You’re listening to your favorite dubstep song and the bass is going crazy. You turn the song off and your car is still vibrating. There are a lot of reasons why your car is shaking, and we’re here to help you.
In this guide, we’ll teach you about 15 reasons why your car is shaking, and we’ll tell you how to fix them.
15 Reasons Why Your Car Is Shaking (and How to Fix It)
This list should help you troubleshoot what issues are going on. We’ll identify what the root cause might be and point to a solution that can help you. Sometimes you can handle the issue on your own, but other times you might be forced to visit a mechanic.
If you’re feeling vibrations while your driving, it could be your tires. After all, the tires are the only point of contact between your car and the road (unless something is horribly wrong).
“Damaged” is a pretty broad term that can encompass just about any issue – a tire blowout, flat tire, uneven tread, or any type of uneven wear cross the tires can cause a small vibration.
Solution: Start by checking the health of your tires using our guide. The solution will depend on what type of damage you see.
If there’s excessive damage to one or two of the tires, you’ll need to replace them or the full set, depending on how used the tires are. In the case of a flat, just quickly replace the flat tire using our flat tire changing guide here.
If you look at the physics of a spinning car tire, you need the assembly to be perfectly balanced or else you’ll notice a vibration. This leads us to the second culprit – your rims.
If your rims are bent, dented, or even scratched deeply, you might start feeling a vibration. This is often the case after hitting a curb – don’t worry, we won’t tell your spouse.
Solution: A quick visual inspection will tell you everything you need to know. If there’s sizeable damage to a rim and you notice vibrations from that side, you’ll need to take your car to the shop and have them put on a new rim.
Improperly Balanced Tires
As we just mentioned, the balance of your tires is really important. Whenever you get a new tire installed, it should always be balanced ahead of time. The balancing process ensures that there’s an even distribution of weight along the center axle of your car.
This balancing lets you achieve a smooth ride and gets rid of the bumps and shakes that you will see otherwise.
Solution: Unless you have the equipment at home, you’ll need a pro to balance your tires. Take your car to a local auto shop or car service station.
Bad Brake Rotors
The brake rotor is the part of your brake assembly that does a lot of the work. It’s the smooth metal plate that your rubber brake pads will push against. When it’s not so smooth, the result is pretty predictable: vibrations.
If you didn’t know, your brake pads are always in contact with the rotors a little bit. If there is any unevenness, a crack, or warping on the rotor, your brake pads will make a rhythmic little song and give you plenty of shaking.
Solution: First, find out which rotor is the problem. Do this by taking off your tire and looking at the rotors. Change the rotor and perform a brake pad replacement to get rid of that annoying vibration. You might need to replace the other rotor and pad on the same axle to ensure even braking (depending on how worn the brakes are).
Problem with Power Steering
If the car only shakes when you’re turning the steering wheel, something is probably wrong with your steering assembly. It’s probably a matter of your power steering. There’s a fluid that helps you steer your car, unlike the olden days where you had to crank on the steering wheel to make a turn.
Solution: Check your power steering fluid level. If it’s black or worn, it’s time to change it. If there’s a leak in your power steering line, the fluid reservoir will be low. Before topping it off, replace the broken part in the line.
The driveshaft is the link between your transmission and the wheels. Since so much energy is moving through this shaft, it needs to be perfectly balanced. If the driveshaft is to blame, you’ll feel extra vibrations as you accelerate, and plenty of shaking as you go a constant speed.
Solution: It’s a little hard to diagnose. If you see rust and noticeable damage, then there’s a good chance that your driveshaft is out of balance. The best thing to do is take your car to a mechanic and let them take care of it.
Steering Components Gone Bad
There are a few mechanical components that also go into your steering assembly. Any one of these can go bad and result in a nasty vibration. Again, this typically presents itself only when you’re turning the steering wheel.
Solution: Have a mechanic look over your steering assembly and replace any problem pieces.
Wheel Bearings are Bad
A failing wheel bearing has a lot of the same symptoms of a bad steering component. The wheel bearings go in the steering hub and they’re the things that allow your wheels to freely rotate.
If the bearings are shot, then the wheels are able to move within their mounting location. This results in vibrations and shaking at any speed. At high speeds, you’ll hear a high-pitched noise which is a good clue about who the suspect is.
Solution: You just need to replace the wheel bearings. You might be able to handle it on your own (following this guide), or take it to a shop.
Issues with Your Axle
Any general issue with your axle will cause vibrations in your car. This is the piece that links your two wheels together. If it’s damaged, misaligned, not balanced, or not correctly affixed, there will be vibrations.
Solution: This problem might be too big for you to handle. It’s best to let a professional mechanic take care of it.
Bad Timing Belt
If your engine is a grand orchestra, the timing belt is the conductor. It’s a ribbed piece of rubber that helps keep everything in synch. It ensures the engine fires correctly and transfers the power correctly. If your timing belt is bad, things will get out of synch which results in vibrations.
Solution: Change your timing belt. It’s a very straightforward process and you can probably handle it on your own.
Misfiring Spark Plug
Speaking of things working in synch, you also need to make sure all your spark plugs are singing in harmony. A misfiring spark plug will cause a noticeable vibration and knocking sound.
You can check your spark plugs pretty easily. The part is generally only good for 80,000-100,000 miles before it needs to be replaced.
Solution: If you suspect it’s the spark plugs, simply replace all of them. This can be done on your own without a mechanic.
Sticky Brake Calipers
The brake caliper is the clip that pushes your brake pad into your rotor. It’s the best wingman of all time, as far as the brake pad is concerned.
If the calipers are sticking, then that means that they are applying too much pressure between the two and causing a rattle while you drive along.
Solution: Calipers are inexpensive and can be easily replaced. You need to do all the steps that you would if you were changing your brake pads, then just swap out the calipers too.
Loose Engine Mounts
Your engine has to be securely fastened to the framework of your car. The engine has a ton of power cranking out of it and if it isn’t mounted correctly, it will just be dancing and vibrating within the engine bay.
Solution: Check all the bolts that are within reach. For certain vehicles, you might not be able to access the mounts and would need to take it to a shop.
A Faulty Fuel Injector
If your car is seeing an intermittent amount of fuel, it can cause sporadic burning which results in a lot of vibrations. The fuel injector is the little mechanism that introduces the fuel into the area where it goes to burn. If it spurts or doesn’t provide a steady stream, your engine will knock, rattle, and you’ll feel a vibration.
Solution: Replace the fuel injector. This is a trickier project so you’ll need a pro if you’re not comfortable.
Misaligned Steering or Suspension
If your steering wheel shakes when you accelerate, you might have something misaligned. Again, the steering system requires some precision and balance. If it’s not perfect, then you’ll experience varying levels of awful shakes.
Solution: It’s hard to tell by a visual inspection what’s wrong. If you want to fix the problem on your own, you’ll have to replace items one at a time and see if that fixes the problem. We suggest going to an auto shop in this case.
Now you know everything you need to know about what’s causing the vibration in your car. We outlined 15 potential causes and explained a simple solution to each one. If your car is rattling, it could be a sign of a bigger problem – it’s always best to address and fix the problem as soon as possible. For more car maintenance guides, explore the rest of our blog. Don’t forget to learn what tools and accessories you need for your car!