If you have ever been driving at high speed and felt your car begin to shake, you know how unsettling that experience can be. Trying to determine what is happening, why, and how to solve it suddenly become your highest priority. We've done the research to help you answer the question: why does my car shake when driving fast?
There can be several reasons that your car shakes at high speeds, but the most common include:
- Tire issues
- Problems with your engine
- Axle issues
- Damaged or worn parts
- Issues related to your wheels
- Brake caliper problems
- Alignment issues
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We invite you to keep reading to find out more about each of these causes and to find out what steps you need to take to address these issues. As always, our posts are for educational purposes only. If your car shakes, the most important thing to do is get it seen by a qualified mechanic.
Problems with your tires are among the most common causes of shaking when you are driving at high speeds. Tires are the main point of contact between your car and the road. When there are tire issues, the whole vehicle can be affected.
Tire rotation should be a part of your vehicle's regular maintenance. Rotating your tires helps to ensure that they wear evenly. When you drive for too long without having them rotated, your tires will wear out more quickly. This can lead to significant issues and force you to buy new tires sooner than you anticipate.
If your tread is significantly worn, you must replace your tires. Without the proper amount of tread, your tires won't grip the road well and will make you more susceptible to accidents in rain, snow, or ice. If one tire is more worn than others, it can cause vibration or shaking when driving at high speeds. If your tires are between six and ten years old, you should replace them even if they still have sufficient tread. They may be structurally compromised due to heat, sun exposure, and leads to vibration at high speeds.
Can Unbalanced Tires Cause Shaking At High Speeds?
Unbalanced tires are another contributor to a car shaking at high speeds. Even though your wheels and tires look perfectly round, they are not. As a result, weight is not evenly distributed, which leads to vibration in your vehicle once you exceed approximately 45 MPH.
Tire balancing requires special equipment and precision calibration to properly and evenly distribute weight. Your mechanic will have access to this equipment and use it to place small weights in the precise locations on each wheel and tire to ensure proper balance.
Additional Causes of Shaking
If you have recently had your tires rotated and balanced, purchased new tires, or are otherwise sure that tires are not the cause of the shaking, it is essential to be aware of the other potential factors that may cause this problem.
Engine problems can be a potential explanation. While this is a pretty broad explanation, engine problems include low transmission fluid, spark plug problems, or filter issues.
Low Transmission Fluid
Low transmission fluid can cause a vibration when you accelerate. The proper way to check transmission fluid is to allow the car to run for a little while to let the engine warm-up, place the vehicle in neutral, and then have someone check the level. This is the most accurate way to assess your transmission fluid level. You can add fluid yourself, but be sure to keep your eye on the level afterward to rule out a leak.
Old Spark Plugs
Old spark plugs could cause your shaking. If your car has more than 80,000 miles and has the original plugs, the odds are good that they are no longer supplying sufficient spark, causing your engine to shudder.
Clogged or Dirty Filters
Similarly, a clogged fuel filter or dirty air filter can limit your engine's effectiveness. A certified mechanic is best equipped to troubleshoot these types of issues.
Most cars have two axles: front and rear. Two wheels are at each end of these axles. If you have been in an accident, run over something, or had damage of some kind affect these axles, your car may vibrate at high speeds. Bent axles are a significant problem and safety issue. They require expert care, and most often, need replacing.
Damaged Or Worn Parts
Similar to bent or broken axles, damaged or worn parts can cause vibration. If your driveshaft is damaged, it will not be able to deliver the proper torque and can lead to shaking. CV joints, which aid the driveshaft in transferring power, can wear out over time and negatively impact the performance of your car. Worn out or damaged CV joints can cause shaking. A mechanic is the best person to investigate and solve these types of issues.
Problems with your wheels can cause vibration, too. If one of your wheels is not spinning correctly, it may result in vibration. A loose wheel can also lead to shaking. Loose wheels can occur due to broken, loose, or missing tie rods. If you notice shaking when driving, it could be related to a problem with your wheels. Schedule an appointment with your mechanic to have it more carefully analyzed.
Though it might seem counter-intuitive, shaking at high speeds may be caused by your brakes. Brake calipers squeeze the brake pads against your car's rotors and cause them to slow down. From time to time, calipers can become locked in the closed position. If this happens to you, it can cause shaking at high speeds. Because one or more of the calipers stick in the closed position, they create friction, which can lead to shaking at high rates. A brake specialist can figure out what is causing the calipers to lock and resolve the problem.
Will A Bad Alignment Cause Shaking?
Your car is a complex machine. It's incredible to consider the number of parts and systems that must work together to keep it functioning at its best. As with your own body, if one part or area is not working correctly, the rest of the car can suffer. One of the most transparent ways this is seen is with your car's alignment.
Though most people associate alignment with tires, this is not the case. An alignment is performed on your vehicle's suspension system. The suspension system determines the way that your tires meet the road. When your tires do not make flush contact with the road, several problems can occur. Vibration is one of those.
Bad alignment can cause your tires to wear more on the outside than the inside or vice versa. It can also put too much pressure on the outer edge or inner edge of the tires. While you may not notice this at low speeds, high speeds exacerbate the issue.
A certified mechanic should only perform an alignment. They have the tools to ensure that everything is in working order and can ensure that you and your family are safe on the road.
Is It Safe To Drive When Your Car Is Shaking?
Now that we have addressed some of the potential causes of shaking at high speeds, it should be clear that driving when your car is shaking is not safe. Ignoring the shaking or deciding you're going to press through it is not a wise decision. At best, it can cost you hundreds, if not thousands, in repairs. At worst, it can lead to an accident that can jeopardize your life, the life of someone in your family, or someone else's life.
If your car is shaking when driving fast, you must take it to a certified mechanic as soon as possible. He or she will have the tools and experience required to investigate, determine, and address the issue. The faster you have the problem examined, the more money you will save yourself and the greater peace of mind you will have.
As you can see, several factors can cause shaking at high speeds. A mechanic is the best resource in determining and resolving your issue(s). If you have other questions about issues related to your vehicle, please take a look at some of our other blogs to find out more about them and how you should handle them:
Remember: if you experience shaking or vibrating when driving at high speed, don't ignore it. Take your car to an auto repair shop as soon as possible to protect your wallet, yourself, your family, and others.