Why Does Your Car Shake When You Brake?

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Source: The following is excerpted from Jonathon Klein’s post on TheDrive.com about brake issues which can cause shudder and do-it-yourself instructions on changing brake components.

If you had any doubts, no, your car’s steering wheel shouldn’t feel like a display product for As Seen On TV’s “Shake Weight. Vibrations severe enough for you to notice equate to your car’s natural warning notification and can be the result of various issues that you need to fix ASAP.

Along with brake pad, caliper, and rotor issues, your car Harlem Shaking down the block may also be caused by suspension and tire issues that affect your car’s safety.

Diagnosing the exact culprit can seem impossible to those who aren’t adept in the ways of a mechanic. Don’t worry, The Drive’s info team is here to help. Let’s figure it out and fix it!

Related post:
TBR Technical Corner: Judder Vibration Path Analysis (JPA) and Chassis Dynamic Behaviour (Part 2 out of 3)

Unless you’re gifted with the ability to diagnose a car instantly like a Formula 1 engineer, you’ll likely need to diagnose the problem by process of elimination. By doing so, you can eliminate a host of likely suspects. However, even compiling a list can be daunting.

That’s why The Drive’s editors put together this shortlist of the most common reasons why your car shakes when you brake.

Warped Brake Rotors

In a car’s braking system, a brake caliper applies pressure to a brake pad which clamps down on a brake rotor. Warped brake rotors occur when the caliper and pad are applied to the rotor in uneven pressure or when the rotor becomes so hot that the metal becomes distorted. When you brake on a warped rotor, the car will shake, as the metal is no longer straight.

Stuck Brake Caliper

Either stuck clamping the rotor or open and not clamping the rotor at all, a stuck brake caliper can produce shaking when you apply the brakes as you’re applying uneven pressure to the rotors.

Air Trapped In the Brake Lines

If air gets into a brake line, it can produce uneven pressure across the brake calipers and pads, which could make the car shake when you apply the brakes.

Worn Brake Pads

Your average brake pad is engineered to last about 50,000 miles, though driving styles, use, and environmental factors affect their longevity. Hard stops, sharp stabs, and poorly modulated left-foot braking can affect your brake pads’ health. Other variables include faulty brake calipers, the air in your hydraulic brake lines, or leaving your car sitting for more than a year.

As such, a worn brake pad, or a pad that wore asymmetrically, could produce a pulsating feeling and cause the front of your car to shake when you apply the brakes.

Out-of-Round Drum Brakes

When the drums on older vehicles are out-of-round, or unevenly worn, applying the brakes can cause vibrations to come through the steering wheel.

The entire post can be viewed by clicking HERE.

The Brake Report
The Brake Report

The BRAKE Report is an online media platform dedicated to the automotive and commercial vehicle brake segments. Our mission is to provide the global brake community with the latest news & headlines from around the industry.