There are a few things that are more annoying than a shaking steering wheel while you are driving.
A shaking steering wheel is bad for your car, and it may wear out bushings and other suspension parts very fast. This is why you should fix a shaking steering wheel as quickly as possible.
In this article, I will teach you the most common causes of a shaking steering wheel and how you can fix it as fast as possible.
Possible Causes of a Shaking Steering Wheel
There are many different causes when a shaking or vibrating steering wheel occurs, but I will list the most common ones and show you in which direction you should start troubleshooting. This is a general list of possible causes.
Go further down in the article to find the topic that fits you the most.
- Unbalanced/Damaged Wheels, Tires, Rims (Most common)
- Unbalanced/Damaged brake rotors
- Worn bushings/Front suspension parts
- Unbalanced/Damaged Driveshafts (If front-wheel drive)
- Unbalanced/Damaged Cardan/Prop shaft (If rear-wheel drive/4wd)
Steering Wheel Shaking at High Speeds
If your steering wheel shakes at high speeds and you feel no more or no less shaking when braking or accelerating, the most common problem is unbalanced tires or damage to one of your wheels.
If you feel heavy shaking in the steering wheel when driving, the problem is most likely with one of the front wheels.
Check the tires & rims
Jack up your front wheels and turn them in the air while checking the tires for bumps. The tires may separate, and the tire may get bumps that make your steering wheel wobble. Also, look for rough marks and damage to the rims.
If there is a lot of dirt on the rims, clean it and try again. Check that your tire pressure is correct with a tire pressure meter. If you want to buy one, you can check out one in our article Best Tire Pressure Gauge.
Switch the front and rear wheels
You can try changing the front and rear wheels to see if the problem changes or disappears. If you notice a difference, you probably have an unbalanced tire.
Check front suspension
Check your front suspension for worn bushings, or damaged or loose parts. Try pushing both front wheels in all directions when the front is jacked up to check for strange noises.
Balance the wheels
If you find no damage to the tires or rims and no loose parts in the suspension, the wheels may be uneven and unbalanced. If you check the inside or outside of the rim, you may see some mounted weights. These weights are used to balance the wheel. Sometimes the balancing weights loosen and fall off, causing the wheel to become unbalanced.
To balance with new balance weights, you must use a wheel balancing machine. Most workshops have such a machine and the costs are often not that high, about $20-100 depending on where you live.
4wd and rear wheel drive cars
If you have a rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive car, the shaking is usually caused by an unbalanced Cardan shaft when it occurs during acceleration. This can be difficult to diagnose without a balancing device, and you should always check the above before replacing the Cardan shaft.
What you can do is check the joints to see if they are damaged. If you have a damaged joint, you can often just replace the joint, but it is difficult to balance it 100%. Therefore I recommend that you have this done by a garage, or replace the Cardan shaft entirely.
Steering wheel shaking while braking at high or low speeds
If your steering wheel only shakes while you are braking, there is most likely a problem with your front brake discs. If you can feel the vibrations while braking, but not in the steering wheel, the problem may be with your rear brake rotors.
Inspect for any damages on the front brake rotors
Jack up the front of your car and check the front discs for damage or rust. It is important to check the inside of the discs. You can also do this easily by removing the tire for inspection.
In many cases, the disc itself will have become unbalanced (especially on BMWs) and caused shocks and vibrations in the steering wheel. If the discs are in good condition and there is a lot of material left over, you can give the discs to a garage so they can turn them for you. But with my experience, it is often cheaper and will give a much better result if you buy new discs and replace the old ones.
Inspect the front suspension
The shaking during braking could also be caused by a worn bush in your front suspension. This is not an everyday problem, but it may be worth checking the brake discs before you go ahead and replace them.
Steering Wheel shaking on acceleration
If your car only shakes when accelerating and you have front-wheel drive, a possible cause is an unbalanced driveshaft or CV joint. Check if the driveshafts and CV joints are damaged. Check if you feel any play that should not be there.
If you have a rear-wheel drive and can feel vibrations when accelerating, but not in the steering wheel, there is most likely a problem with the rear driveshafts or Cardan shaft.
In my experience, this could be hard to diagnose with the right tools, and even with them! I can almost certainly tell you that if you feel a massive increase in vibration when you accelerate heavily, there is a problem with the driveline.
Give the driveshaft to a real professional for an accurate diagnosis, or replace it if you feel confident doing so. Finding out whether it is the left or right drive shaft can be difficult without balancing.
Steering wheel shaking while turning on acceleration
If your steering wheel is shaking only when you are turning and accelerating, it is most likely a worn out CV joint. You can probably also hear some sort of clapping noise from them.
If you hear that sound, check the CV joint gaiter for any leaks. If grease is leaking out from the gaiters, and water pours in, the joints will get damaged quickly, and you will probably have to replace the CV joint. Sometimes you can replace the gaiter and fill it with new grease, but it’s often just a temporary solution, and after a few miles, the sound will come back.
Test if it’s the left or right CV joint
Drive to a parking lot, turn the steering wheel to the left as far as possible and start accelerating. When you do this, you will hear the sound and you can probably tell whether it is the left or right CV joint.
The most common cause of shaking in the steering wheel is an unbalanced wheel or a damaged tire or rim. Always start by checking these parts, if the shaking is consistent. Balancing your wheels at a workshop is often not that expensive and could be worth it, even if there is another fault. Uneven front brake discs are a common cause if the steering wheel is shaking when braking.
If you have any other kinds of shaking from your steering wheel and can’t find it in the article, you can comment down below, and I will answer your question as fast as possible. You can also tell your story of how you fixed your shaking problem.
If you have any other questions about this topic, leave a comment down below!