Car Shakes When Braking

A shaking car is not rare or uncommon. Many of you might have felt the car vibrating or having tremors when performing certain actions. In most instances, the car shakes when you apply the brake. This leads to the conclusion that there’s something wrong with the brakes.

However, that’s not always the case. The car can shake or vibrate even when the braking system is perfectly good. The reason could be the tires, suspension, engine, or simply the horrible road you are driving on.

Let’s find out the various reasons and possible solutions to prevent the car from shaking when braking.

Reasons Why the Car Shakes When Braking

It is scary when the car shakes or vibrates when you apply the brake or accelerate a little extra. You might worry that the car will break down before you reach the destination. Many times, the problem isn’t that bad or terrifying (though it depends on the car). What’s important is to find the right reason for the vibrations in the car.

Observe what kind of vibrations occur and when. Does the steering shake when you press the brake pedal? Does the car’s body frame vibrate as a whole? Does the car shake when idling? The reason could be different for each type of vibration.

Sticky Brake Calipers

This occurs in cars that have traveled a few miles. A car with 50,000 to 80,000 miles to its name is prone to have sticky brake calipers. This is because the hydraulic pressure doesn’t work properly on the calipers. It doesn’t press the calipers against the rotors, which in turn, causes the car to shake and shudder when you hit the brake to come to a halt.

You can easily notice the issue with brake calipers when you increase the speed to 45mph or more. The faster you go, the more the car shakes and vibrates. In fact, you might even feel as if something is burning whenever you apply the brakes to stop the car.

The vibrations in the steering or a damaged/ worn-out brake pad are also an indication of sticky brake calipers. Replace the calipers with new ones to fix the problem.

Imbalanced Tires

The tires are the second most common reason for the car to shake or vibrate when driving or braking. This is especially noticeable when you drive at higher speeds or down the slopes. Tire imbalance is caused due to a poorly fitted tire or misalignment. If you’ve recently replaced a tire, that’s the first thing you should check. Is the new tire appropriately fixed?

When the tires are not correctly balanced, it disturbs the weight distribution of the moving car. As you drive around 50 to 70 mph, the problem with imbalanced tires will make itself more apparent. The steering wheel, the car seats, and the flooring will be the ones to vibrate in this case.

You can solve this by getting the tires balanced and aligned the way they should be. This job cannot be done at home. Take the car to an experienced mechanic to figure out which tire(s) need to be fixed. Generally speaking, the steering vibrations point to an imbalance in the front tires, and the vibrations of the floor and seats are due to the rear tires.

Damaged Brake Pads

A damaged brake pad is not something that should happen to a car. Every car will end up with damaged or worn-out brake pads over the years. If the car vibrates when it is idle and the tires, suspension, etc., are not at fault, the cause is likely to be damaged brake pads. A simple solution is to replace them with new ones and get them done by a mechanic.

While this is not a weighty issue, it has to be fixed immediately to avoid other damages and dangers. What happens when you delay it? You’ll notice the car screeching each time you apply the brake. It is annoying for sure but can also lead to brake failure and cause accidents. If you continue to delay, the brakes might just stop working.

Defective Brake Rotors

The rotors are an important part of the braking system. Naturally, they will be worn out as you use the car. The rotors assist the brake pads in slowing down the car when you press the brake pedal. If you feel as if the entire car is vibrating (including the steering wheel) when you hit the brake, the issue lies with the brake rotors.

Age and miles are not the only reasons for defective brake rotors. A car that hasn’t been used for a long time can also have defective rotors due to corrosion and dirt on the brake pads. Excess heat generated by the brake pads is another reason. Tightening the wheel lugs a little too much can damage the brake rotors.

In some instances, tuning the brake rotors will provide temporary relief. However, replacing them with new ones is a long-term solution. Get a mechanic to do it. If you want to replace the brake rotors on your own, remember not to use a pneumatic wrench for tightening the wheel lugs as it can easily result in overtightening.

Road Conditions

Bad roads are not good for the car, right? There’s a reason cars are built differently for on-road and off-road conditions. That said, driving on uneven and bumpy roads will affect the suspension, brakes, tires, steering, etc.

Imagine driving over hard rock or a block. Doesn’t it cause the car to thud and shudder for a few seconds? When this happens repeatedly, the car will continue to shake because the components have become loose or damaged faster than normal.

Driving in city traffic will lead to the same results as you constantly hitting the brakes and changing gears to avoid collisions. There isn’t much anyone of us change this. We can only follow the maintenance routine prescribed by the manufacturer and take good care of the car. Invest in an ATV if you want

Hard Acceleration

Yes, sometimes the car shakes because you have floored the gas extra hard. Drive at optimum speeds and let momentum do its bit. Easing up on the speed can stop the car from shaking. Avoid aggressive driving if you want the car to deliver sustained performance over the years.

Driving beyond the optimum speed continuously will put excess pressure on the engine, brakes, suspension, and other components, causing them to wear out faster.

Old and Worn-Out Tires

When was the last time you changed the tires on your car? Tires have an expiry date, irrespective of whether you use the car often or not. Tires will wear out faster due to regular use but will become old even if the car is sitting in the garage.

Such tires can no longer provide a smooth ride and should be replaced with new ones. Similarly, pay attention to the quality of tires. Buy premium quality tires from reputed brands for durability and better performance.

Worn-out Suspension

We have mentioned the suspension a few times already. Damaged and worn-out suspension causes vibrations in the steering wheel, especially when the car is at 50-70 mph speed. It gets worse if you don’t get the necessary repairs and replacements done.

You will also notice clicking sounds each time there’s a dent or bump on the road. The steering wheel will lose its alignment and cause the car to drift one side or another.

Rusty Brake Drums

Rear brake drums are more prone to damage and can cause the car to shudder and vibrate by failing to connect with the brake shoes. You can smoothen the brake drums by shaving off the top layers.

However, doing it often will reduce the thickness and shape of their design. Replace the brake drums if they are too rusty or have been in use for a long time.

Dry Guide Pins

The guide pins are another crucial part of the car’s braking system. The guide pin’s job is to guide the brake pad to press the rotors at the correct angle. This can happen only when the guide pins are properly lubricated and dirt-free.

When you get the brake calipers assessed, make it a point to get the guide pins also inspected and repaired to stop the car from shaking when you hit the brake.

Final Words

Engine misfires can also be a reason for the car to share or vibrate when braking. While shaking cars are not uncommon, ignoring the tremors can lead to major damage to the components and increase the risk of accidents.

Regular maintenance services, inspections, and replacement of worn-out components are necessary to keep your car in good condition. Pay attention to the sounds, vibrations, or anything different in the car’s performance.