Why Is My Steering Wheel Shaking?

Sep 30, 2022

Your steering wheel is shaking … don’t panic! While the tremors can certainly catch you off guard, it doesn’t necessarily mean bad news. This is why it’s important to get familiar with your regular vehicle – sometimes cars are pretty predictable. But if your car is sending you mixed signals, don’t hesitate to take it to your auto repair shop. Good steering is essential to staying safe on the road. 


Let’s look over some of the possible reasons why your steering wheel is shaking. Some issues are relatively common, especially in some models, but some are sure to leave you in a tight spot if left unchecked. 


5 Reasons Your Steering Wheel Is Shaking


Problem 1: Brake rotors

If the steering wheel is shaking when you hit the brakes, it’s probably time to replace your rotors. When brake rotors are new, they’re nice and smooth. As your brake pads press against them, the friction generates heat and over time, this can warp your brake rotors. Make sure to replace your brake pads regularly, too.


If your brake rotors are warped and bent, the brake pads pressing against the uneven surface will cause the steering wheel to shake. In this case, we can fix the shaky wheel with just a set of brake rotor replacements. Catch the problem early enough, and your technician may be able to smooth out your brake rotors. In the case of any bent metal though, it’s best to start fresh.


Problem 2: Tire alignment

If you’ve hit some bumps in the road and think one of your wheels is out of line, a tire alignment could get you on the right track. Your car’s suspension system is designed so the car has all four feet (we mean, wheels) on the ground. But over time, off-roading, minor collisions, bad parking, and potholes can all contribute to your tire alignment being off, which can cause your steering wheel to shake. 


The rule is that if you’ve got tire alignment problems, you’ve got tire problems. Naturally, vehicles with tire alignment issues will experience more wear and tear in some areas and not others, which can compromise your safety on the road. Ask for a tire alignment service. Or if you’re still unsure, bring your car in for a free alignment inspection.


Problem 3: Stuck brake caliper

If your steering wheel is shaking or pulling when you accelerate, you might be dealing with stuck or “seized” brake calipers. In contrast to warped brake rotors, which become apparent when you slow down, stuck brake calipers aren’t very common. 


Brake calipers hold your brake pads as you drive. But what is a stuck brake caliper? This happens when a brake caliper sticks to the rotor. Even when you’ve lifted your foot off the brake, the brake is on. Driving your car in this condition can deteriorate your engine, braking system, and tires.


What causes a brake caliper to stick? Common causes are worn hoses, a home brake installation, or mineral buildup. A sticking or seized brake caliper can be hard on your ride, so bring your vehicle to your local auto technician as soon as possible. (Since sticky calipers can be caused by a buildup of dirt and grime, some experts suggest a thorough wash and dry of the tires first, just in case.)


Problem 4: Suspension issues

If you’ve eliminated all other suspects and your steering wheel is still shaking, a damaged suspension could be the culprit. It’s helpful to understand your vehicle’s suspension as a network of systems connecting the body to the tires. Think shock absorbers, coils and springs, bushings, or joints. When one element gets out of line, the whole handling gets thrown off. 


These issues within the network can cause your steering wheel to shake. Although suspension repairs can get costly, a regular preventative maintenance routine can identify expensive problems before they arise.


Problem 5: Unbalanced tires

If you are experiencing steering wheel vibrations shortly after seasonal storms, or due to off-roading or road conditions, check your tire balance! Your vehicle’s tires are designed to rotate together, balancing each other out. Unbalanced tires can deteriorate your suspension and axle, resulting in uncomfortable vibrations and eventually, compromised road safety. 


But you don’t have to let it get that far! Balancing tires can be a routine service rather than a recurring emergency. A good rule of thumb is to have your tires balanced every 10,000 miles. 


If you find that your steering wheel is shaking, it’s probably due to a tire or brake issue. If you’re having trouble identifying your vehicle’s exact needs, don’t hesitate to call us! Our expert technicians are happy to answer your questions and get you back on the road. 

Are you ready to schedule your vehicle for service at We Fix It?

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