Few things can be more annoying than a car that is shaking while driving at higher speeds, especially if you are driving for long distances.
But what could cause these shakes or vibrations, and do you need to fix the issue immediately? Let’s find out!
In this article, we will discuss the 8 most common reasons why your car is shaking or vibrating while driving. Let’s begin with a quick look at the signs to look for.
The most common reason why your car is shaking or vibrating while driving is due to damaged or unbalanced tires & rims. It can also be caused by damaged brake rotors, driveshaft issues, or bad wheel bearings.
As you see, there could be a lot of different potential problems causing this issue, but it’s not all of them. Here is a more detailed list of the most common causes why your car is shaking or vibrating:
8 Causes of Car Shaking or Vibrating While Driving
1. Damaged Tires or Rims
The most common reason why your car is shaking; is damaged tires or rims. These issues could occur either from just the age of the tire or from a smaller accident.
Tires need to get replaced once in a while because they are made of rubber, which will get old with age and start to crack. If the tires are getting worn, it can cause bubbles and uneven surfaces on the tires, which will cause your car to vibrate.
Another common issue is that you have been driving into a curb or something similar and damaged either the tire or the rim.
If you haven’t replaced your tires in a while or if you know that you had a small accident against a curb – it is definitely time to make a careful visual inspection of your tires and the wheels.
2. Improper Tire Balance
Another widespread reason is improper tire balance. Over time, your car tires lose their balance which causes vibrations. This can be either due to the tires’ age or if the balance weights come loose, especially if you have glued weights which is common on aluminum rims.
To fix this problem, take your car to a tire shop for tire balancing. This procedure involves adding small amounts of weights to each wheel, and it is done using a machine.
You can find out more information about the whole procedure here: 5 Symptoms of Unbalanced Tires & Tire Balancing Cost
3. Faulty Brake Rotors
Faulty brake rotors are another thing that could cause vibrations and shaking while driving because the brake pads are always pushing slightly against the brake rotors.
If the car vibrates even more when applying a slight force to the brake pedal and if you feel the steering wheel’s vibrations, the problem is most likely with the car’s front brake rotors.
If you feel extra vibrations when braking, but not from the steering wheel, it may be the rear brake rotors that are worn.
The brake pads and rotors will get worn over time and need replacement. On average, the car’s brake rotors should be changed every 70,000 – 90,000 miles.
More information: 7 Symptoms of Bad Brake Rotors & Resurface Cost
4. Power Steering Problem
Check to see if the car vibrates or shakes only when you are turning the steering wheel. If so, then the problem could be with the power steering system.
To fix the problem, check the power steering system for leaks and ensure that the power steering fluid level is good. If the power steering fluid looks black and worn, it may be time to change it.
Listen if you can hear any noises from the power steering pump when the car engine is running – if so, you may have a faulty power steering pump.
5. CV Axle or Driveshaft Problem
The CV axles or driveshaft transfers power from the transmission to your wheels. These axles need to be well-balanced not to create vibrations or shaking while driving.
If any of your axles are bent or damaged due to harsh driving or just wear, the car will start to shake. The shaking intensity will increase as you accelerate the car, but you can often feel them at constant speeds also.
Just by inspecting the axles visually is most often not any idea because the differences are too small to see them with your eyes. However, if they look rusty or have other damages, it may be a reason to suspect that they are out of balance.
6. Damaged Steering Components
The steering components play an important part in the driveability of your car. They need to be super steady without any whatsoever play; otherwise, you will notice big driveability issues with your car.
With time, they will wear out, and it will create play in the bushings and ball joints. This will cause the wheel alignment to become bad, and this can also create vibrations during your driving because the tire angles are fighting against each other.
Raise the wheels of the car and rub the wheel to the left and right. You should not feel any play, and the wheels should be steady.
7. Loose or Bad Wheel Bearing
Loose or worn wheel bearings and loose steering components are closely linked and have similar symptoms. The wheel bearings are mounted on the steering hub and allow the wheels to rotate freely.
If these bearings wear out, the wheel can move freely from side to side at any speed, causing disturbing vibrations.
You will often also hear a high noise while driving at a higher speed when your car suffers from a bad wheel bearing.
8. Engine Problems
Sometimes the problem does not lie within the brakes or wheels; the engine causes it.
If your car begins to shake while driving at a constant speed or jerking occurs during acceleration, the chances are that the problem is with the engine and not the suspension.
This can happens due to a wrong air-fuel mixture in the engine, which causes misfires. It can also happen because of misfires caused by worn ignition parts. However, if you have engine problems, the engine light will also show up on your dashboard.
Therefore, if you experience that your car is shaking while driving and at the same time you have a check engine light on the dashboard – it is definitely time to read the trouble codes from the engine control unit.