Why Does My Jeep Cherokee Jerk When I Accelerate? Find Out Here!

Jeep Cherokee can jerk while accelerating when there is a problem with the engine backfiring. The engine will backfire when there is a problem with the ignition system like spark plugs, ignition coil, coil wire, and distributor cap.

They are all interrelated with each other, and if any components become faulty, they lead to engine misfiring. Also, the Jeep Cherokee can jerk when the air filter of the engine is not changed for a long time, or it becomes dirty. It reduces the airflow and the performance of the engine. 

Furthermore, the Jeep Cherokee jerks when the catalytic converter is clogged with an air-fuel mixture and it prevents a large amount of smoke coming out from the exhaust pipe, causing the engine to lose its performance. Besides, blockage in the engine and poorly tuned throttle cable can become the reason for the Jeep Cherokee jerking when accelerating. 

What Are the Common Reasons for Jeep Cherokee Jerk When I Accelerate? (Fixed)

The common reasons for the Jeep Cherokee jerking when you accelerate are due to engine backfiring, dirty engine air filter, jammed catalytic converter, engine blockage, and throttle cable misalignment. 

1. Engine Backfire

The engine of the Jeep Cherokee can backfire when there is an issue with one or more of these, such as sparkplugs, ignition coil, coil wire, and distributor cap. These are part of the whole ignition system of the engine and if any of these become faulty or malfunction, they can result in engine backfiring. 

The engine can backfire when sparkplugs get oily due to a leak in the spark plug tube seal and the engine oil comes in contact with the sparkplugs. Also, it can backfire when wrong sparkplug is installed on the ignition coil or it is simply worn out after a long time of usage. 

The ignition coil can become bad, which cannot provide enough electricity to the spark plug, and the spark plug cannot ignite the fuel. It reduces the performance of the engine, and with low current, the engine backfires. 

Plug wires provide electricity to the ignition coil by taking it from the distributor. When any of the wires becomes faulty, it won’t provide enough electricity to the ignition coil. The ignition coil will not supply enough electricity to the spark plug to ignite, and as a result, the engine will backfire. 

The engine of the Jeep Cherokee can backfire when the distributor cap malfunctions; the distributor cap will supply a low voltage of current to each spark plug, and the spark plug will not spark properly. 

Solution to Engine Backfire

You can follow the steps to solve the issue with your Jeep Cherokee engine backfiring. 

  • Disconnect the battery negative terminal and remove the engine cover, electrical connector, and air hose retainer. 
  • Release the safety feature, disconnect the electrical coil and remove the ignition coil from the spark plugs. 
  • Remove all the spark plugs with the help of a spark plug socket and extension, check each spark plug, and replace the spark plugs if they are in bad condition. 
  • Check the ignition coil, plug wires, and distributor cap with a multimeter if the voltage is accurate or not. It is better to replace the whole unit when one of them has a problem. 
  • Inverse the process of connecting all the parts which have been removed. 

The spark plug of the Jeep Cherokee comes with a price range of $2-$20. Ignition coils are a bit expensive, and they come within a price range of $30-$100. Plug wires come with a set of 7, 8, and 9 wires, and the price comes around $20-$50. Distributor caps come with a low price, between $15-$30. Brands such as Denso, NGK, and Autolite are producing good-quality spark plugs, ignition coils, plug wires, and distributor caps.

2. Engine Dirty Air Filter

Jeep Cherokee can jerk when the air filter of the engine is dirty or clogged with dust, debris, or bugs. It reduces the acceleration and the overall performance of the engine, and it mainly occurs when the air filter is not cleaned for a long time or the air filter is damaged. 

Solution to Dirty Air Filter

When the air filter is dirty, you can remove the dust with an air-pressure gun, but to ensure longer durability of the engine, it is better to replace it with a new one. Follow the steps below to replace the engine air filter. 

  • Open up the hood of the Jeep Cherokee and remove the screws of the air filter housing with a magnetic screwdriver.
  • Remove the air filter hose from the housing and pull out the top of the housing to replace the old air filter with a new one. 
  • After replacing, reconnect all the components back to their places. 

The air filters of Jeep Cherokee come within a price range of $15-$20, and it is available in any mechanic shop or e-commerce site. 

3. Catalytic Converter Jammed

The catalytic converter of the Jeep Cherokee can get jammed over time due to the high density of the air-fuel mixture that passes through it. It helps to reduce the toxicity of the exhaust gases that come out of the engine to benefit the atmosphere. When it is jammed, it declines the engine performance and leads to jerking when hitting the gas pedal. 

Solution to Catalytic Converter Jammed

You can clean the Catalytic converter of the Jeep Cherokee by following two methods. The first method is about cleaning it without removing the catalytic converter, and the second method is about cleaning it by removing the catalytic converter. 

Method 1- Cleaning without removing the catalytic converter

You can follow the steps below to clean the catalytic converter without removing it. 

  • The fuel in the tank should not be more than 15 liters or 4 gallons. The cleaners work well with low fuel. 
  • Pour down catalytic cleaner into the tank by removing the gas cap, following the manufacturer’s guidelines. 
  • Secure the tank by placing the gas cap back in its position and then drive for 15-20 minutes. Thus, it will help the cleaner go all the way to the engine and to your catalytic converter to break down the clogs. 
  • Once the tank is near to empty, fill the tank with fuel, and the vehicle should run properly. 

The price range of a catalytic cleaner comes within $15-$30. So, it is usually cheap, and make sure to purchase the appropriate cleaner for your vehicle fuel system. Brands like Cataclean and Solder-it are producing high-quality catalytic cleaners. 

Cleaning without removing the catalytic converter

Method 2- Cleaning by removing the catalytic converter

To clean the catalytic converter by removing it, you can follow the process. 

  • Lift the vehicle with a jack properly and look for the oxygen sensor in the exhaust pipe. 
  • Remove the oxygen sensor from the exhaust pipe with an appropriate socket wrench, and if it is dirty, then clean it by soaking the oxygen sensor in the fuel or gasoline. 
  • Loosen the bolts of the catalytic converter and remove it safely from the exhaust pipe, and if it is welded, then you have to cut it off. 
  • Spray water at low pressure directly using a water pressure gun on both sides of the catalytic converter.
  • Soak the catalytic converter overnight in a bowl with soapy water and place it in the bowl vertically. 
  • Rinse it and let it dry completely before the installation, and then install the catalytic converter and insert the oxygen sensor in the exhaust pipe to complete the process. 

Be noted these two methods work well on the minor clogs, but if your catalytic converter is jammed with major clogs, then it is better to replace it. A catalytic converter may cost around $200-$800 which is highly expensive. 

4. Engine Blockage 

Jeep Cherokee can jerk when there is a blockage on the engine, and it can happen when you unintentionally or intentionally overheat the engine, and it gets cracked, or in extremely cold temperatures, the engine can crack itself when it is filled with too much water and not with enough anti-freeze. 

Solution to Engine Blockage 

Taking the vehicle to a certified service center would be a good choice. DIY repairs are not going to help much because there can be a risk of damaging the engine unless you have vast knowledge and advanced tools about it. A professional would identify the specific problem for the blockage. 

5. Throttle Cable Misalignment

When the throttle cable of the Jeep Cherokee is misaligned, the vehicle can jerk when accelerating because the pump oxygen and the butterfly valve of the carburetor will take time to open, and the engine will take time to respond while hitting the gas pedal. 

Solution to Throttle Cable Misalignment

To get rid of this problem, you just have to align the throttle cable of the Jeep Cherokee which is very simple and to do this, you can follow the process below. 

  • Push down the throttle valve(TV) cable button on top all the way down which will release the lock.
  • Slide the cable up as far as you can, and lock the cable by pressing again the cable button.
  • Press the gas pedal from inside the vehicle, and it will adjust automatically. 
  • Test drive the vehicle to see if everything went smoothly and the vehicle is responding according to the acceleration. 
common reasons for jeep cherokee jerk when accelerate

How Much Does It Cost to Fix Jeep Cherokee Jerking Problem?

The cost of fixing the Jeep Cherokee jerking problem will actually depend on whether you want to do it on your own or you want to do it by a professional mechanic. DIY repairs will eventually cost less than a professional mechanic as it doesn’t include the labor cost, but there is a risk of damaging the vehicle if nothing goes smoothly, and as a result, it may end up with additional costs for repairing the vehicle. 

If your Jeep Cherokee is jerking due to a dirty air filter or throttle cable misalignment; these problems can easily be solved with DIY repairs and you don’t need to get professional help. You only need some basic tools and techniques to sort out the problem, and it can only cost you around $15-$20.

If you need to change the air filters, the professional mechanic would charge you around $50-$70, including labor costs. Aligning the throttle cable is free of cost unless you need to change it, but a professional can charge an average of $70-$100. 

On the other hand, when you want to fix your Jeep Cherokee jerking due to engine backfire, blockage, or jammed catalytic converter, these tasks are complicated and challenging, and professional repairs will provide better results than DIY repairs as they have advanced tools and expertise. On average, the cost of repairing an engine backfire by a professional would be around $100-$300, depending on the backfire reasons, replacement, and repair, but with DIY repairs, the cost will count on replacing the parts, and that can solve within $10-$50. In addition, in the case of catalytic converters and engine blockage, the repairing would be highly expensive by a professional if the parts need to be replaced, which can be between $800-$2500, and it can be reduced to $300-$1500 with DIY repairs. 

Is It Safe to Drive a Jeep Cherokee While Jerking?

It is not safe to drive a Jeep Cherokee while jerking because the vehicle loses its stabilization slightly, and when driving at high speed, it can go out of control and lead to an accident. Also, it is difficult for the driver to focus on the road and prevents the driver from smooth braking. 

Besides, jerking makes it uncomfortable for the passenger and the driver to sit in the vehicle, and if it is not repaired, driving constantly while jerking can worsen the parts more, hence leading to additional expenses. 

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