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Why Does my Car Shake When I Brake? (Symptoms)

As you approach a stop sign, your car starts to jiggle and shake as you apply the brakes. No, the road is perfectly smooth, but your car is giving you a full-body massage you don’t want. You naturally wonder, “Why does my car shake when I brake?”

Why Does my Car Shake When I Brake?

How do Brakes Work?

Even inexperienced drivers understand brakes slow a vehicle by impairing the ability of the wheels to turn.

Slowing the rotation of the wheels causes the car to slow.

When comparing cars, you’ll notice that two types of brakes are standard on almost all modern vehicles.

Disc brakes are the most common, but they still use drum brakes in a few cars, usually on the rear wheels.

They couple a metal disc known as the rotor to the wheel in a disc brake.

They equip each rotor with a clamping device known as a caliper.

It allows the rotor-and-wheel combination to freely rotate until the driver presses the brake pedal.

This pressure causes hydraulic fluid in the braking system to move, bringing the brake pad closer to the disc and slowing the wheel.

More pressure on the brake pedal increases hydraulic system pressure, tightening the brake pad’s grip on the rotor.

Drum brakes attach a hollow metal drum to the wheel.

When they apply hydraulic pressure via the brake pedal and braking system, “shoes” within the drum apply friction to the inside circumference of the drum, slowing the wheel.

Again, applying more pressure to the brake pedal causes the brake shoes to apply more pressure to the drum.

Causing the wheel to slow down faster.


Why Does my Car Shake When I Brake?

The most common cause of shaking in a vehicle equipped with disc brakes is a warped or otherwise damaged rotor.

Normal wear can cause warping.

The repeated application of the brake pad to the rotor will wear away the rotor material in that contact area.

Because your braking system comprises several components, you may need to narrow it down.

This is to determine which specific braking component is causing your car to shake.

These components work together to slow or stop your vehicle.

If one is worn, cracked, or simply broken, the entire system can become out of whack and require a brake replacement.

Why Does my Car Shake When I Brake?

 Brake Pads Needs to be Replaced

Brake pads deteriorate over time; there is no way around it.

You may also feel vibrations depending on how the pads or rotor wear.

The vibration you’re experiencing could be the wear indicator for the brake pad.

It emits a high-pitched squeal when it’s time to replace it.

When you press the brakes, this metal tab on the pad may cause some light vibration.

If your vehicle vibrates and makes an annoying squealing sound when you apply the brakes, it’s time to have your brakes serviced.

Problems with Suspension

If you notice your vehicle shakes not only when you hit the brakes but also while driving normally, you may have a suspension problem.

Small rocks and potholes can wear down your car’s axle, causing suspension damage.

Suspension problems could also be at work if your vehicle shakes when stopping.

Axle damage also affects the constant velocity (CV) joint, which is connected to the vehicle’s axle.

The vehicle may shake if the rubber boots that protect the CV joint become damaged by holes or become clogged with dirt and debris.

Almost every impact on the axle system affects this joint.

Stuck Brake Calipers

The brake calipers are to push the brake pads against the rotors.

When you apply the brakes, hydraulic brake fluid fills chambers in the caliper.

This forces the caliper piston(s) outward and against the pads, slowing the rotor.

The harder you brake, the more fluid pressure builds up in the calipers and the more pressure is applied to the brake pads and rotors.

If the caliper or caliper pistons become stuck, it cannot properly squeeze the brake pads against the rotors.

This may cause vibrations when you hit the brakes.

If you only feel vibration in the steering wheel, it could be due to the calipers sticking and failing to press the pads against the rotors.

Wheel Rims That Have Bent

Bent wheel rims, like worn and misaligned tires, can cause your vehicle to drift while driving.

If you drive through potholes, you are likely to have a bent rim.

When driving at high speeds with bent rims, you may notice light vibrations from your vehicle.

When you increase your speed, you may notice that the vibrations worsen.

Bent rims cause vibrations in your steering wheel. It’s critical to address the rims before they cause further damage.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I Stop my Car Shaking when I Brake?

An auto mechanic may be able to adjust, shim, or resurface the rotors to compensate for the unevenness.

2. Is it Bad if my Car Shakes when I Brake?

Your wheels may be out of alignment, or you may have a bad tire that is unbalanced.

3. Why does my Car Vibrate when I Press the Brakes?

If the caliper or caliper pistons become stuck, it is unable to properly squeeze the brake pads against the rotors.

4. How Expensive is it to Replace Rotors?

 $150 to $300 per axle for new rotors

5. How do I Know when my Rotors are Bad?

When it is screeching, squealing, grinding, or growling.

More FAQs

6. How do You Know if You Need New Rotors?

Your steering wheel vibrates.

7. Can You Drive with Bad Brake Rotors?

The maximum mileage you can run with bad rotors is 50 miles. 

8. How Long can I Drive with Bad Rotors?

30,000-70,000 miles 

9. What Happens if I Replace Brake Pads but not Rotors?

The new brake pads might not fit the old rotor perfectly

10. What do Warped Rotors feel Like?

You feel them through vibration in the pedals. 

Check your vehicle with a professional technician to determine the exact cause of the shaking while driving.

They’ll determine whether the problem is with the brake rotor or one of the other possibilities listed.

Then you can relax and enjoy your cruise.

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