Whether idling or driving, your engine should be running steadily. If it shakes while the vehicle is stationary, the vibration can get quite annoying, even downright scary depending on the magnitude. That said, knowing some of the reasons why this happens can relieve some of the worry you may feel. It will also allow you to communicate the problem more effectively to a car mechanic when you bring the car for repairs. The good thing about a car that vibrates while idling is that you know for sure the problem is located somewhere in and around the engine, because it's the only thing moving. And so you can limit your troubleshooting to that part of the vehicle. Without further ado, here are five of the common causes of engine vibration while idling.
Dirty air filter
When did you last clean or replace your engine air filter? A dirty air filter could mean that your engine is not getting the right amount of air to function properly
, which can lead to vibration when the vehicle is stopped. In such cases, simply cleaning the air filter can rid you of your wobbly woes.
Dirty/worn spark plugsDirt and carbon can build up in your spark plugs, rendering them ineffective in igniting the fuel
. This can cause engine misfires, and make the vehicle shake while on idle. Cleaning your spark plugs or replacing them altogether should solve the problem. Make sure to replace the whole set, and not just the oldest or dirtiest spark plug you can find.
Leaking, loose, or disconnected hoses
Hoses to and from the engine carry fuel, air, coolant, and more. Any problem with these hoses means the engine is not receiving the adequate amount of a crucial requirement to its optimal function
, whatever that may be. As a result, the engine may vibrate when idling or driving. Securing or reconnecting loose hoses and replacing leaky ones should make the issue go away.
Worn or damaged timing belt
Over time, your timing belt can stretch, crack, or lose some of its teeth, which can put the timing off
. Depending on your engine, the timing belt can be exposed or covered. If yours comes with a visible timing belt, consider yourself lucky, because you can easily check its condition with a flashlight. Inspect the entire length of the belt and make sure it is not loose or damaged. Bring your car in for timing belt replacement if you see any problems.
Faulty or poorly-adjusted intake system
Is your car of the old variety that still comes with a carburetor? If it’s improperly adjusted or calibrated, your RPM may already be below the normal idle range, and that's why vibration ensues. Adjusting the carburetor's idle speed may solve the issue. To do this, locate the high-speed mixture screw and turn it clockwise until you bring up the idle speed to the desired levels. Modern vehicles don't have carburetors, but the problem may lie in your fuel intake system, which may need cleaning
. This is a fairly easy maintenance job, and shouldn't cost you much on labor.