Many car issues can cause the vehicle to shake while braking. This can be a potentially serious issue that can make it extremely unsafe for you to drive the vehicle, so it is best if you know the common reasons that braking vibration can happen. That way, you’re better prepared to determine if it is safe to continue driving or if you should call a tow truck and head straight to the repair shop. Regardless of why it’s happened, you should understand that the shaking or vibration is likely to worsen with time.
Your steering wheel might shake if the brake pads are contaminated with dirt, oil, and other debris. The pads can be the cause of vibration when they grip on the rotor. The shaking might also happen if the pads are damaged, excessively worn, or warped. You can likely tell it’s the brake pads because you’ll hear a high-pitched screech or whine when you brake.
The easiest way to fix this problem is to replace the brake pads. This issue can get worse over time, and the brakes could fail altogether, so it’s best to replace them as soon as you can.
As the rotor surface wears down with time, it becomes uneven. The unevenness of the rotor can require the brake pads to grab it unevenly or could cause the steering wheel and brake pedal to shake without warning. The shaking and vibrations you feel can often happen when you brake at higher speeds. The rotors can warp over time because of the heat that’s generated from braking.
You can fix the problem by having the rotors replaced or resurfaced. When you go for the repair, you should note that you should replace/resurface both rotors (the rear or front set), even if just one of them is causing the shaking. Along with such, most mechanics recommend that you replace your brake pads when you replace the rotors because the pads also have worn surfaces that won’t make proper contact with your new, smooth rotors. Therefore, if you don’t replace both at the same time, you might have to wait for the surfaces to align correctly, which gives you a rougher ride and can wear out the rotor more quickly, as well.
If your tires are out of alignment, then it is likely that the brake pedals are going to vibrate when you press down on the brakes. Misalignment is also the cause of other issues, as well, such as suspension component damage and faster tire wear. If you’re unsure if the tires are aligned correctly, you can test for the problem. Make sure that no other drivers are nearby on a straight road where you can legally go up to 60 mph. Get up to 60 mph and let go of your steering wheel for a moment or two. If the vehicle immediately tries going left or right, you likely have a misalignment issue.
To fix the problem, go to a mechanic or tire shop and get an alignment. You can have just two of the wheels aligned or get all four aligned. The professional should inspect the vehicle to determine which one you require.
Tie rods, ball joints, wheel bearings, and other suspension components can wear out over time, and any of those problems could cause brake problems. If the vehicle vibrates or shakes only when you’re turning or coming around a corner, the suspension is the most likely cause. If the shaking primarily happens when braking, it’s likely the rotors and/or pads are the problem.
You can fix the problem by getting the suspension inspected to determine the cause and repair whatever is wrong.