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Vibration When Braking: Is It Dangerous?

Vibration When Braking: Is It Dangerous?

When you feel a vibration when braking, it usually means that something is wrong. There is no such thing as a good vibration when it comes to your car’s brakes. This vibration when braking is also referred to as a brake shudder. You may feel it through the steering wheel every time you step on the brake pedal. This can happen when you have problems with your brake discs or rotors, brake pad issues, misalignment, or worn suspension components. When you feel any vibration when braking, it can render your car unsafe to drive. You won’t have equal or sufficient braking pressure which can affect your stopping distance. Remember that any problems with or related to your braking system should not be taken lightly. It is always a safety concern. 

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Vibration When Braking:  Is it Normal for a Car to Vibrate When Braking?


When you drive a car, you expect it to run smoothly. But if you feel unusual shakes or vibrations, especially if you feel the vibration when braking, then it means that there is something wrong with your car and you have to find out what’s causing it. There are a number of reasons why you feel a vibration when braking. Let us go through each of these reasons.

  • Issues with the brake discs or rotors.


The brake disc or rotor is considered as the largest component of the disc brake system. This disc or rotor is fixed to each wheel through holes on the hub’s front. It plays a very important role in the braking system since it is crucial in the overall safety of the car. 


Since brake discs are fixed to the wheel hub, they spin in the wheel’s direction and they work against the brake pads and operate to slow down or stop the car. When the driver steps on the brake pedal, the spinning disc or rotor will slow down the car by using friction from direct contact with the brake pads. Now, if you feel vibration when braking, it can be an indication that you have a faulty brake rotor.  


One of the issues with the disc rotor that can cause vibration when braking is a disc brake rotor having parts that are thinner than the others. All the parts of the brake rotor should have a uniform thickness in order to work efficiently. You will feel a vibration when braking since when you step on the brake pedal, the brake pads are pressed by the calipers against the uneven, high and low spots of the rotor. When the brake rotor is warped, the whole car may shake or may notice your steering pull when you apply the brakes. 


Another rotor problem that can cause vibration when braking is when the rotor becomes cracked or rusted. Rust and dirt can build up on it which can cause minor vibrations. This problem can also cause squealing sounds whenever the driver steps on the brake pedal.  


To fix this problem, you can have your brake rotors replaced or resurfaced. Even if only one of the rotors is damaged, it is recommended that you resurface or replace both of the rotors, the front set or the rear set. When you replace your brake rotor, it is always a good idea to have your brake pads replaced as well.  

  • Issues with the brake pads. 


The caliper on each wheel is built with two brake pads. The brake pad’s friction surface is the part that deals with the rotor. If you step on the brake pedal, the caliper presses the brake pads together onto the spinning rotor to slow down or stop the car.  


If you feel vibration when braking, it can be an indication that your brake pads are due for a replacement. They might already be contaminated with dirt, oil, and other contaminants which can cause your brake pedal to vibrate when the brake pads clamp on the brake rotor. 


Damaged, worn, or warped brake pads can also cause vibration when braking. You may also hear some unusual sounds like squealing or squeaking. The vibration you feel or the unusual sounds you hear might be the brake pad’s wear indicator alerting you that your brake pads need to be replaced. When you experience any of these symptoms, a brake pad replacement might be the only solution.  

  • Misaligned wheels.


When the wheels are aligned, the car carries out the steering inputs perfectly. But if they are not, you may hear unusual sounds or vibration when braking. This can happen due to the wheels rubbing against the brake pads when the brakes are applied. Wheel misalignment can also cause other problems to occur like premature tire wear and damaged suspension parts. 


You can do some tests to check if your wheels are misaligned. One way to do this is by bringing your car up to 50 to 60 mph, driving straight when there is no other traffic close by. Then for a few seconds, let go of your steering wheel and see if the car immediately swerves to the right or left. You may have to have your wheels realigned when it does. 


To fix this problem, you will have to arrange for a two or four wheel alignment. When you visit an auto service shop, they will conduct an inspection to determine what kind of alignment your wheels need. Cars usually need a front two wheel alignment while the SUVs will need four. However, if your car’s rear axle or the car frame itself has been compromised or damaged, you might need a four wheel alignment.  


  • Worn out suspension components. 


Worn out suspension components can also cause vibration when braking. The suspension system consists of a lot of components that work together to ensure that your brakes work properly and efficiently. These components wear out over time such as the ball joints, wear bearings, and tie rods. When this happens, it can affect your car’s braking system. To fix the problem, you will have to know what caused it first. You will have to take your car to an auto service shop and have it inspected to know what caused the vibrations. 

  • Stuck brake calipers. 


The brake calipers’ task is to press the brake pad against the rotor which is made possible by the brake fluid pumping through the lines when the driver steps on the brake pedal. This can happen since the fluid makes hydraulic pressure that compels the calipers to press the brake pads. When you feel vibration when shaking, it can be caused by the brake caliper sticking. It might be stuck clamping the rotor or opening and failing to clamp the rotor at all or failing to press the brake pads against the rotors. 


Brake calipers will usually last the life of the car or close to it. If you want to extend the life of your brake caliper and make sure that it won’t stick, you need to take good care of your braking system by topping up your brake fluid, maintaining a healthy level and replacing your brake pads regularly. 


Vibration When Braking: How Do I Stop My Car From Shaking When I Brake?


When you have been driving your car for a while, you will know or feel how it drives, moves, or sounds. If there is something unusual about its movement or sound, you will notice it right away and know that there is something wrong with it. So when you feel an unusual vibration when braking, it can be worrisome and you will want the problem to be fixed as soon as possible.


How can you stop your car from shaking whenever you step on the brake pedal? You can keep it from shaking by getting rid of the problems that caused it. The problems listed above are the possible causes and now let’s go through the possible solutions.


  • When you feel vibration when braking, you need to find out what caused it. If you think that the brake discs or rotors are causing it, you need to determine whether it is the front or rear rotors which are faulty. If the vibrations happen on the steering wheel, it can be the front rotor but if the whole car shakes, the rear ones are at fault. Have the faulty set of rotors replaced or resurfaced. 


  • Vibration when braking can also happen when there is an uneven mounting surface on the face of the wheel hub. Over time, uneven rust and scale deposits can build up on the hub. This can lead to an uneven mounting surface on the hub’s face, an uneven surface which the brake disc will be mounted on. You can check the mounting surface of the hub and look for any signs of rust and deposit build ups and if there are any, you will need to clean the area using some sandpaper until all the rust and scale are gone. 


  • Tires can also cause vibration when braking, especially when you are braking on the highway at high speeds or when you are driving downhill. That is why you need to also inspect your tires when you feel any vibrations when you apply the brakes. Your wheels might be misaligned or you may have an unbalanced tire.   


  • Another component you can check is the brake pad. Brake pads are considered as a consumable part since they are supposed to wear down and have to be replaced regularly. When you see that there is only ¼ of it left, then it is due for a replacement. 


  • One easy way to get rid of the problem is to take your car to an auto repair shop and have it checked and diagnosed since worn suspension components can also lead to vibration when braking. This way, the mechanics will know what really caused the problem and have it repaired right away. 


Vibration When Braking: How Will You Prevent Brake Vibration from Happening?


If you don’t want to deal with brake issues like vibration when braking, there are some ways you can do to make sure that it won’t happen. Preventing vibration when braking from occurring can be possible. Here’s what you need to know!   


Since it is normal for brakes to produce intense heat caused by the friction that is created when you stop your car, it is also normal for your braking system to become faulty over time. But, premature wear and damage can happen to your braking system if you create excessive heat because of some bad driving habits. 


You need to practice good driving and braking habits to help extend the life of your braking system and prevent other braking problems from occurring. Good driving habits like putting your car in low gear when you are driving downhill instead of putting on the brakes for too long, anticipating the traffic flow instead of doing quick hard stops, or avoiding resting your foot on the brake pedal while driving. Overloading your car with too much passenger or cargo can also damage your braking system. 


Even though the components of your braking system are built to withstand such stress, extreme temperatures, and usage. It can still fail due to the said bad driving habits. Like when you are constantly slamming your brakes all of a sudden at high speeds. It can wear the brakes down much faster since frequent uses won’t allow the brakes to have a proper cooldown period. 


Using poor quality brake components can also cause premature failure of your car's braking system. If you install a poor quality brake pad, it won’t be able to withstand the intense heat created from friction. This can cause it to overheat and cause other problems to develop. 


Overusing your brakes can also result in scorch marks permanently etched on your rotors that could cause vibration when braking and an unpleasant smell to occur. This can cause permanent damage that can only be fixed through a rotor replacement.  


Taking good care of your braking system surely can prevent vibration when braking and other braking problems. It is not hard if you make it a habit. You don’t have to wait before your brakes start to fail or show signs of failure before you start taking care of it. Remember, the braking system is one of the most important safety features of a vehicle.