Although the Ford F-150 is a reliable truck that Ford has continued to perfect over time, it can have its issues—just like any vehicle. In particular, drivers have reported problems with the Ford F-150 jerking when accelerating, an inconvenience at the very least.
There are many reasons for the Ford F-150 jerking when accelerating, including spark plugs that need replacing, dirty air filters, air in the fuel, cold weather, and gear issues. Regardless, if you’ve noticed this happening, you should get your truck seen by a professional.
Let’s take a closer look at all of the potential reasons your Ford F-150 might jerk while accelerating, as well as what you can do to fix it. Some of these involve DIY fixes, while others require a professional.
Reasons Your Ford F-150 Jerks While Accelerating
If you’ve noticed your Ford F-150 jerking while accelerating, you might wonder where to start with your diagnosis.
Here are all the reasons it might be happening and what you can do.
Your Spark Plugs Need Replacing
Spark plugs should last for around 150,000 miles on a vehicle, so unless there’s been some heavy use or you have a very old vehicle, this may not be the issue.
However, suppose your vehicle does happen to be approaching that milestone. In that case, this might be precisely why you’re noticing the jerking—and if this is the reason, it’s essential to get them replaced as soon as possible.
Like other parts of the engine, spark plugs are critical to the vehicle running smoothly, and if left to degrade entirely, the problem could become much worse than just jerking. Your engine may lose its power.
The Air Filters Are Dirty
Like in a house, you need to change the air filters on your truck. This should be done around every 15,000-30,000 miles, depending on certain conditions, such as the model of truck you have and where you drive (e.g., driving in high-pollution areas means changing the air filters more).
There are other possible signs of dirty air filters you might notice if this is the case, such as:
- The check engine light.
- Strange engine noises.
- Engine misfires.
- Decreased gas mileage.
If you notice these things in combination with the jerky acceleration, you might have found the problem.
There’s Air in the Fuel
Your fuel system should remain locked against air, but sometimes, air will find its way inside. The best way to prevent these leaks is to take your vehicle in for regular maintenance.
If there is air in the fuel, you might notice other signs, such as:
- Low power.
- The engine feels rough.
- The vehicle struggles to get going.
This problem is best handled by a professional, as they need to figure out exactly where the air is getting into the fuel, seal it up, and remove all air from the fuel system.
The Weather is Cold
Sometimes the solution is as simple as the weather.
For example, if you notice the acceleration is jerky because you live in a cold place, or now that winter has fallen, it can be a struggle for the truck to get going—which can lead to inconveniences when speeding up, leading you to believe something greater is going on.
To test this theory (and fix it, if that’s the issue), you can give the engine some time to warm up before accelerating to high speeds. Unfortunately, if you confirm this is what’s going on, there’s no other way to fix it in cold weather except to give the truck some time to warm up.
Cylinders are Damaged
Cylinders should last for at least 150,000 miles, but if your vehicle is hitting that milestone, they could be the issue. Fuel is generated within a vehicle’s cylinders, so if they’re damaged, acceleration issues such as jerking are one of the first signs you’ll see.
Cylinders are commonly damaged by overheating, and other signs that may point to this as the issue include:
- Unexpectedly low oil levels.
- Engine performance is decreasing.
- Dark and thick smoke coming from the exhaust.
If there are cylinder issues, these should definitely be left to a professional.
Gear issues are another huge potential problem and can be a whole variety of things within themselves.
If you’re driving an older truck that still has a manual option, it could be the way you change gears; if you’re a seasoned stick driver or drive an automatic, it could be something wrong with the gears themselves.
The truck needs to move to a higher gear to achieve high speeds smoothly, so if this feels like a struggle, it’s time to have a professional look into the gears and see what’s going on with them.
DIY Repairs vs. Hiring a Professional
It can be difficult to decipher if you need to hire a professional or if you can do DIY repairs, and it depends on what the issue is. For example, warming the truck up before moving, so it does well in cold weather or changing the air filters can definitely be done by the truck owner.
However, more severe issues need to be handled by a professional. Attempting to do this on your own can worsen the problems, costing you more in the end and even putting you in danger.
If you can’t tell what the issue is, this is another reason to have a professional look. They can get to the bottom of it and fix what needs to be fixed, and the last thing you want is to dig into something only to realize it wasn’t the problem.
Stick to the professionals even if you’re the least bit uncertain, and you can’t go wrong. There are so many possible reasons for jerky acceleration that it makes sense to get a proper diagnosis.