Why Does My Car Shake When I Brake? – How to Resolve

Driving on the highway to your holiday destination, and when you hit the brakes to slow down, your car starts shaking? If you need to know the reasons, this is the right article!

There are a couple of reasons that might cause this issue, and today, we'll talk about all of them in length so that all your doubts are cleared.

So, without further ado, let's answer your question, "Why does my car shake when I brake?"

The Probable Reasons

Why do People Brake Check

A few culprits over here could cause your car to shake. One that strikes most people is worn-out tires, which result in vibrations. But in this case, since the shaking is directly linked to braking, it points out that something is not right in the braking system.

A braking system is composed of several components that simultaneously work to decrease your speed, so the problem could be in the whole system or just one single part.

Rotors Failing and Warping

Assuming you are a car owner, we will also assume you know how your brakes function. If you feel the shaking mostly on your steering wheel and brake pedals, then there is a high chance that your brake rotors need some fixing.

When you push on the brakes, the brake pads press on your rotors, which are also known as brake discs, to slow your car down.

Over the lifespan of a car, brake discs will gradually be thinned out even with normal braking. This is because the friction between the pads and the rotors generates heat, and as the brake rotors become thinner and thinner, they can absorb less heat, and that is when the possibilities of damage shoot up.

Driving in a hilly area where you have to press the brake throughout the entire time causes overheating and warping of the rotors, ultimately leading to the shaking of your car.

If the rotors are out of balance, you might feel tremors as soon as you put your foot down on the brakes. Until and unless you have a lot of automobile experience, we highly suggest you get your brakes checked by a professional mechanic.

Worn out Brake Pads

Along with the rotors failing, worn-out brake pads might be the root of your problem over here. Just like brake discs, brake pads are worn out throughout their lifetime. The reason for wearing out is also similar; the friction causes the issue.

And the vibrations could be a sign for you to get your brake pads replaced, and if you happen to hear an annoying high pitch noise upon pressing down on the brake pedals, you should be certain that this is an indicator for you to get the pads replaced immediately.

Generally, brake pads are used until only about a quarter of it is left behind, so they last you a while.

Sticking Brake Calipers

A brake caliper is a component that presses the pads down onto the rotors to slow down your car when you push the brake pedal. Brake fluid flows along the lines creating hydraulic pressure, which maintains the contact between the pads and rotors.

If you feel the shaking only on your steering wheel, then it is possible that your calipers cannot push the pads against the brake discs and hence stick.

The Issues You Might Face

If the rotors and pads are the roots of the issue, then your brake would still be able to work properly. However, the vibration can result in a great deal of discomfort to the driver and make driving an extremely unpleasant experience.

We must also add that the shaking could affect the stability of your car, so it's better if you get your car checked as soon as you are face-to-face with this obstacle.

Another thing that needs to be mentioned is that if you keep on driving around with worn-out rotors, it will not help you in any way; it will just make things worse. For starters, your repair bill would take a hit on your wallet.

How to Repair Your Rotors or Brake Discs?

When you understand that your rotors have gone bad, it will eventually come down to two options: the first is completely replacing the rotor, and the second is to fix it.

You can use a loathe to smoothen out the flat side of the rotor, creating an even surface that would make contact against the pads less wobbly. However, this is only a temporary fix. You will ultimately have to replace your rotor if they are worn out.

You can also try tightening the wheel lugs with a torque wrench, ensuring that you apply an identical amount of tension on all the lug nuts. Tightening them too much will cause your rotors to warp again, so make sure you do not overdo it.

Watch - Does Your Car Shake When You Brake, Do This

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why does my car shake when other cars pass by at very high speeds?

A: This could be due to a phenomenon known as "tire harmonics." When other cars pass by at high speeds, the air pressure around your car can cause your tires to vibrate at certain frequencies. This vibration can cause your car to shake, especially when you are braking. To reduce this shaking, you should check the tire pressure and make sure it is properly inflated. You should also have your tires balanced and rotated regularly.

2. What should I do if my car shakes when I brake?

A: If your car is shaking when you brake, it could be due to worn-out brake pads or rotors. You should have a mechanic inspect your brakes to determine the cause of the problem. Depending on the severity of the issue, you may need to replace your brake pads or rotors. You should also check the wheel lugs to ensure they are properly tightened.

3. What are the signs of worn-out brake pads?

A: The most common sign of worn-out brake pads is a squealing or grinding noise when you press on the brakes. You may also notice that your car takes longer to stop than usual or that it pulls to one side when braking. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should have your brakes inspected as soon as possible.

4. How often should I replace my brake pads?

A: It is recommended that you replace your brake pads every 25,000 to 50,000 miles, depending on the type of vehicle and driving conditions. For example, if you drive in stop-and-go traffic or frequently carry heavy loads, you may need to replace your brake pads more often. You should also regularly inspect your brakes to ensure they are in good condition.

5. Why does my steering wheel shake when I brake at high speeds?

This could be due to warped rotors or unevenly worn brake pads. Warped rotors can cause your steering wheel to vibrate when you brake at high speeds, as the brakes cannot even make contact with the rotor. Unevenly worn brake pads can also cause this issue, as they cannot apply even pressure on the rotor.


After reading this article, we hope you understand the issue in your braking system and how you can resolve it.

As we have said before, consulting with an automobile technician would be the best option for you in this situation, as they can point out the smallest and most intricate details of the problem causing your car to shake.

We have presented to you the possible factors that could lead to this odd shaking, and we have also dropped a few suggestions on how to fix it. So now, you should go to a certified technician and properly lay out the problems you have been facing with your braking system.

We hope we have answered your question, 'Why does my car shake when I brake?'. However, if you are still confused, please drop your questions in the comments below.

John D. Archer

John D. Archer is a mechanical engineer and writer based on the area of automotive accessories at brakeshub.com, A resident expert and professional, John is passionate about all things automotive and loves to share his knowledge. He has good experience in all kind of automotive accessories. He has worked as a chief mechanical engineer in some reputed automotive garage firm.

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