Some common causes for engine jerk while driving include: low levels of transmission fluid, clogged transmission filter or a worn universal joint. The transmission should be checked for low fluid levels and the filter replaced at regular intervals. The universal joint can be replaced to avoid more costly repairs.
Other possible causes of engine jerk can easily be avoided with regular maintenance. According to HowStuffWorks, "Sometimes a shake or shudder will emanate from the engine compartment, because the engine isn't getting enough air, fuel or spark that it needs to run smoothly." The fuel and air filter should be checked, as well as the spark plugs, to determine if these simple fixes are causing the engine to jerk.