No, it’s not an earthquake! When you try to press down the brakes, you must feel that your car seems to shake a bit. If not the entire car, you may feel vibrations on the steering wheel or brake pedal.
Although such vibrations can originate due to braking, you cannot always blame the braking system here.
There are many more reasons why the car can vibrate, for example, deflated tires with loose nuts, misaligned wheels, an issue in the engine, etc.
So, it’s crucial to understand who is at fault here and what you can do as a solution.
Here I’ve curated a list of all possible reasons behind the shaking of your car while applying the brakes and some quick fixes for it.
Why Does My Car Shake When I Brake?
Being a driver, you ought to have a strong bond with the car and the ability to understand what’s going wrong with it if it behaves abnormally.
Out of all the unusual behaviors of a car, the most common is shaking during braking. The possible reasons behind this issue include:
1. Due to brake rotors in bad shape
Deformed brake rotors are a common reason behind your car shaking while pressing the brake pedal. And a bad brake rotor is pretty easy to identify.
If you can feel a pulsation in the brake pedal and slight vibrations in the steering wheel, the bad brake rotors are at fault.
Note that the above scenario is familiar with both disc and drum brakes.
In both cases, the rotor needs to have a flat surface for the entire braking system to function smoothly.
In a nutshell, you should get the brake rotors checked on a timely basis to avoid their sudden failure and mishap.
2. Due to brake pads
Your brake pads are another component of the braking system that suffers from continuous wear & tear.
While new brake pads have an average thickness of 8-12 millimeters (or ½ inch), this thickness deteriorates as they get used up.
Experts suggest an immediate replacement of the brake pads as soon as only 25% of their life is left.
Following that, you’ll notice the symptoms of worn brake pads, which include vibrations and a high-pitched squeal.
Not replacing worn-out brake pads can result in severe long-term damage to your car and its braking mechanism.
3. Due to infiltrated the brake lines
A brake line is an essential component of your car’s braking system that influences its performance.
Its primary function is to convert the pedal pressure into stopping power.
Due to a leaking brake line or empty brake fluid puddle, air may get into the brake line.
To understand whether air-filled brake lines are causing the car to vibrate, look for the following two symptoms.
- Is the brake pedal feeling spongy?
- Is the brake behaving abnormally? Like at first, the brake is working fine and the very next moment, causes problems?
If your answer to both these questions is yes, the air has replaced the brake fluid in the brake line. To fix this, you will have to force the air out of the lines or repair any leakage through which air enters the brake lines.
4. Due to wheel bearing
While wheel bearing is usually not a cause of vibrations, you should know this too.
Since the wheel bearing connects to the brake rotor, if the latter is in bad shape, you may feel its effects on the bearing, too—for example, vibrations while applying the brakes.
While such vibrations are generally not much noticeable in the case of a worn-out wheel bearing, if not taken care of, other long-term symptoms include a harsh metal-on-metal squeal or the bearing completely falling off the car.
5. Due to poor alignment of the wheels
If you can feel moderate to solid vibrations on the steering wheel at high speeds, it indicates the poor alignment of the wheels.
Further, the vibrations will become more severe when braking as more pressure goes towards the front wheels.
Many factors can misalign the wheels, with the simplest one being hitting a pothole hard. So, if the alignment of the wheels isn’t proper, you’d refrain from driving your car.
6. Due to Bad tires
Besides the alignment of the wheels, you also have to check the condition of your tires.
Sometimes, due to bad tire conditions, you’ll face vibrations on the steering wheel at speeds exceeding 80kmph. Hence, ensure all the tires are correctly inflated and even.
7. Broken or loose hose
A hose’s primary purpose is to expel hot fumes coming from the engine.
However, if the hose is loose or broken, it may not do its work correctly, and those hot fumes may affect both the engine and the braking system. It can lead to vibrations.
These are the common reasons behind the shaking of your car while pressing the brake pedal.
What to Do if Your Car Shakes When Braking?
If your car shakes when braking, here’s what you must do-
- If any of the tires are out of balance or wear out, the higher your car’s chances of shaking at high speeds. Hence, either get the tires checked for balance or get new tires.
- Whether your car has disc brakes or drum brakes, both can result in slight shaking of the car if the brake rotor is warped. As a simple fix, visit any nearby garage and get the brake rotors checked or replaced.
- You should either repair or replace the old brake pads if only 25% of their life remains.
- If the car sits for too long, the area under the brake pads can corrode, which can make the brake pedal vibrate. Hence, take assistance from a qualified mechanic to get rid of this corrosion.
- If there is air inside the brake lines instead of the brake fluid, eliminate air and ensure that only fluid is present inside the brake line for proper functioning.
The above tips can fix your car shaking issues in no time.
Is it bad if my car shakes when I break?
Yes, it’s terrible if your car shakes while braking. It is because such shaking usually directs issues with the braking system.
For example, if there is an issue with the brake pads, rotor, or brake lines, you will experience slight to moderate shaking.
If not taken care of early, the problem can aggravate, causing more harm to the car and mishaps. Hence, don’t take vibrations in your car lightly and get them sorted at priority.
If your car shakes or you feel vibrations on the steering wheel or brake pedal, you should not ignore the issues causing it.
Such shaking may lead to other significant issues in the car’s braking system or even the engine.
It is better to regularly check your vehicle for such issues to avoid any failure, whether small or big.