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Why Does My Car Shake When Driving? 10 Common Problems & Solutions

Man driving

Your car shaking and vibrating while driving is an unnerving and potentially dangerous experience. The problem could have several root causes, some of which are easily and cheaply remedied and others that may be costly to repair. While the cause is mostly related to the front wheels, there are unlikely yet possible causes too.

The main point is that you don’t want to leave it too long before getting fixed; if left unchecked, it could have a cascading effect, and that can cause several more serious and expensive problems down the line. Your car’s steering and suspension are all intricately connected, and one small, easily-remedied problem left unchecked, can swiftly cause bigger ones.

If you are experiencing shaking and shuddering while driving, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! We’ve put together this list of possible causes to help you figure out why this is happening and the steps to take to fix it.

1. Tires

The first thing to check is your car’s tires. This is the most common reason for a shaking vehicle, as your tires are the only contact that your car has with the road. Your tires may be worn unevenly due to misalignment, which will cause them to wobble at high speeds.

Also, check if your tires are damaged in any way. A damaged tread or sidewall can also cause them to spin unevenly, resulting in vibration. One uncommon problem is factory defects: The tire may have a missing piece of tread or even a bubble on its surface. This is rare, but with cheaper tires, it can sometimes happen.

2. Balancing and Alignment

Man checking tires
Image credit: Man checking tires by Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels

Over time, your car’s wheels will likely go out of alignment, especially if you frequently drive on dirt roads. Hitting a pothole or speed bump can also potentially put your wheels out of alignment. This is easily and cheaply remedied at a mechanic on a specialized machine, which uses computers to calculate if your front wheels are spinning parallel to each other.

If they are not, it will cause shaking and shuddering even at moderate speeds. Balancing involves adding small weights to each wheel to make sure they spin properly. Over time, these weights can break or fall off, and you’ll need a mechanic to balance them again. Unbalanced wheels are sure to lead to a vibrating car.

3. Rims

Ford rim
Image credit: Ford rim by martakor, Pixabay

A bent rim can also cause excessive vibration. Hitting a pothole at high speeds, or driving onto a curb while parking can potentially bend your wheel’s rim. Not only will this cause shaking, but after time it will damage your tire too. It’s an easy and cheap fix that a mechanic can rectify quickly.

4. Wheel Bearings

Wheel bearings will always eventually wear out. A damaged or loose wheel bearing can cause shaking, and if left too long, it can become dangerous, so it’s a good idea to get it fixed as soon as possible. A damaged wheel bearing will cause your car to shake, but it’s also usually accompanied by a high-pitched grinding sound, which gets louder as the bearing gets worse. Bearings are responsible for allowing your car’s wheels to move freely, and if they are damaged or worn, this freedom of movement gets worse and can result in vibrations at high speeds.

5. Brakes

Ferrari break disc
Image credit: Ferrari break disc by Lex Ger, Pexels

If your car is shuddering when you apply brakes, then there is likely a problem with your front brake pads or discs. They will wear out over time and need to be replaced every 50,000 miles or so. If you apply brakes and there is no vibration or the vibrations are felt through the steering wheel, it is most likely not your brakes causing the problem.

6. Shocks

Your car’s shock absorbers are responsible for giving you a smooth ride. If they get damaged or worn out, they can cause significant vibration. A damaged shock will also have a cascading effect and left unchecked, can quickly cause damage to your tires and other wheel components.

7. CV Joints

If you are getting vibrations when turning your steering wheel, your CV joints could be worn out. This will often be accompanied by a loud “clacking” sound when turning sharply. CV joints will take a beating if driven on bad roads, requiring frequent repairs.

It is commonly only one CV at a time that has a problem, though it’s best to replace both simultaneously, as you will need to check your car’s alignment after replacing them.

8. Steering

Bmw steering wheel
Image credit: Bmw steering wheel by Toby_Parsons, Pixabay

There are many components linked to your car’s steering system, and if you are feeling a strong vibration through the steering wheel, this could likely be the cause. Again, any damage to a steering component will have a compounding effect on the rest of your car, so it’s best to get it repaired as soon as possible.

Your steering rack can also wear out over time, causing shaking. Power steering hoses can leak fluid, causing it to potentially seize up and shake. Steering repairs are definitely a job best left for a professional.

9. Axles

If you have been in a minor accident, your car’s axles could be bent or damaged, causing your vehicle to shake. This can also happen from harsh driving on bad roads or from hitting curbs and potholes. However, if nothing like this has occurred, it’s most likely another cause.

10. Mud

Black suv driving through mud
Image credit: Black suv driving through mud by ahmad syahrir, Pexels

This is a relatively uncommon cause, but drivers who drive frequently on muddy roads know that mud can quickly cake up on the inside of your car’s rim, and if left to dry, it will become extremely hard. This extra uneven weight on the wheels can easily cause shaking at high speeds. A high-pressure hose will rectify the problem in no time. If you drive on muddy roads often, this is a simple check to do.

Summary

Hopefully, we’ve helped you identify the cause of shaking in your car and the steps you can take to remedy it. Remember, it’s always best to take your car to a professional mechanic for repairs, and

this list is by no means a replacement for a professional and experienced opinion.


Featured Image Credit: Man driving by Skitterphoto

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