Why Does My Car Shake When I Brake? 3 Reasons Why!

Ever been driving your car and it shook so much you felt like you were in an earthquake? As a driver, you’ve got a pretty solid connection to your vehicle, so this can be one scary feeling. In fact, you could probably tell that something is wrong with your shaking car when you noticed the vibrations just as you want to break. There are basically 3 reasons behind these car shaking symptoms that aren’t always a brake replacement. 

In short, here are three common problems that can cause a car to shake: 

  1. The most common reason for my car to shake when I brake was related to tires.
  2. The next sign is towards  brake rotors which can be the cause of shaking.
  3. Lastly, shaking is caused when a brake caliper or brake pads get worn out.   

Why Does My Car Shake When I Brake At High Speeds?

The good news is that car shaking problems are easily avoided or corrected.

The tire related issues can be avoided by purchasing good quality tires and by having all of the tires carefully inspected when your car goes in for preventative maintenance service. On the other hand, brake related issues can be avoided by including brake caliper service when your brakes are due for maintenance.  This is crucially important for vehicles that have over 75,000 miles on them. Just like you had your tires inspected, have all of your brake pads inspected as part of a regularly scheduled preventive maintenance program. In fact, by sticking to your manufacturer’s scheduled maintenance program, you can avoid or even see these problems coming up. Usually, the brake and tire inspections are performed when you have an oil change.  In the case of customers who put very little mileage on their cars, this will be performed at the six month vehicle check-up.

Why Does My Car Shake When I Brake: 3 Reasons! 

1. Your car could be shaking thanks to worn tires: 

This is generally the leading cause of a vibrating vehicular performance. 

Ever heard of wheel-balance check ups? Well, this is something we pay for during the 6 months servicing. If the tires are out of balance then the steering wheel can vibrate. This vibration issue specifically  starts at around 50-55 miles per hour (mph).  This vibration gets even worse around 60 mph but starts to get better at high speeds.

However, when the car shaking directly corresponds to you physically pressing the brake pedal, the signs lean towards brake replacement symptoms. Since your braking system consists of several components, you may need to narrow it down to figure out which specific braking component is the cause of your shaking car. 

All of these parts simultaneously perform to slow or stop your vehicle, and if one component is worn, cracked, or simply broken, the whole system can be out of whack and require a break replacement. 

2. Your car could be shaking thanks your rotors: 

If you feel the shaking or vibration in your steering wheel and your brake pedal, signs point towards your rotors. 

Ever noticed that your steering wheel shakes while you are braking? One sign for this problem could be caused by “out of round” brake rotors.  

This vibration can also be felt through your brake pedal or brake pad. So exactly what is happening? Basically, the brake rotors get squeezed by the brake pad to help slow your vehicle down, and if the rotors are out of balance, this could be causing tremors that you feel in the pedal and steering wheel. How to resolve this? Simply get your rotors checked by a technician to be sure that it’s the rotors that is causing the issue. Then, get new ones in! 

3. Your car could be shaking thanks your brake pads: 

Our last common cause to your shaking car is worn brake pads. This is actually more common than you think, because brake pads wearing out are supposed to get replaced when they’ve worn down until there’s only ¼ of it left.

When this situation occurs, you will experience a vibration through the steering wheel starting at 45 to 50 miles per hour.  This issue worsens the faster you go, and you will also smell a burning odor when you stop.

The vibration that you’re feeling could be a sign that the brake pad’s wear indicator needs to be addressed. The indicator emits a high pitch squeal for when it’s time to replace it. This metal tab on the brake pad could cause some light vibration upon pressing the brakes. 

The brake calipers are responsible for pressing the brake pad against the rotor, which is created through brake fluid pumping through the lines when you press the pedal. Now the brake fluid causes hydraulic pressure which forces the caliper to press the pads. Therefore, if you feel the vibration only in the steering wheel, it could be the calipers sticking and failing to press the pads against the rotors.  So if you want to properly estimate which of the car shaking signs is accurate, you’ll want certified technicians to carefully inspect the symptoms and systems of your car. Not only will they help in figuring out what is causing the shaking, they will also let you know exactly if it’s the brake rotors or if your vehicle needs a brake pad replacement, so you don’t have to guess which one it is. A proper servicing can resume your journey with a smooth and stable ride. 

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