Is Your Car Shaking When Driving? Here Are Some Reasons

If your car starts shaking or shuddering when you start driving or suddenly starts doing it while you are driving (e.g. at high speeds), then check this fix.

If you are similar to many individuals and spend a considerable amount of time inside your car, when something feels off, it can be adequate to make you go mad.

If your car vibrates while idling, braking, or accelerating, it signals something is wrong.

What causes a car to shake when driving

The most frequent reasons come from old or broken wheels, tires, or brakes. There’s also a possibility that something inside the car is causing the problem, which might be due to damaged spark plugs, cracked motor mounts, or a blocked filter.

Another possibility is that you have a bent axle.

Your optimal bet is to resolve any trembling issues before they worsen.

Thankfully, we will cover the five most common reasons a car might vibrate in this short guide. This will allow you to take the proper course of action should they show up.

Let’s get started right away!

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Why Is My Car Shaking? Here Are 5 Common Reasons

Your Tires Are Worn

car tires

The average driver racks up between 12,000 to 15,000 miles each year. If you are running with a typical set of all-season tires, you’ll likely have to replace them every 3-4 years to ensure they don’t become bald. 

Thankfully, most tires feature built-in wear bars, which are rubber strips that sit in between the main tread grooves. If your tread wears down to the point that it’s flush with these, it’s time to replace your tires.

But even if you drive less, you still have to worry about the tires becoming old and drying out. This is known as dry rot, which causes them to become brittle, lose color, and start to crack.

A few things that can lead to dry rot include:

  • Sitting for long periods without use
  • High/low temperatures
  • Excessive exposure to direct sunlight
  • Exposure to corrosive or abrasive materials

Worn tires, or those with cracking, can easily cause your car to shake while driving, in which case you should replace them right away. Otherwise, you are putting yourself and those around you in danger by continuing to drive on the tires.

The Brakes Need Servicing

car brakes

If you notice a vibration when braking, there’s a good chance there’s an issue in your braking system. Most notably, the rotors, which are circular discs attached to each wheel that spin with them. 

Fixed over the rotor is a brake caliper, which squeezes the brake pads against it, creating friction and slowing the rotation. Over time, the rotor can become bent or warped. When this happens, and the calipers squeeze against them, you may notice a vibration.

Thankfully, rotors last a while, usually between 30,000 to 70,000 miles. Replacing a rotor ranges from about $400 to as much as $600, depending on the make and model of your car. You may also be able to simply repair them, which runs for around $200.

Basically, any issue that involves your brakes should not be ignored. Warped rotors can not only reduce braking performance, but they can also make it hard to control your car in an emergency situation.

You May Have Engine Issues

car engine

There are several components under the hood of your car that can cause it to vibrate while idling or accelerating. 

The first is bad spark plugs, which ignite the air/fuel mixture inside each combustion chamber. If any of them are worn, it can interfere with them firing correctly. When an engine misfires, it can cause a shake with each cycle.

A shake doesn’t explicitly suggest faulty spark plugs since before air or fuel reaches them, they each pass through their own filter. If your air or fuel filter is clogged, the spark plugs won’t receive enough of either to function. This can also cause a misfire and, thus, a shake.

You might also have worn motor mounts. If you didn’t know, the engine is secured directly to the chassis of your car by (you guessed it) motor mounts. Thankfully, they usually last for between 5-7 years. Beyond this, they may weaken, leading to a noticeable vibration.

The good news is that spark plugs and fuel or air filters are cheap to replace. Motor mounts, on the other hand, range from about $200 to nearly $600.

Wheels Are Damaged Or Need Balancing

car wheels

If your vehicle shakes when driving, it might imply that your wheels need balancing. Balancing is the act of evenly spreading weight across the tire and wheel setup, guaranteeing proper rotation at faster velocities.

Even a small weight difference from one wheel to the next can cause your car to shake.

Thankfully, most shops only charge between $15 to $45 to balance your wheels. They place it on a machine that spins it at a high rate of speed and then measure the weight around the circumference. The tech will then attach weights around the wheel to ensure it is perfectly balanced.

Damage to your wheels can also cause your car to vibrate. This usually stems from running over an object or a pothole. Thankfully, unless the damage is severe, a shop should be able to restore it to its original shape.

A Bent Axle May Be At Fault

a bent car axle

If your car started shaking after an accident, or some other mishap like running over a large pothole or hitting a curb, you might have bent an axle. 

If you do not know already, an axle delivers power directly from the transmission to the wheel. It is basically a shaft connecting these two parts that rotate with the wheels. If you have a bent axle, you’ll usually notice the shaking intensifying as you accelerate. 

Repairing or replacing an axle can be costly, from as low as $170 to as much as $900. It all depends on the extent of the damage and whether a repair is even possible. The make and model of your car also influence the cost.

If the shake is minor, you should be ok driving for at least a little while. If it’s more than a shake, you might want to stop driving altogether until it’s fixed. Otherwise, you may wreak havoc on the rest of your suspension system, which can quickly become expensive.

Cars Don’t Shake For Fun

If your car is shaking or shuddering while driving, it signals there’s an issue. Ignoring it will certainly ensure it worsens, which typically translates to a higher shop bill.

When did you last change your tires, spark plugs, or filters?

Want to balance your wheels? Did you hit a big pothole lately?

If it’s been a while, then a shake indicates it’s time to give it some attention, so we recommend that you do just that.

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Joshua Barrett

Josh Barrett is a writer hailing from the great state of Alaska. While describing himself in the third person is not his forte, writing about any and all things automotive – is. After 13+ years hustling in the exciting world of car sales, he took off to travel the world with his dog Teemo.