Has your car been shaking when you brake recently? Have you tried all the suggestions you’ve got from friends and online car platforms and nothing seem to solve the issue? If yes, you’ll find this guide helpful.
Your car shakes when braking mostly due to an issue with the rotors. If you have sticking brake calipers or worn-out brake pads, they could also cause vibrations when braking. Tires that are out of alignment or unbalanced can also make your car shake during braking.
We researched what causes your car to shake when braking and found loads of helpful info that we have shared with you right below. You’ll discover all the possible reasons behind the shaking, what to do in the event of this shaking, and so much more.
Why does your car shake when braking?
As seen in our intro above, there are many potential causes for your car shaking when braking.
However, the most likely culprit behind this system is your vehicle braking system itself. If your car shakes ONLY during braking, you should first look into its braking system as that’s where you’re likely to find the problem.
That being said, here are the most likely reasons your car shakes during braking:
- Damaged or warped rotors
- Out of round drums
- Sticking brake calipers
- Worn-out brake pads
- Unbalanced tires
Let’s get a closer look at each of these issues below…
Damaged or warped rotors
Probably the most likely cause for your car vibrating during braking is due to warped or damaged rotors.
Rotors usually undergo warming due to normal wear. As you repeatedly apply the brake pad onto the rotor, its material will wear out at the point of contact.
With time, the heat resulting from friction of the brake pad on the rotor causes warping.
The good thing is that the warped rotors are an easy fix as they just require resurfacing, commonly referred to as turning, to help restore their perfection and minimize warping issues.
However, if too much of the rotor material is machined away during this process, warping is highly likely to catch up with your rotor again. In this case, replacement is the only option
Still at it, rotors can also warp due to lack of use. If you don’t drive your car for long periods of time, the rotor area right under the brake pad may corrode or collect the pad material.
If you start driving the car again, your car will likely shake when braking due to an effect similar to that of warped rotors.
In this case, the rotor can also be turned to help restore its perfect shape/flatness.
However, as we said, earlier, getting rid of too much of the rotor material will increase the likelihood of warping happening again, leaving you with replacing the rotor with a new one as your only option.
For car’s braking system features drum brakes instead of disc brakes, the drums being out of round will also result in pedal vibration or pulsation whenever you hit the brakes.
In this case, a professional mechanic can easily measure the drums to determine if they’re out of round. They’ll also inspect the drums for scoring and other possible damages. Just like disc brake rotors, these brake drums can be easily machined to help restore their roundness.
But the mechanic must ensure the drunk thickness stays within the manufacturer’s specifications. Alternatively, the drum can be replaced with a new one to eliminate the vibrations.
Calipers are part of your vehicle braking system. Whenever you press the brakes, these caliper chambers get filled with hydraulic brake fluid.
This force the caliper pistons to move outward and against the brake pads—slowing down the rotor.
The harder you press the brakes, the more the amount of fluid pressure gets into the calipers, and the more pressure gets delivered to the calipers as well as the pads.
In an unfortunate case where the caliper pistons get stuck, they won’t be able to squeeze the pads against rotors, and this will make your car vibrate whenever you brake.
Sometimes the calipers can become stuck when they’re engaged, and this causes the pads not to let off the rotor.
Stuck brake calipers are accompanied by a number of symptoms such as the brake pedal being less responsive, difficulty accelerating, and your car may experience your car pulling to the side.
You may also hear unusual sounds during braking and a burning smell from the extremely hot rotors and pads getting squeezed together for prolonged periods.
If your car shows any of the above symptoms, you should take it to your mechanic to have the braking system inspected and serviced to ensure safety on the roads.
Worn-out brake pads
Brake pads also wear with time. depending on how the pads or the rotors wear, you may experience shaking when you hit brakes.
Most of the time, if your car vibrates when it brakes and is often followed by some sharp squeaking sound, that’s an indication of worn brake pads.
The best solution here is to replace the old pads with new ones. Also, keep in mind that you’re usually recommended to change your car brake pads every 50,000 miles.
You may want to consult your owner’s manual for more info on when to replace the pads to prevent this shaking issue.
If you have uninflated, unbalanced tires, or wheels that are out of alignment, then your car may also start shaking when braking.
This is especially true if your car shakes when you’re riding at highway speeds or going downhill.
bad tires will force your car suspension to work harder and may even make your steering wheel shake during braking.
In this case, your mechanic should inspect your wheels for alignment and other possible issues.
They may recommend getting new tire(s) as a fix for the solution. Or they may recommend a front-end realignment that can help solve the issue but not permanently.
Taking your car for a tire rotation every 5,000 to 7,000 miles (you can refer to your user manual for more info) can help prevent the above wheel issues such as alignment which cause shaking problems.
How do you fix your car shaking when braking?
If your car shakes when you press the brakes, we advise you to get your mechanic to inspect your car and help you determine where the problem is.
A reputable technician will inspect all parts of the braking system including the rotors, pads, calipers, etc., to uncover the source of the shaking.
The mechanic may also diagnose why your car shaking when braking issue by taking it for a test drive.
In case they point out rotors as the problem (they end up being the problem most of the time), they may resurface them to fix the shaking issue. However, replacing the rotors is always a better option most of the times.
And when replacing the rotor, we also advise you to replace the brake pads. This is because new rotors working with old pads may give you an undesirable driving experience as the worn areas of the pads may be unable to make proper contact with the new rotor.
Remember, a car braking system isn’t something to gamble with as it compromised your safety and that of other road users! If the system is defective, you should have it fixed as soon as possible.
Why your car shakes when braking at high speeds?
In most cases, car shaking when braking at high speed is usually due to worn-out or warped rotors.
You should have a mechanic inspect your rotors for warping and other issues and have them resurfaced or replaced to fix the shaking problem.
It is also important to have the brake pads and calipers inspected as they’re another likely culprit for your car shaking at high speeds.
Tires that are bad and out of place can cause your car to shake when braking at high speeds. A tire-related issue will mostly make your car shake, especially if the wheels aren’t balanced.
The shaking is likely to intensify as you increase your car speed which explains why most car owners complain that “my car shakes when I brake from 60 to 80.”
Unbalanced tires may also cause your steering wheels to vibrate at high speed, especially if you’re on a bad road with uneven stones, potholes, and rough patches.
What if your car shakes when braking at high speeds, not rotors?
If your car or steering wheel is still shaking and you’re 100% sure it’s not due to rotors, this is your part.
You may have already replaced the rotors and brake pads but still experiencing vibrations when braking as this car owner explains in a car forum.
One of the places to look at is the brake caliper. It may not be squeezing evenly, thus making your car shake when you open it.
If your mechanic inspects the calipers and finds them to be problematic, a rebuild for all of them will make the problem go away.
It could also be that the problem is coming from bent or unbalanced rims. And if you have aftermarket wheels and don’t have hub rings for them, then the shaking will likely occur.
The new rotors could also be having an issue, so it’s good to have them checked with an indicator to see if they spin true.
If shaking when braking at high speeds is accompanied by a humming noise, then bad bearing could be the issue behind it.
Why your car shakes when braking at low speeds?
The most likely cause for your vehicle shaking when it brakes at low speeds is due to warped or damaged rotors. These should be the first thing to look into if your car shakes at low speeds.
Take your car to an auto shop to get the rotor tested for thickness/thinness and get repaired without necessarily replacing it
However, replacing the warped rotor will be a much better fix as it ensures the issue doesn’t show up again.
If your car features Rear Wheel Drive (RWD) and its driveshaft is bent, then it may cause your car to start shaking whenever it’s braking at low speeds.
This shaking and vibration usually increase as you move at higher speeds. The best fix for this issue is to have the bad driveshaft replaced.
Why your car shakes when braking on a hill?
If your car starts to shake when you apply brakes when driving downhill, the likely cause is warped brake rotors.
According to Evan Clay, an auto mechanic with 16 years of experience, When you hit the brake downhill, the rotors become hotter than usual.
Heat then makes the metal expand, making the warping bad enough that it causes your car to shake when braking. After the rotors cool down, the shaking fades away.
When you experience your car shaking when braking on a hill, we advise you to have a mechanic inspect the condition of your rotors.
In most cases, the rotors are usually machined to make them flat again.
However, if the rotors have become too thin or worn out for machining, you should consider replacing them with new ones.If your car shakes when braking, it could be a sign of a problem with the brake system, suspension system, or tires. However, this issue could also be associated with other common problems, such as car shakes when idle or when driving slow. To learn more about these potential causes and what you can do to fix them, check out our articles on car shakes when idle and car shakes when driving slow. These articles provide helpful tips and insights on how to troubleshoot and solve these issues, so you can ensure the safety and comfort of your vehicle and prevent any potential accidents or damages.
Absolutely! Your car shaking when braking is a dangerous issue that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
While the shaking might not cause a dangerous situation instantly, continuing to drive your car with this issue will be endangering yourself and your loved ones and even other road users.
You also risk causing damage to other parts of your car. Regardless of why shaking occurs during braking, we advise you to stop driving your car until the problem is fixed.
If your vehicle steering wheel shakes when braking, this is probably due to a warped rotor or a sticking caliper. Be sure to have your rotor alignment checked and evened out if necessary. Also, have the calipers checked for any issues that could cause vibrations during braking
Car shaking when it brakes problem is quite common among car owners. If you experience your car shaking whenever you apply the brakes, the first place to look into is the braking system. Worn-out or warped rotors are stuck brake calipers are the most likely issue. Worn-out brake pads and unbalanced rims also cause shaking when braking.
Luckily, these issues can be fixed easily and won’t cost you a lot of money. Just make sure you get a reputable mechanic to diagnose your car for the source of the shaking during braking and then fix it for you. For safety reasons, we advise against driving your car until the shaking problem has been fixed.