Shaking Car in Reverse and Idle



I am taking my car to the shop, but I don’t want to drive it all the way to my trusted mechanic cause he’s pretty far and I don’t trust my engine to go that far. My goal is to go into a new shop closer to home with at least some idea of what the problem might be so I’m not so clueless if they try to sell me something I really don’t need.

I drive a Nissan Frontier, about 92,000 miles on it. I just had it in the shop about a month ago for a broken bracket on the sway bar and got a new battery and oil change cause it was time. We also had the shop do a once over to make sure nothing else needed to be done.

About 2 weeks later my car started to shake at odd and seemingly random times. I noticed it most when the car was in reverse or idling, but it happens at other times too. When it first started happening, it would seem to go away after getting up speed or if I put the car in neutral at a stop. It would happen maybe once or twice a day, but never more than once in a single trip, and never more than 30 seconds at a time. This went on for just a couple days.

Then today it happened almost my whole drive to work, and the service engine light blinked for about 30 seconds. Then it seemed to stop for about a minute, and then it started shaking again and the service engine light started blinking for another 30 seconds. My last few minutes or so of the drive everything seemed normal again and the service engine light was off.

Any thoughts?


A blinking service engine light is a bad thing and you don’t want to keep driving when its blinking. The blinking is almost always a serious misfire and given your description of the shaking that’s pretty much what you’ve got. What you really want to now are the trouble codes stored in the computer as they will hold clues. When your new mechanic scans the codes make sure you write down exactly what they are if you want to post back for input.

Often this kind of trouble can be cleared up with a new set of spark plugs and ignition wires. Sometimes one has to go deeper into the ignition system (distributor if so equipped, ignition coil).

But misfires can also come from other things like bad fuel injectors, poor compression, etc.

You’ll have to wait for diagnosis - and you are wise to not want to drive it far. If the light starts blinking at you pull over and wait to see if it stops. If it keeps blinking you might save more $$ in the long run with a tow truck.