If your car shakes while you drive, it’s not because it caught a chill. Car shake – a wobbling sensation that can happen for several reasons, is a common problem. At best it’s a minor nuisance that makes for a noisy ride. However, car shake is your car’s way of saying something needs servicing. Left ignored, car shake can turn into steep repair bills or an unsafe vehicle. Let’s examine a few common causes of car shake, and what you can do to fix it.
Tires and Wheels
It makes sense to examine them if you’re experiencing a shaky ride. In order to function properly, a tire needs to be smooth and properly inflated. As you drive, your tires wear down. The friction from the road essentially burns away a small bit of the tire every time the car is used. Over time, and due to both driving habits and irregularities in the road, the tires may wear unevenly. In order to maintain the most uniform wear possible, many people have their tires rotated so that each isn’t constantly at the same position. Having your tires rotated in accordance with manufacturer recommendations will help reduce the chance of car shake.
Improperly or unevenly inflated tires will also cause car shake. If under-inflated, a tire will not only wear faster, but it will produce more noise and vibration. Always ensure your tires are inflated to manufacturer specification (often listed on the inside of the driver-side door jamb, or on the tire itself) to reduce road noise and prolong tire life.
When tires are mounted to the wheels, a sophisticated device is used to ensure the tire is properly balanced. Picture balancing a frisbee on the tip of a finger. As it leans to one side, imagine placing a weight opposed to the leaning side. This is essentially what wheel balancing is – ensuring even weight distribution over the entire radius and placing an adhesive-backed lead weight on the wheel where needed. Properly balanced wheels and tires are critical to a smooth ride and should be examined if you notice any type of car shake. If you drive in snow, it may occasionally become impacted in a wheel, which throws off the balance. This can cause intense vibrating that increases with speed. If you experience this, check your wheels and be sure to remove any snow that may have become packed into them.
For brakes to function properly, they must be smooth and in good condition. As brakes wear, they’re engineered to create a scraping or squealing sound to warn the driver that they’re due for a replacement. Two of the most common causes of brake-related car shake are out-of-round rotors, and stuck calipers.
If a rotor is “out of round”, it is essentially wobbling side to side. This will guarantee car shake and can often be felt right through the pedal. The good news is that this is an inexpensive repair and is easy to diagnose.
A stuck caliper is another common cause of car shake. If your caliper is sticking, it means it’s pinching the brake rotor even when you haven’t activated the brakes. This will cause an intense shuddering or wobbling sensation that becomes more pronounced when braking at higher speeds. Sometimes it will be accompanied by a distinct burning odor – that’s the brake pad smoldering away from the heat of constant friction. A brake pad that is wearing faster than the others is a sure sign of a stuck caliper. If caught early, it’s an easy fix. If neglected, the intense heat buildup will eventually ruin the pads, caliper, and the rotor. This will result in a costly repair, and degraded braking performance. As always, if you suspect a fault in the braking system, it’s especially important that you bring your vehicle to a qualified technician as soon as possible.
A properly aligned steering system will track straight. If you notice your car pulling to one side or need to hold the steering wheel at an angle to go in a straight line, there’s a good chance your alignment is off. Clipping a curb or sinking a wheel in a deep pot hole can easily result in a misaligned car. Over time, various road surfaces can throw off the alignment. Checking a car’s alignment is a part of routine maintenance. Fortunately, it’s a cheap, easy fix. But neglected alignment will eventually damage sensitive steering components, and wear tires unevenly resulting in costly repairs. Vehicles that are out of alignment more than a couple of degrees will also produce increased road noise, and an obvious shaking sensation. This generally is worse at highway speeds.
Bent Driveshafts and Beyond
The causes of car shake are myriad. Although less common, bent driveshafts will cause a shaking sensation in your car. Worn U-joints are a typical cause of bent driveshafts. Generally, when a driveshaft bends it’s not all at once. It happens gradually as other components wear or are left neglected.
Faulty power steering systems will also cause car shake. This is generally easier to diagnose – to some degree – because you don’t need to be moving to replicate the problem. If you experience shaking when turning, the same sensation will likely be present whether you’re moving or not. Turn your car on and while parked, turn the wheel side-to-side. If the shaking is present, there’s a good chance the power steering system is to blame.
Today’s cars are pieces of carefully crafted machinery. They rely on many systems and parts to ensure proper function. Something as small as a worn spark plug could result in perceived car shake. The expert staff at Good Care Auto excels at diagnosing and repairing car shake – no matter the cause. Take advantage of their clean, cutting-edge service bays and trained technicians who are standing by to assist you. Don’t get shaken up, call Good Care Auto today at (734) 285-1188 and let Good Care Auto take the wobble out of your ride!