The most common reason why a car shakes when you brake is warped or worn brake rotors. Other possible reasons include unbalanced tires, worn brake pads, faulty brake calipers, and issues with the suspension components. Damaged axles can also lead to a shaky ride when braking.
In this article, we're going to cover these reasons in depth. We'll also list other possible causes for your car shaking when you brake. More importantly, we'll help you figure out which is the most likely culprit in your case.
Your car's brakes are absolutely crucial to your safety on the road. If you notice anything unusual, such as your car shaking when you brake, a squealing noise, or if your brakes just don't feel right, don't ignore these signs. Reach out to a trusted mechanic right away.
Car Shakes When I Brake - What Could Be Wrong?
Let's take a closer look at the common reasons for a car to shake when you hit the brake pedal and begin decelerating.
Bad Brake Rotors
Does your wheel shake at the same time your brake pedal does? Bad brake discs or rotors are the main suspects.
A car shaking during braking is often due to warped brake rotors. These vital components can deform from extreme heat caused by overuse.
When you brake, the pads press against these deformed rotors, causing noticeable vibrations. You should get your brake rotors inspected ASAP and possibly replaced.
In addition, warped brake rotors can also cause damage to your suspension and even your tires. If your brakes and tires are not in excellent condition, then you need to get them checked out immediately.
Worn Brake Pads
If your car's brake pads are worn, it can cause a shaking sensation when decelerating. If the brake pads aren't working correctly, this will prevent your vehicle from stopping quickly and efficiently, making it shake while braking at slow speeds.
In addition to causing a shaking sensation when braking, wearing out your brake pads can cause damage to other parts of your vehicle because when they are in working order, then your car's brakes work correctly.
Were you traveling on the highway at a high speed, trying to brake, and that was when you felt the car shake? In this case, it's likely to be unbalanced tires.
One of the most common problems that can cause a car to shake when slowing down is unbalanced tires. An unbalanced tire will lead to uneven tread wear, premature aging, and extra friction from the wheel.
Tire imbalance is often most noticeable at higher speeds, typically around 50-60 mph, and worsens as speed increases. This is because the imbalance creates a kind of vibration or wobble in the tire, and the faster the tire spins, the more intense this vibration becomes.
So if your car shakes at high speeds but not at low speeds, an unbalanced tire is a likely culprit. However, this shaking might not only occur when braking—it may also persist while cruising at high speeds.
It's worth mentioning that while tire imbalance often causes shaking or vibration that can be felt through the steering wheel, other issues like wheel alignment or suspension problems can also cause similar symptoms.
For a more in-depth look at this, check out our guide: Why are my balanced tires still vibrating?
With normal wear and tear over time, your tires can become worn and affect your car's ability to drive smoothly. In addition, if one of your tires is worn more than the others, it could cause an imbalance, making your car shake when you are slowing down.
This is because not all four wheels are turning at the same speed; usually, one of your tires is not contacting the ground and the others. Worn-out tires can also cause an increase in noise and vibration and reduce fuel economy and handling abilities.
A specific form of tire wear-and-tear is called "cupped tires". And it can certainly cause your car to shake and vibrate. Read more about cupped tires here.
Worn Brake Shoes
Do you hear a squealing noise when braking? It could be time to replace your brake shoes.
Brake shoes are a component found in drum brake systems, which are most commonly used on the rear wheels of many cars (although many modern vehicles use disc brakes on all four wheels). Disc brakes use brake pads, whereas drum brakes use brake shoes.
When brake shoes wear down due to normal use, the friction material becomes thin, reducing the effectiveness of the brakes and sometimes causing noises like squeals or grinds.
Many brake shoes have a small metal device called a wear indicator or wear bar. Once the brake lining wears down to a certain point, this wear bar starts to contact the drum during braking, producing a squealing noise to alert the driver that the brakes need service.
So, if you hear a squeal when braking, it might be because your brake shoes (if your car has drum brakes) or brake pads (if your car has disc brakes) are worn and need to be replaced.
Less common reasons for a car to shake while braking
Now that we've covered the main suspects, let's look at some of the less common reasons that could make a car shake while braking.
Damaged rims are often overlooked, but they can be a factor in your car shaking when you are slowing down. A damaged rim can affect how the tire sits on the wheel, making your car shake when you are decelerating.
If your rims are bent or out of line, then this could be causing damage to the tires and making them unevenly worn. Also, this means that if one side of the tire is touching the ground, then one side of your wheel will be in contact with it while the other isn't, and this could lead to a shaking sensation when you are decelerating.
Bad CV Joints
Bad CV joints can cause a car to shake when slowing down because they do not work correctly. CV joints, or Constant Velocity joints, are crucial to a car's drive train. They connect the transmission to the wheel, and your car can't move without them.
If one of your CV joints isn't working or is damaged, then it could be causing damage to your tires, which will cause them to shake when you are decelerating.
Worn Wheel Bearings
Wheel bearings allow the wheels to turn smoothly, and when they are worn down, the wheel will shake when you are slowing down.
Not only can wheel bearings cause a car to shake when you hit the brake, but they can also increase noise, vibration, and rattling while driving.
If your car's suspension is damaged, it can cause a car to shake when you are slowing down. This is because the suspension connects your vehicle to its wheels. A bad suspension means you cannot drive smoothly.
A worn-out suspension can cause uneven tire wear and damage other components on your vehicle, so if you have bad suspension or worn springs, get them replaced immediately.
Worn Tie Rod End Joints
This car issue is a common cause of shaking when decelerating and can be severe. A worn tie rod end joint is the piece that connects your steering wheel to your vehicle's wheels, so if they become damaged or worn down, then it can cause uneven tire wear as well as a shaking sensation when braking.
In addition to causing a shaking sensation when you are decelerating, this type of car problem can lead to the steering wheel not performing correctly and causing damage to other parts of your vehicle.
Bad Axle Joints
Bad axle joints can make your car shake when braking because the axles connect the wheels to your vehicle. Without them, nothing connects your tires to your car, which will make it vibrate while driving on smooth roads.
When this part is damaged or worn out, it can cause damage to other parts of your vehicle and uneven tire wear because the axle joints are meant to make your vehicle work smoothly without causing damage to other components.
In addition, a bad axle joint can cause a rattling sensation while you are driving and even terrible noise that is hard for you to pinpoint where it's coming from.
Worn Engine Mounts
A bad engine mount can cause a car to shake when braking because the engine connects to the rest of your vehicle using mounts. If this part isn't working correctly, it will affect your vehicle's stability and even cause damage to other parts of your car.
These types of car problems can also increase noise vibrations and rattling while you are driving.
What is death wobble?
Death wobble is a condition that occurs when your vehicle's front end begins to shake violently while you are driving.
When this happens, your steering wheel shakes violently and cannot center itself because your vehicle's suspension can no longer hold up the weight of your vehicle. In addition, this will cause your steering wheel to shake while driving because the tie rod ends have worn out.
Death wobble is dangerous because it can lead to loss of control over your vehicle, damage other components of your car, and even result in an accident if you cannot regain control.
How do you stop engine vibration?
If your car is shaking due to engine problems, the only way to stop it is by fixing the part causing it. However, the hard part is pinpointing the culprit.
Start by checking that your tires have even tread and are at the proper inflation PSI. In addition, check your vehicle history on the last time you had your tires balanced and rotated.
Also, check your tire rotors and brake pads for wear. Remember: if you aren't sure what is wrong, go to a trusted mechanic for an inspection.
Can low oil make your car vibrate?
It is possible that low oil levels can make your car vibrate. This is because your car's engine needs oil to function properly.
If there isn't enough oil, then the pistons will not be lubricated, and this will cause friction between the metal parts, which can make them shake, rattle, or vibrate when you are driving.
When you notice any of these problems happening to your car, then you must bring it in for an inspection as soon as possible. Replacing the bad parts will keep your vehicle running smoothly and help extend its life.
Remember, many of the issues we discussed can make your vehicle unsafe to drive in. The bottom line is: If your car shakes while you hit the brakes, get it services as soon as possible.
If you like this article, then you should check out our others:
Need to save this? Here's a pin you can use -