Why Does My Car Shake When I Brake? | Car Shakes When Braking

November 6th, 2020 by

As the owner of your vehicle, the odds are that you are familiar with the ins and outs of it and can sense when something just isn’t right. A common issue that you might encounter is if your car shakes when braking.

There are a few reasons why your vehicle might experience shaking, and it’s important to address this issue before it becomes a bigger deal. Here are some common reasons why your car might shake when you hit the brakes.

Brake Pads and Rotors Need Attention

mechanic working on brakes

Image via Flickr by FtCarsonPAO

One of the more common reasons for your car shaking when you apply the brakes is due to substances gripping the rotor. When you press down on the brake pedal, a caliper applies pressure to the brake pad. In turn, the brake pad pushes down on the rotors to stop the vehicle’s wheels from spinning. Over time, brake pads accumulate oil, dirt, or other materials. When this happens, the substances can cause vibrations, particularly when you press the brake pads.

Also, over time the rotors get thinner, making them susceptible to damage. During braking, excessive heat is generated and can cause the rotors to warp. This can also lead to slipping brake pads. To prevent this issue, make sure you have your brake rotors replaced around the 70,000-mile mark. You might need to replace them earlier depending on your vehicle’s weight, your driving habits, and the climate where you live.

You might also notice a sharp noise coming from the outside of your vehicle when you apply the brakes. This noise could signal that your brake pads are worn. If this occurs, replace your brake pads as soon as possible. You should check with your owner’s manual on when you should replace the brake pads, but you should typically replace them every 50,000 miles.

Dry Guide Pins

Dry guide pins could be the issue if you notice your steering wheel shaking when you come to a complete stop. These guide pins are part of the brake calipers and are responsible for guiding the brake pad to the rotor. In order to work properly, these pins must be clean and lubricated. When they become corroded or dry, they can cause the brake pads to push down on the rotor at the wrong angle or the caliper to stick.

To determine if you have dry guide pins, visit a service center since the caliper must be removed, inspected, and lubricated. Fixing this problem also often involves examining the caliper housing and handling high-temperature grease.

Issues With Alignment

You might have alignment problems if you brake at speeds higher than 50 miles per hour and notice your vehicle shuddering. To test this theory, drive your vehicle between 50 to 55 mph when there are no other vehicles around. Take your hands off of the steering wheel for a few seconds, but keep them nearby in case of an emergency. You want to determine if the car veers slightly to the left or right.

If your vehicle doesn’t have alignment issues, then it should travel in a straight line. However, if it does drift slightly in either direction, your vehicle requires a full inspection to determine if you need alignment on two or four tires.

Unbalanced Tires

Another common reason why your vehicle shakes when applying the brakes involves your tires. If the tires are under-inflated or unbalanced in certain areas, it can cause your vehicle’s suspension system to work harder. It can also cause the steering wheel to begin to shake, which can give you difficulty in steering the vehicle.
When you bring your vehicle in for a tire rotation, the technician should also check the wheel alignment. It’s best to have a tire rotation done every 5,000 to 7,500 miles, but you should verify the mileage with your owner’s manual.

Bent Wheel Rims

Similarly to worn and misaligned tires, bent wheel rims can cause your vehicle to drift when you’re driving. If your driving takes you through potholes, the chances of you having a bent rim is high. When driving at high speeds with bent rims, you might discover light vibrations coming from your vehicle. When you increase your speed, you might notice that the vibrations get worse. Bent rims affect your vehicle’s steering wheel, causing those uncomfortable vibrations. It’s important to get the rims taken care of before they cause additional damage.

Suspension Problems

If you notice that your vehicle shakes not only when you hit the brakes but also during regular driving, you might have issues regarding your suspension. Over time, small rocks and potholes can affect your car’s axle, which can damage your vehicle’s suspension. Suspension issues could also be at play if your vehicle shakes specifically when coming to a stop.
Another part affected by axle damage is the constant velocity (CV) joint, which is connected to the vehicle’s axle. If the rubber boots that protect the CV joint become damaged by holes or filled with dirt and debris, the vehicle might shake. Almost any impact on the axle system affects this joint.

Power Steering Issues

There are numerous parts involved with your vehicle’s power steering system, and each one of these parts must be in the best condition so you can make smooth turns. You might notice that you need to exert more force in turning the steering wheel in one direction when compared to the other. Along with using more energy, you might notice a shaking sensation when turning. If this happens, you might have an issue with your power steering.

When stopped, try to duplicate the maneuver to see if the vehicle shakes then. If you experience shaking just from turning the steering wheel, your steering components are likely responsible. You might have a leak in one of the hoses.

A shaking vehicle is almost as dangerous as when the brakes fail. If you believe your vehicle is shaking when you press on the brakes and need assistance to determine what the problem is, you should have a qualified mechanic inspect the vehicle. At Sweeney Buick-GMC, we have factory-trained technicians that use state-of-the-art technology and equipment to keep your vehicle running like new. Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment, and we can have you back on the road in no time.

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