Why Does Your Car Vibrates In Drive But Not In Neutral?

When I’m stopped at a light I realised that my car vibrates when it’s in drive, but not when I put it in neutral.The reason your car vibrates in drive but not in neutral could be a sign that you’re having a bad transmission or damaged motor mounts. Notwithstanding, several other things could cause a car to shake or vibrate while in the drive gear.

Modern vehicles are very sensitive and all the components work hand in hand. When a component is faulty, it can directly or indirectly affect the performance of other components; thus, causing you to experience different unusual signs while driving.

Why Does Your Car Vibrates In Drive But Not In Neutral?

The reason why your car vibrates in drive but not in Neutral is that the transmission is not engaged while the gear is in neutral.

In contrast, once you switch from neutral to drive, the transmission is engaged, and if any drivetrain component is faulty, your car is likely to vibrate or shake.

There are a couple of places to look into when you start noticing this issue. Mainly, it is faulty or damaged motor mounts that cause a car to shake once the transmission is engaged (in the drive mode). But then, asides from the mounts, some other things are to be checked too.

1. Bad Motor Mounts

Motor mounts are what are used to hold the engine onto the car itself. When the mounts are bad or loose, it causes the engine to shake and vibrate as you drive or while the car is idling.

So, the first thing to check is the mounts that hold your engine and transmission. Well, you may not be able to tell if a motor mount is bad or not; thus, you should engage an auto mechanic to do the checking.

2. Faulty Fuel Intake

A faulty fuel intake channel would cause the engine not to receive enough fuel to keep running smoothly all the time. If the engine doesn’t get sufficient fuel intake at intervals, it is likely to shudder, shake, or vibrate when the transmission engages the drive

3. Clogged Fuel Injectors

Vehicles today are sophisticated machines that are designed to be as fuel efficient as possible. One of the ways this is achieved is through high-pressure fuel injectors that dispense the optimal amount of fuel into the engine’s cylinder at the right time. Fuel injectors are exposed to high temperatures and fuel pressure and over time, their tiny nozzles, known as pintles may become clogged by carbon left behind from the combustion process.

Yes, clogged fuel injectors would restrict seamless fuel delivery into the engine cylinders; thus, causing the engine to shudder at intervals due to a lack of sufficient fuel. Many things could clog fuel injectors, and that includes dirt.

4. Spark Plug Issues

For the combustion process to succeed, there must be a spark combined with the air and fuel mixture. Spark plugs, their wiring, and the coils create the voltage to ignite in each cylinder. Spent or old spark plugs become soiled from oil or carbon deposits, greatly reducing the power created from ignition.

Just like the fuel injectors, spark plugs also play an important role in the seamless performance of motor engines. If the spark plugs are not functioning as they should, you may experience shaking and vibration when you switch from neutral to any other gear.

Frequently Asked Questions

Given below some frequently asked questions:

Q1. Can The Transmission Cause The Car To Vibrate?

Vehicle shake when changing gears (for manual and automatic transmissions) A normally functioning transmission provides a smooth ride when changing gears. An automatic transmission that shifts heavily, jerks, or shakes when changing gears can mean the transmission fluid needs to be changed or the oil level is low.

Q2. What Causes Shaking A Car At Idle? 

Worn spark plugs are one of the most common causes of engine wobble. If the spark plug is dirty or worn, it will not ignite properly and the engine will not be able to produce the spark it needs to ignite the fuel. This causes malfunctions in the engine. Spark plug replacements are usually inexpensive.

Q3. Can Low Oil Cause Rough Idle?

If you don’t have enough power or if your idle is rough, your engine will not perform well.

Q4. Can A Dirty Air Filter Cause Rough Idle? 

Engine misfires, rough idling and hard starts can all be traced to a clogged engine air filter. The dirty air filter restricts the air supply to the engine causing unburned fuel to form a soot residue that accumulates on the spark plug.

Q5. What To Do If Your Car Vibrates Or Shakes While Stopped?

Having your car vibrate or shake while you are stopped at a stoplight can be infuriating. But the good news is that you can likely do something about it to get the issue corrected. So what usually causes vibrations in a car when you are stopped?

Q6. Why Does My Var Vibrate When I Put The Car In Reverse?

Your engine should move around slightly when transitioning between drive and reverse gears. If your engine wants to lurch forward or backwards when putting your car in drive or reverse your engine mounts are likely worn out.


Your vehicle’s dashboard is how your car communicates to you. It tells you when fuel is low, the speed you’re travelling, and even reminds you to put on your seatbelt. There’s another gauge on the dashboard that few of us notice, however, it’s there for a good reason. While dirty fuel injectors, spark plugs, wires, air filters, hoses, or sensors may cause your car vibrates in drive but not in neutral. A skilled technician will need to inspect the vehicle to determine the cause.

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