Car Vibrates In Drive but Not In Neutral

Not every car issue means expensive repair. If you have wondered why your car vibrates in drive but not when in neutral, this post can be answerable!

You might have questioned the car’s performance at one point or another. It’s natural. Having a car means to keep a proper check on its performance, repair and everything that aids it to be in working state. However, you might have experienced the car vibrating in drive but not in neutral.

So what’s the real problem is still the question?

In most cases, the real problem lies with the wheels, engine and the transmission of the car. If either of these things are faulty or somehow worn out, this will have an impact. For best troubleshooting, you should check the tiers; they should be inflated with the right amount of pressure.

The engine mounting, belts, timing chain should also be in the right place and in performing state. For transmission, if its fluid is relatively lower it is polluted. The end result would be loss of clean transfer power from engine to the wheels.  Note to mention the damage in the bearing also causes vibration in the vehicle.

Now let’s find out the reasons.

7 Top Reasons for Why Does Car Vibrates In Drive but Not In Neutral

Below are the most commonly found issues when your car vibrates in drive but not in neutral?

Rough tire wear

Smoothness in the tire wear is a must for seamless car driving without any annoying vibration. So when you are experiencing vibration, it can be due to uneven tire wear. The shakes and jerks only occur when driving and not in neutral.

This is because tire spins at different rates of speed and the roughness in worn tires cause diversion in wheel rotation. Usually the uneven wheel wearing happens when;

  • Wheel alignment is different or improper car’s suspension and steering systems
  • Tire pressure is not at recommended level
  • Poor driving routine

Poor motor and transmission mounts

The faulty motor of the car promotes many problems in any vehicle. The faulty transmission mounts in the car means more vibration while when it’s in the driving mode  

In simple language, when the mouths of the transmission gets worn out it happens. The transmission and motor mounts are basically the rubberized components and when these components get weak, damaged, or lousy they lose their power to absorb the vibrations.

To find out the motor and transmission mounts check:

  • The mounting bracket
  • The rubber
  • The loose bolts (if any)

Tie rod is inefficient

If car vibrations are out of control check the tie rods. It is responsible for the car’s proper steering. The tie rods are there to offer wheel to chassis linking by connecting to the steering knuckle. In short, a bad tie rod will not let the car steer the right way and the result would be annoying vibrations. So, what you need to do is to consider replacing the tie rod.

Related: How Long Can You Drive With A Bad Tie Rod

Malfunctioning of Derivation

The poor or faulty derivation can also cause vibration in the car. For instance, if the space in the gears is not reasonably right, it can cause vibration due to inefficient power transferring to the engine. Also, if the transaxle shaft bearing in FWD is broken it can cause drivetrain vibrations.

If Wheel Bearings are damaged

There is no doubt that the bearings in the car are highly important for its smooth performance. So where you notice vibrations while you drive and not in the neutral state of the car, it can be due to bad bearings.

The hollow pieces in the wheel of the car are known as the HUB. The bearings are fixed firmly and perfectly into the very hub.

That’s why you notice vibration in the car while driving. However, this happens especially when you drive the car at a higher speed rate. Therefore, you’ll only experience vibrations in the steering wheel, the accelerator pedal, or even the seat of the vehicle.

To confirm if bearings are faulty or not, make small movements from left to right and notice the sound of humming. If that changes its pitch it means the bearings are now demanding replacement!

You can also check it by lifting the car off the ground and spinning one of its wheels. The wobbly wheel means poor bearings.

Transmission fluid problems

Fluid in transmission means smoothness in lubrications. So when the transmission fluid is either of bad quality or lower than recommended level it will cause vibration problems. The low transmission fluid will impact the torque converter and the engine power will not be able to remain smooth.

To find out the fluid problem, check out its color. If it’s brownish or black it has gotten bad, change it.

On the other hand the pinkish and reddish hue of the fluid means everything is fine and the problem is in something else. But you need to maintain the level of transmission fluid.

Defective Constant Velocity joint

Another reason for car vibration while driving is the poor CV joint. In most of the FWD vehicles, the vibration problem is due to poor CV jointing.

The constant velocity is for transferring of the power from the transmission to the wheels. So when the CV joint becomes faulty, damaged, or even worn out it lets out the vibration in the car when you drive it, however not in a neutral case.

CV joints feature lube to make the operations smooth. Check if there is a leakage or damage or not. If so, repair it. The rubber boot of the CV joint should not be broken.

Instant Solution When your Car Vibrates In Drive but Not In Neutral

It may sound obvious, but when you spot any faulty component in your car, you shouldn’t wait to replace it. Otherwise the car will keep on malfunctioning in different ways. Here are the top things you should do when the car vibrates in drive but not in neutral.

It may sound obvious, but when you spot any faulty component in your car, you shouldn’t wait to replace it. Otherwise the car will keep on malfunctioning in different ways. Here are the top things you should do when the car vibrates in drive but not in neutral.

  1. Balance the wheels – If the wheels are uneven, there is no surprise why the car is vibrating in drive. So make sure the tires are well-balanced and aligned. Wheel alignment is essential for smoothness in driving and it also saves you from any possible accident.
  2. Replace engine mounts– If engine mounts are wobbly or somewhat loose, make sure to tighten them.  If they’re damaged, rush to replace them before it’s too late. Worn out engine mounts are likely to cause vibration during drive.
  3. Change Spark Plugs ­– If spark plugs are worn out, they can cause vibration in the car during driving. So, if that is the reason, check them.
  4. Transmission Fluid should be cleaned – If the transmission fluid is dirty or too low, it’s time to replace it. Changing it will come as an instant solution for when the car is vibrating in drive but not in neutral. Top up the transmission fluid, but if it’s dirty, replace the previous oil in the first place.


When your car vibrates in drive but not in neutral, it’s essential to diagnose and address the underlying issues promptly. Regular maintenance, tire care, and addressing problems as they arise will help keep your vehicle running smoothly and vibration-free, ensuring a safer and more comfortable driving experience.

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