Why Does Your Car Vibrate While Braking?
By Bavarian Performance Specialists November 15, 2018
As a car owner, you expect your car to get you from place to place safely. You also probably expect a smooth ride. But what if your car was vibrating every time you used your brakes? Not only would that make your car rides less enjoyable, but it would also likely cause some worry.
Luckily, your brakes are likely working just fine, so you don’t need to be concerned about your safety. Still, you probably want to put the smoothness back in your drive, so we’ve gathered the most common reasons for a shaking car as well as the right steps you can take to get it fixed.
Most common causes:
Worn or Dirty Brake Pads
The pads are one of the most important pieces of your brake system. They are the part that clamps down in order to bring you safely to a stop. But the more you brake, the more they wear down. When the pads become so worn from the heat naturally created during braking that they can’t grip the rotors consistently, your car may shake as you are slowing down. In addition, if dirt, debris, oil, or rust gets on the brake pads, it creates an uneven surface and thus causes vibration while braking.
The most common cause for vibration in your steering wheel or brake pedal is a misshapen rotor. The rotors are the part of your brake system that the pads clamp down on. Similar to the pads, the heat generated during braking can cause the rotors to wear down over time. Eventually, their normally flat surface will warp, causing uneven braking and thus a pulsing or shaking. It is also possible that your rotors are not tightened evenly, so you should have a qualified mechanic take a look.
If your wheels are misaligned or there is a lug nut loose, that can also cause shaking while you brake. Though your car should come with perfectly aligned wheels, everyday occurences like hitting potholes or curbs can cause them to become imbalanced. This can cause shaking when you press your brake pedal, but can also lead to further issues such as faster tire wear and suspension issues.
Your suspension system is made up of many parts, such as springs, shocks, struts and more. Any of these pieces can become worn over time and cause vibrations, so you should have them checked regularly by a qualified mechanic.
How to Diagnose the Cause
You won’t always be able to diagnose the cause without the help of a certified technician, but if you believe your car is vibrating due to your brake pads, rotors or wheels, there are steps you can take to determining the reason before taking your car to a professional for repairs.
If you take a look at the visible parts of your brake system, the rotors and pads should not have cracks or grooves in them. The pads should show an even wear with plenty of pad material left. You can also spin the rotor by hand to feel for any imperfections. If anything seems too worn, warped or damaged, it’s time to take your car in for a repair.
To test the alignment of your car, you’ll need to actually drive it. Driving on a smooth, flat highway with no traffic, bring your car up to speed then allow your grip to loosen a bit on the steering wheel, allowing the car to determine the direction. If it immediately pulls to the left or right, the alignment of your car is likely off.
Even with these tools in mind, the best way to get a definitive diagnosis and plan for repair is to seek out a certified repair shop.
How to Fix It
Even though there is no immediate danger to driving with vibrating brakes, you should still try to get your car repaired as soon as possible. Our service technicians at Bavarian Performance Specialists have been servicing European cars since 1983 at our location convenient to Thousand Oaks, Agoura Hills, Westlake, Malibu and Newbury Park, CA. Offering an array of services, including brake repairs and wheel alignment using Beissbarth technology, at an affordable price, our team is dedicated to our clients’ safety and driving pleasure. If you are experiencing vibrations while braking, call for an appointment today.