Steering wheel of a car

A shaken martini and a vibrating, massage chair after a hard day’s work are wonderful. But shaking and vibrating are often symptoms of an undiagnosed problem in a car. And they can have some serious repercussions. 

If your vehicle’s steering wheel shakes when braking, have a professional look at your car. The best-case scenario of driving an unsafe automobile is legal penalization. The worst case is, well, you know. 

These are the 3 most common problems when your steering wheel vibrates as you administer the brakes. You might have guessed, but the problem likely revolves around the tire’s stopping system. Check them out before you roll into a car repair shop.

1. Take a Break, Your Brake Pads Are Thin

When you apply the brakes, the car’s caliper increases the pressure on the brake pads. The pads’ job is to hinder the car’s rotors, which slowly brings the vehicle to a stop. 

Pads are exposed to the rough terrain of the road. Aside from the wear on them from the caliper, dirt and grime residue corrode the pads. If they’re too dirty, pads have a significant performance issue.

Brake pads that are too worn or too dirty can cause the steering wheel to shake. Calipers are built to be resilient, but the pads can’t feasibly last more than 70,000 miles. Get your brake pads inspected; a professional can tell you the level of their wear.

2. Damaged Rotors

Rotors shouldn’t be the first worry. It’s almost always the brake pads in a car that causes shuddering. However, warped or eroded rotors can be a culprit. 

A flag that it’s your rotors is if there’s a throbbing when you brake. It feels like an unfamiliar pulsation in the pedal and a wiggle in your steering wheel. This isn’t meant to be provocative, they’re signs your rotors are warped. 

The rotors absorb a lot of the energy as heat from the braking system. Clashing of metal at high frequency can cause some serious temperatures. This temperature is what causes the metal to bend out of alignment. 

The damage needs to be assessed by a technician by hand or with a specialized tool. Even slight variance in the original rotor’s design can cause performance issues. Ask for this to be done when you get your pads checked.

3. Dry Pins Cause Steering Wheel Shakes When Braking

Guide pins are mechanical pieces of the caliper. They guide the pads into place on the rotors. It’s where they get their name from.

Pins need to be squeaky clean and slippery. The lubrication lowers the friction between the two moving parts. When pins are damaged, their guidance function is flawed, which causes vibrating.

The other two tasks are able to be done at home (it isn’t advised, but they can be) to diagnose shuddering. However, if it’s not the brake pads or the rotors, take the vehicle to the shop.

Replacing and inspecting the caliper is a tricky procedure. It involves excessively hot grease and dismantling parts of the brake system.

Don’t Worry and Stop Shaking!

There are a few reasons your steering wheel shakes when braking. Most of them are related to the braking system. 

The likeliest reason is that your pads are worn out. Get ’em replaced.

It’s unlikely, but your rotors could be warped from high-temperatures. Measure them by hand or have a specialist do it.

If it’s your guide pins in the car, don’t inspect it at home!

When you’re done shaking, drive on over and check out the rest of the articles on cars.