13 Reasons Why Your Car Is Shaking While Driving

When driving your car around town, you expect a smooth drive as you cruise through the highway. Every turn should be smooth. Recently, you noticed something off about your car. It vibrates or shakes down the road. It started with a few shakes only in the morning but later became more frequent. Although you need to have a professional check it, here are some reasons why your car is shaking while driving.

What does it mean when your car shakes?

There are a few reasons that point to why a car shakes. The most common reasons would be the following.

  • Defective tire
  • Out of balance tire
  • A bent wheel
  • Worn driveline U-joint

There are other possible reasons for your car to shake, but these may be related to other problems. In the following sections, we will dig deeper into other reasons.

tire seen up close

Unbalanced Tires

Unbalanced tires result in a disoriented experience while riding a vehicle. All four tires should have an even weight distribution to keep everything balanced. If either of the tires is off-balance, you might experience shaking in the steering wheel.

If you recently purchased a new tire, the distribution of the weight may be a bit off. You will need to add weight to the tires to fix the issue. Alternatively, you can use a tire balancing machine.

Shaking will occur for as long as the tires are unbalanced. In most cases, an imbalance in the front wheels causes the vibration. It becomes most noticeable when you are driving at least 60 mph.

Regularly check the weight of all your tires at least once a week. If either of the tires has a different weight, immediately address the problem.

Unbalanced Wheels

If tires aren’t unbalanced, you might also want to check on your wheels. The wheels can cause a vehicle to shake while driving. If you look closely at the edge of your wheels, you will notice small metal squares that resemble refrigerator magnets. You call those wheel weights, which you use to balance wheels.

Should you want to see it, turn your steering wheel to one side. Your vehicle should be immobile. While doing this, take a look and see if there is any debris on your wheels. One of the common reasons for your car to vibrate is having unbalanced wheels. It is difficult to solve independently, so it is better to have a professional mechanic do it for you.

Damaged or Bent Wheels

As discussed in the previous section, an unbalanced wheel can cause your car to shake. Now, what about bent or damaged wheels? These certainly can cause it. While driving, keep an eye for sloppy road repairs and potholes. These can pose damage to your wheels.

Another thing to watch out for is runout, which describes how much a wheel would deviate from a circular rotation when spinning. Most wheel technicians use a tool to determine the degree of runout. Most of the time, a new wheel is a solution.

Engine Problems

If the wheels or tires are not the problem, it could be the engine. It happens when the engine is not getting enough fuel, air, or spark. Symptoms that could cause engine shakes to include the following:

car dashboard with engine lights on
  • The car starts and drives smoothly for a while but later begins shaking
  • Shakes within a specific speed range only
  • Jerking occurs when accelerating

These symptoms signal it is time for a new set of spark plugs. If they are still in top condition, you might need to check the wires as they might need replacement. A clogged fuel filter or a dirty air filter can deprive the oxygen of fuel or oxygen, respectively. Whenever needed, replace these filters. You may refer to the owner’s manual that came with your vehicle for more details on how to replace a filter. 

Bad Motor Mounts

Engine mounts or motor mounts are parts that keep your engine fastened. If you ever opened and checked what is under the hood, it might look like the engine is put in place by just a wedge. However, the car’s chassis secures the motor mounts. It varies in appearance, such as shape and size.

Rubber and metal are the primary materials that make up a motor mount. You can find this in between the frame and the engine. In simpler terms, you always fasten the engine to a structural component.

car issues

The metal part in a motor mount provides structural integrity in holding everything in place. The rubber helps absorb the engine’s vibrations. These materials will wear out over time, so we recommend periodical replacement.

What happens if the metal mounts have worn out? The metal will no longer provide a firm brace between the chassis and the engine. Moreover, the rubber will no longer absorb all the vibrations. 

High-performance models have engines made of firmer materials, so they don’t absorb as many vibrations. Bad motor mounts could shake your vehicle, but that does not mean it always comes from it. Suppose it happens when braking. You might be having brake problems.

Brake Trouble

Does your car shake whenever you apply the brakes? If yes, there is a huge chance it has warped brake rotors.

The silver disc-shaped component of a vehicle is the rotor. It can get bent and deformed due to tear and heavy wear. A deformed rotor is not uniformly flat. Some areas are raised or lowered, depending on the surface part. The brake pads and calipers squeeze the brake rotors to stop the car from running. An uneven surface causes inconsistencies in the grip, resulting in vibration. 

Axle Problems

Vehicles have to rotate, reciprocating parts that fall within tolerances or measurements. If an axle gets deformed, it will cause vibration. You might also want to check the driveshaft when it happens. This part transfers engine power to the wheels and the rear axles. 

Loose Steering Components

When driving a new car and an old one after the other, you will notice the steering in the old car is looser and less responsive than the old car. The newer models will respond faster to the steering wheel, meaning the vehicle turns should be more accurate. Some are deliberately engineered to have a delayed response depending on the type. 

The steering components can and will wear out in time, similar to other parts. It will happen gradually, so you will not notice it right away. Several parts connect the four wheels on the ground with the steering wheel. When those parts start wearing out, there may be a significant delay on the vehicle’s wheels.

It is best to leave it with professionals as these components are complicated and delicate. 

Power Steering Problems

Does your car shake only when turning the steering wheel? If yes, you may be encountering problems with your power steering system. Check the hoses and look for visible leaks. Check the reservoir to see if it needs refilling.

You can also replicate the issue while your car is not moving. If the problem is in the power steering system, you should feel the vibrations as you turn the steering wheel. If you don’t, there may be other problems. 

Low Rolling or Profile Resistance Tires

Low-profile tires have grown their popularity with the rise of EVs and hybrid cars. Low profiling tires reduce resistance and drag, boosting the EPA fuel economy rating. However, these tires are harder to drive and are not the best option for most drivers.

Low rolling resistance cars have harder or less material. It results in less absorption of pits, bumps, and texture on the road. If you are using this type of tire, it may be causing your problems. However, you may also want to eliminate other potential causes.

Bad Tires

Dry, bald, old, or worn-out tires are common sources of road vibration. Tires are the primary part of your car that has contact with the road and typically have a short lifespan.

There are plenty of reasons for a tire to contribute to shakes, but here are some of the popular ones:

  • Uneven tire wear
  • The treads in the tires are separated
  • The tires are too old
  • The tire pressure is too low
  • The tire is no longer circular

Damaged Bearings

Have the bearings checked if your steering wheel starts to shake while turning? It is a part of your car because it connects the wheel to the axle. Driving fast on rough roads could damage the bearings.

Worn Out Suspension Parts

The suspension systems and steering wheel work together. What does it mean? If either gets damaged, the functions of the other get impacted. Any damage to the suspension system makes it difficult to steer and could cause the wheel to vibrate. 

Car shakes when driving at high speeds over 60-70 mph

Tires are the most probable reason for a vehicle to shake at over 60 to 70 mph. It would start at around 50 to 55 mph. However, it gets worse when it reaches 60 mph.

If you have identified that tires are not the problem, you may check the brake rotors. A shaking steering wheel while braking indicates a problem with the brake rotors. You can also feel the vibration through the pedals.

If you think the brake rotors are not the issue, you may want to check on the brake caliper. Sticking will cause shaking through the steering wheel. It starts when you reach a speed of at least 45 to 50 mph. It worsens as you accelerate, coupled with a burning odor when you stop.

The great news is you can correct or avoid these problems. You can purchase a new set of tires if you are experiencing issues. Subsequently, do regular preventative maintenance services to lessen problems from happening.

Regular brake caliper service would easily avoid brake problems. It is most important for vehicles that have reached over 75,000 miles. Moreover, you should also regularly replace the brake tires. You can perform tire and brake suspensions during an oil change. Alternatively, you can have it every six months. 

Why does my car shake when I accelerate?

A damaged or loose engine mount would be the first to blame if your car only shakes when accelerating. If your engine mounts are loose or damaged, they cannot effectively absorb the vibrations a cranking engine produces.

In some cases, the culprit may also be a misaligned suspension system and steering. Although these two issues may be similar, they have very different solutions. Please bring it to the nearest shop for the most accurate diagnosis and fix. 

Why is my car shaking when I stop?

There are a couple of reasons we can associate with a shaking car when idling. Whether driving or on a complete stop, it should run smoothly. The shaking usually starts in your steering. If you notice any, it is time to visit a mechanic.

Below are some reasons it might be shaking when on a complete stop.

Loose or worn out belts

If the belts are loose, it can cause other parts to operate inefficiently. It results in weird noises and shaking. A mechanic can check if a belt is loose. If it is, you need to get a replacement.

Broken motor mounts

If the motor or engine mounts are disconnected from the engine, it can cause your car to shake. If the shaking disappears when your vehicle is neutral, this could indicate a problem with the mounts.

Loose or disconnected hoses

A vehicle has vacuum hoses, which connect to various engine parts. It helps to clear exhaust fumes and gas. If any of these hoses are leaking, it can lead to a lot of shaking. Some of the problems that may arise are losing power and engine misfiring. It could even be shutting down entirely.

Faulty fuel intake

Like other parts in your vehicle, the fuel intake system can get clogged. When this happens, an unequal volume of fuel flow through the engine. It can cause your engine to shake. 

Why is my car shaking when I start it?

Shaking is usually normal when you start it. However, excessive movement may mean there are other problems.

  • Broken engine mount
  • Issues with the brake system
  • Wheels are not balanced
  • Misaligned tires 

FAQ

Is it safe to drive when your car is shaking?

It is safe because there is no immediate danger to the passengers in a shaking car. However, it will pose a danger and damage. It could cause damage to the catalytic converter or engine.

So what do you do when it shakes? You take it to the nearest mechanic. 

Why is my car shaking when I accelerate?

If your car shakes while accelerating, you may be facing damage in at least one of the following parts:
-Engine mounts
– Inner CV joint
– Unbalanced tires
– Driveshaft
– Lug nuts
– Axle
– Brake Caliper
– Vacuum hose
– Spark plugs
You will need to replace or repair the part for everything mentioned above. 

What do you do when your car shakes while driving?

Bring it to the closest mechanic shop for inspection as soon as possible. If you are near home, park it and use different transportation. Continuously driving will only result in more damage.

Why does my car shake when I drive slow?

The same things apply when your vehicle shakes if you are driving it slowly. It could be a broken engine mount, a loose lug nut, or even unbalanced tires.

How do I locate the nearest mechanic store?

If you don’t have a go-to mechanic store, a simple search on the internet could point you to one. If you are far from your go-to store, you can visit the nearest. 

Should I be alarmed as soon as I experience shaking in my car?

You don’t have to panic when you start experiencing it. Most of the time, it takes weeks from the onset of shaking before something serious happens.