The latest vehicles come with excellent suspension, delivering a smooth drive even on bumpy roads. At the same time, a slight vibration is normal during driving. What if you notice the steering wheel shaking? The first thing that comes to mind is that you drove over a rough patch of road. But, what if the surface is smooth? In such a case, a mechanical issue is causing steering wheel vibration.
If a steering wheel shakes when braking at high speed, it can be extremely unsettling for the driver and potentially hazardous. Typically, unbalanced tires, damaged brake rotors, and worn suspension components cause steering wheel shaking. The best idea is to visit your mechanic and let him find out why the steering wheel shakes.
Today, we will provide an insight into eight common reasons why your car steering wheel vibrates.
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Reasons Why the Car Steering Wheel Shakes
Several factors can make a steering wheel shake when driving. To pinpoint the exact cause, you must determine when the shaking happens. For example, does it occur during slow, standard, or high-speed driving; while braking, turning, or speeding up; or a combination of these activities? Below are the eight most typical causes of steering wheel vibration.
1. Unbalanced Tires and Wheels
It is the most common cause. As the steering wheel directs the wheels, it makes perfect sense that unbalanced tires or wheels would have caused this problem.
Every tire differs somewhat in terms of its weight distribution. To counteract this, it is necessary to add weights to the wheel after fixing a new tire. When these weights change position or drop, the wheels get unbalanced.
A steering wheel shakes at high speeds even when road conditions are good because of unbalanced tires. If ignored, a poorly balanced tire can cause steering and suspension components to deteriorate more quickly than usual. As a result, you may experience reduced fuel economy, or the tires may suffer from a blowout while driving.
To find which tire is unbalanced, visually inspect all wheels. See if mislaid wheel weights, unequal tread wear, or twisted rims exist. You should consult a technician with access to a tire balancing machine if any wheels show signs of imbalance.
2. Wheel Out of Alignment
Vehicle suspension systems are designed to position your tires so that they evenly meet the road’s surface. An alignment problem can develop due to road turbulence, rough driving, and other driving hazards. Even minor alignment issues can cause vibrations or shaking in the steering wheel.
Aligned wheels will lower the risk of premature wearing out of tires, saving you a lot of money. If you feel alignment issues, visit a wheel alignment shop immediately.
3. Damaged Axle
If you have recently been involved in an accident and are experiencing vibrations, check your axles for damage or bends. The shakes will become more noticeable as the speed increases, but they will still be identifiable at slower speeds.
As with your wheels, axles require proper balance to function properly. Especially with older vehicles, it is critical to ensure that the axles are in good condition.
Most cars come with half-shaft axles since they are front-wheel drive. When the axle goes bad, and you turn, it is highly possible that you will hear a rhythmic ticking. The issue is typically noticeable before you feel a vehicle shake or a steering wheel vibration.
4. Suspension Issues
Suspension problems are another usual cause of shaky steering wheels. These issues often occur in vehicles that aren’t serviced regularly by authorized dealerships. As suspension problems develop slowly over time, you will likely notice them once they are serious enough to affect steering balance.
In addition, ball joints may begin to make strange, subtle noises due to bumping on the road. Different components in a suspension system are responsible for interconnecting the steering system with wheels and wheels with the vehicle. Consequently, any issues in them may contribute to unbalanced steering wheels or even total steering loss.
A multipoint inspection conducted by qualified personnel at the service center would prevent such problems from occurring. Take your car to an authorized dealer for suspension examination once every six months.
5. Brake Rotors Problem
We can see the brake rotors through the front wheels; they are shiny round discs.
Warped rotors may cause steering wheel vibrations when braking.
While regular brake maintenance is essential, even well-maintained brake systems occasionally develop rotor problems.
Hydraulic clamps secure the brake pads to the rotors at each wheel and prevent the vehicle from rolling. Emergency halts and other acts on congested main roads may cause high and low spots to form on the brake rotors. As a result, you may experience shaking in the steering wheel and brake pedal when you press the brake pads.
Adding new brake rotors will solve the problem. If you are unfamiliar with brake repair, bring your car to a professional mechanic.
6. Bad Wheel Bearings
While wheel bearings do not fail frequently, they can still cause your vehicle to shake and vibrate. If your vehicle often makes a U-turn and the right front tire bounces over the curb, it increases the possibility of wheel bearing failure.
The steering wheel will frequently shake when the wheel bearings fail, and you can feel the shaking throughout the vehicle.
7. Brake Calipers
Older cars are usually more susceptible to vibrations caused by a malfunctioning brake caliper. With sticky or stuck brake calipers, your brake pads remain on the rotors for an extended period when you apply the brake. When this happens, the pads will wear more quickly, resulting in vibrations and difficulty handling the vehicle. Take the following steps to avoid future problems related to brake calipers.
To prevent rust on your wheels and brakes, try thoroughly washing with a steering wheel cleaner and drive immediately afterward. As debris can accumulate on calipers, they can get stuck, so regular cleaning is essential to prevent this from happening. If you are planning on replacing your calipers, seek the advice of a mechanic.
8. Disk Distortion and Overheating
When brake discs are repeatedly applied hard, and for a prolonged period, they can overheat easily. Overheating discs tend to warp, resulting in steering wheel wobble and brake pedal movement.
Overheating of the brake disc is evident by dark blue spots on the disc. In the same way, low-quality brake pads can overheat and cause distortion when applied to the brake disc.
Use of a faulty brake disc or pads may result in brake fade. Overheating may result in a temporary or complete loss of braking power. If there is too much damage or distortion to the brake discs or pads, you should replace them immediately.
What would cause a steering wheel to shake?
The steering wheel shakes because your vehicle wheel is not balanced or you are using bad wheel bearings that cause friction. Another possibility for a shaky steering wheel could be the suspension problem. A damaged axle is also one of the major causes of a shaky steering wheel.
Is it safe to drive with a shaky steering wheel?
This is quite dangerous when driving since it might cause your wheels to lock up. As a result, the vehicle is out of your control and you may face an accident. If your steering wheel is shaking, your automobile is producing grinding noises, or you have a significant amount of movement in your steering, you should check your wheel bearings as quickly as possible.
How do you fix a steering wheel that shakes?
In order to fix the shaky steering wheel issue, first, you need to identify the problem that causes your steering wheel to shake. Most of the time the problem is solved by wheel alignment. If not then try the above fixes one by one.
We hope this article helps answer your question, why does my steering wheel shake at high speeds and several others? There are several reasons why your car’s steering wheel might be shaky. Mostly it happens due to unbalanced tires & wheels, wheel misalignment, warped brake rotors, suspension issues, sticking brake calipers, and so on.
Whenever you experience steering issues, we advise you to immediately take your car to the nearest workshop and have a mechanic take a look. The mechanic will be able to diagnose the real cause of the steering wheel vibration and resolve it, allowing you to drive safely.