What to Do if Your Car Shakes When Braking
September 26th, 2020 by Fix Auto USA
As you prepare to stop, you notice that the brake pedal appears to be vibrating. No, it’s not an earthquake, but when your brake pedal or steering wheel (or both) start shaking, it can sure feel like it, right? And it’s not an especially good feeling either, because any problem with your brakes is anxiety-provoking. And so you want to know what gives? Why does my car shake when I brake? And then, what can I do about it?
Why does my car shake when I brake?
Every car and situation is different, of course, but if your car vibrates when braking, in most cases, the cause is not the wheel alignment or a bad tire, but the braking apparatus itself.
One exception is if the vibrations can be felt while you’re on the freeway instead of braking. If the problem is unrelated to your brakes, it can probably be traced to your wheel alignment, an extremely worn tire, or a steering wheel problem. Other possibilities, though less likely, include a damaged axle shaft or loose lug nuts.
Why a Car Shakes When Braking
Warped Brake Rotors
For cars featuring disc brakes, the most common explanation of the shaking is a warped or malfunctioned rotor. Warping can occur over time, naturally, due to the heat unleashed by the friction between the brake pad and rotor. If your car vibrates when braking, this may be the most likely explanation.
What to do
Warped brake rotors can be resurfaced and restored by a professional auto shop. Keep in mind that even after this restoration procedure, the rotor could be susceptible to future warping again.
When your car sits for too long without being driven, corrosion can occur in the brake system. When the rotor area under the brake pad becomes corroded, it can cause your brake pedal to vibrate.
What to do
A rotor with accumulated corrosion can be repaired and restored by a qualified auto body or brake shop. Similar to the warped brake rotors, once it happens, it could happen again.
Out-of-round drums are brakes that have an uneven surface. Variations in thickness are typically the result of exposure to prolonged heat and normal wear and tear. In cars with drum brakes, out-of-round drums can cause pedal pulsation and vibration when you hit the brakes. Another sign is a squealing noise when you apply the brakes.
What to do
If the brake drums have deteriorated or show signs of damage, they can be restored as long as the amount of material that’s been lost isn’t significant. If it is, then you may need to replace the drum.
If your car vibrates when braking, it is not just annoying. It interferes with your car’s handling and impairs safe driving. It should be considered a serious problem, though one that is relatively easy for a qualified auto shop to diagnose and fix.
While there are many potential causes, pulsations that you experience only when braking are typically caused by a damaged rotor or out-of-round drum. If your car shakes when braking, it is good to err on the side of caution and bring it to a reliable auto repair shop to get it checked out. If you get in an accident, give Fix Auto a call. We will get your car back on the road to pre-accident condition as quickly and safely as possible.
This blog post was contributed by Fix Auto Lake Forest, a leading industry expert and collision repair shop servicing Orange County and surrounding areas.
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