the vibrations almost always indicate a serious problem with your vehicle.
If you’re reading this article, your engine probably has a case of the shakes. Good news: We have answers.
Common Reasons Why Your Engine Might Be Shaking
Up until now, you’ve been letting your engine have a good time, shaking and dancing under the hood. But the party’s over – you’re ready to have a mechanic fix the problem. Once a repair professional begins digging in, they’ll find one or more of the following issues:
Your vehicle’s engine needs three essential ingredients to run: an air/fuel mixture, spark, and compression. What’s more, the air, fuel and spark must be delivered at the correct time and in the right quantity. The internal engine components must also be in synch and sealing properly to create the necessary compression.
When any of the elements mentioned above are missing, the engine will experience a misfire, which is incomplete combustion. In some cases, a misfire will cause your engine to run rough enough that you feel a noticeable shake. The check engine light will pop on, and it may even begin to flash.
Although many people think spark plugs are always to blame for a misfire, that’s not the case. An engine misfire can happen for a countless number of reasons – not just worn-out spark plugs.
Any problem that causes incomplete combustion will create a misfire. The root cause of the issue could be an air/fuel delivery problem, an issue with the ignition system or even an engine mechanical problem.
Bad Motor Mounts
Another reason why your engine might be shaking is one or more bad motor mounts. As you probably guessed, motor mounts support the engine. The mounts also have a rubber center that helps isolate the rest of the vehicle from engine vibrations.
If your vehicle has a bad motor mount, the engine won’t get the support it needs. As a result, you may hear a clunking noise upon acceleration and deceleration, as well as when you go over bumps. With the hood open, you may also be able to see abnormal movement from the engine while it’s running.
Worn Transmission Mounts
Your vehicle’s transmission also has mounts. The mounts serve the same purpose as those found on the engine – providing support and dampening vibrations. Because the engine and transmission are bolted together, a bad transmission mount can also cause excessive engine movement.
Internal Engine Failure
The worst-case scenario is an internal engine failure. Major mechanical problems, such as a spun connecting rod bearing, will cause your engine to shake, rattle, and roll. The vibrations can be caused by the broken parts knocking around inside the engine, as well as the misfire that results from the failure.
What Should You Do if Your Engine is Shaking?
An engine that’s jumping and jiving is bad news. Like, really bad news. If you ignore shaking that’s due to a misfire, you risk damaging costly vehicle parts, such as the catalytic converter and engine.
The same goes if the shaking is due to an internal engine failure – if you keep driving, you’re only going to end up damaging your vehicle more. Plus, you’ll end up stranded on the side of the road.
Faulty motor and transmission mounts are also bad news. A neglected mount can put the engine at an extreme angle, which can overextend and strain other parts of your vehicle. In an extreme situation, where all the mounts fail, your engine could even fall out. And that’s not a good look.
So, if your engine is shaking, get it fixed immediately. And save the vibrating and gyrating for the dance floor, you party animal.