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Car Shakes When Braking? Here Is What We Know

Car Shakes When Braking

More often than not, we have issues getting our cars to start, but ensuring they can stop properly is equally as important for our overall safety. If you’ve been driving your vehicle for a while, you’ll be aware of how it feels to drive and any changes will be noticeable.

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If you’ve experienced vibrations when you hit the brakes or travel at high speeds, you shouldn’t ignore this issue. There are several possible answers to this complication and we’re here to map out these causes and some helpful solutions.


Why Your Car Might Be Shaking When Braking or at High Speeds


Vehicles should run smoothly — literally. When they begin to perform differently, it’s a sign of a malfunction or age. If you’ve noticed your car shakes when braking, there could be an array of issues that are causing this to happen. Never ignore the symptoms and consider the below causes of your vehicle shuddering — especially when at high speeds. 


Brake Pads Need Cleaning or Replacing


One common cause is brake pads being filled with oil, dirt or other materials. When these substances grip to the rotor, they can cause an array of vibrations, thus, leading to your vehicle shaking when you press the brake pads.


If you notice that the shaking drastically increases when you hit the brake pedal, you may also hear a sharp noise coming from outside of your vehicle. The first solution to try is replacing your brake pads as soon as possible. 


Alignment Issues


Another common cause might be issues with your vehicle’s alignment. If you notice that you experience shuddering when you brake at speeds of around 80km/h, you could have a problem with your alignment. 


To test this, drive your vehicle at this speed at an opportunity when there are no other vehicles around. Remove your hands from the steering wheel for a couple of seconds (keeping them closeby for emergencies) and check if the car attempts to move to the left or right. If there aren’t any alignment issues, you’ll continue traveling straight. But a change in direction can indicate that your vehicle needs to be realigned. To fix the issue, your car will require a full inspection as to whether it needs a new two-wheel or four-wheel alignment. 


Out of Balance Brake Rotors


The brake rotors could be out of balance if you feel a shaking sensation when you apply the brakes. Another suggestion of out-out-balance brake rotors could be a shaking motion while you’re driving without braking, but you’ll typically feel vibrations coming from the brake pedal, too. 


Alternatively, the brake caliper could be sticking, which causes car shakes. You’ll experience vibrations in the steering wheel at speeds of around 65 km/h and continue to increase the faster you go. If brake calipers are the issue, you may also encounter a bad smell, which will cause you to bring the vehicle to a halt.  


Unbalanced Tires


One of the most common reasons for car shakes when braking is tire-relating. When the tires become deflated or unbalanced in areas, the steering wheel will begin to shake, making the vehicle more difficult to control. You’ll likely experience increased shaking at speeds over 80 km/h. Checking your car tires and ensuring they’re all even will resolve this issue.


Loose or Broken Hoses


All cars come with vacuum hoses that are connected to different parts of the engine. These hoses have a purpose of expelling fumes from the engine. However, a loose, broken, or leaky vacuum hose can cause the engine to shake when your vehicle is one. This can result in engine problems leading to a misfire or shutting down completely.


Engine Issues


The engine could be causing these regular shakes, especially if you experience the vibrations when driving at a constant speed or as you accelerate. The shakes are typically caused by the engine not receiving enough fuel-air to function correctly. You can fix this issue by replacing the air filter within the engine, but if the shaking persists, consult a mechanic.


Clogged Transmission Filter


Every few thousand miles, you should change the transmission filter. If this filter becomes clogged, your car may shake while driving it. The first step is to jack up the vehicle and use a drain plug to remove the fluid. Follow by removing bolts and scrap off dirt and debris from the old gasket seals.


Power Steering Issues


If your vehicle shudders when you move the steering wheel, there could be an issue with the power steering system. The first thing to do is check for any leaks and see if the power steering fluids need topping up. 


Worn Suspension Components


Your wheel bearings, tie rods, and ball joints can wear over time and when regularly using your vehicle. If you notice shudders when you turn the wheel and not just braking, it’s likely that there’s an issue with the suspension components. 


You’ll need to take your vehicle to a garage for a full inspection and diagnosis. But there are also some improvements you can make to your driving that’ll help prevent these shakes. For example, avoid constantly driving uphill and be cautious of driving over potholes as they can cause the vehicle’s rim to bend, causing vibrations — especially when braking. 


Is Brake Shuddering Dangerous?


Now that you’re more educated on what the causes might be, are car shudders dangerous and should you stop driving immediately? More often than not, the cause isn’t so detrimental at the moment, but if you leave the issue unattended, you could put yours and other people’s safety at risk. If you’ve noticed that the shuddering has become worse, you should stop driving your vehicle and take it to a garage as soon as possible. 


Could it Be Your ABS Causing the Shaking?


We don’t want all of our readers to become paranoid that their car shakes are dangerous and a sign of harm. The first thing you should ask yourself is if your vehicle has ABS


If the ABS is activated when you hit the brake pedal, it might feel harder than normal. You may even experience a slight vibration or ratchet, which are both normal results of the ABS working. Another common sign that the shakes are caused by ABS is a sound that replicates a motorboat engine, which indicates the hydraulic control unit in operation.


Another way to test if the shaking is due to ABS is if you’re driving in wet conditions. When the wheels slip and lock up, the ABS senses this action and kicks in to keep you in control of your vehicle. The only time it’ll activate on dry pavements is if the wheels begin to slip as you stop, though, this only tends to happen when you apply the brakes aggressively on gravel roads. 


Car Shakes When Braking Downhill


If you’re concerned because your car shakes when you’re braking downhill, more times than not, this isn’t anything to worry about. 


The vibration is generally caused by the brake rotors being warped. When you hit the brakes when traveling downhill, the brake rotors heat up as normal. This heat can cause the metal to expand, resulting in the warpage shaking through the car as your speed reduces.


If Your Car Shakes When Idle


Perhaps your vehicle shakes when it’s idle. You shouldn’t ignore this as it could be an indication that your engine requires serious repairing.


Broken Motor Counts


More often than not, the issue is broken motor counts that cause your car to shake uncontrollably while the engine is idle. This is because the motor mount is supposed to hold the engine in place as you drive. But if the motor mount breaks or disconnects, you’ll need to discontinue using your car and visit a mechanic. 


Fuel Intake is Dirty


Another issue could be a dirty fuel intake. After driving your cars for miles, the fuel intake valves can become full of dirt and debris, resulting in uneven amounts of fuel being transferred to the engine. With an unsteady steam of fuel, the vehicle’s engine can shake or shudder as it struggles to function.


Timing Belt Needs Repairing


Alternatively, if the timing belt needs repairing, the engine can splutter at inconsistent speeds, resulting in the engine shaking as it continues to struggle. Timing belts require replacing once the vehicle reaches a high mileage, but if you seize to make these replacements, your car can shudder when idle.


How to Fix a Shuddering Car

There are many ways to fix a shuddering car, but you shouldn’t attempt to make these repairs if you’re not a professional. Take your vehicle to a trusted car dealer and they’ll perform a diagnosis from the common traits mentioned above. 


Expect that you may need repairs or entire replacements on some parts with a huge price difference between both. Since there isn’t one reason for car shakes, the cost could be from $50 to thousands of dollars, depending on the repairs or replacements needed and the inspections involved. 


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