When you spend a lot of time behind the wheel driving to work, school, or around town, you know what feels normal and what doesn’t. A shaky, vibrating steering wheel definitely doesn’t feel normal! If you notice your steering wheel shaking while driving or braking, it could be a sign that something is wrong with your vehicle. You don’t want to ignore these vibrations because they can lead to more serious, expensive problems down the road. So, what’s with these bad vibes?
6 Common Reasons your steering wheel shaking
1. Your Wheel Are Out Of Balance
Have you ever had a ceiling fan that’s out of balance and gets wobbly when turned on? Or maybe you’ve endured one of those top-loading washing machines that go nuts when all the jeans end up on one side. The same principle applies to your car’s wheels. If they are not perfectly balanced, they may start to shake and bounce as the wheel spins. Sometimes, unbalanced wheels are only noticeable at freeway speeds and even then, they can go away if you go a little faster or slower. It doesn’t worry what speed the vehicle is going. If you notice steering wheel or any other vibration in your vehicle, it should be checked by experts immediately.
2. Bad Wheel Bearing
In some vehicle designs, bearings secure the wheel hubs to the vehicle’s suspension, allowing the wheels to rotate properly. If your steering wheel wobbles when turning, your wheel bearings may be insufficiently lubricated, worn, or improperly adjusted. Have you recently been driving on rough roads or hitting potholes or other hazards? If so, you may have harm your wheel bearings along the way. To fix this problem, you may need to service your wheel bearings, adjust them, or (in the worst-case scenario) replace your damaged bearings.
3. Damaged or worn wheel bearings
If the tyres and wheels are fine, your front part should be the wheel bearing. Designed to secure the wheel hub to the vehicle’s suspension and allow the wheels to turn properly, these safety-critical components can cause steering wheel vibration if damaged or insufficiently lubricated. In this case, the steering wheel usually moves only when turning. However, to be sure, park the vehicle safely and stop the wheel with both hands on the tyre at the 12 and 6 o’clock positions. There should be minimal movement. If it moves more than it should, or you hear a grinding noise when turning, the wheel bearings are likely damaged. These will need to be replaced as soon as possible.
4. Broken Engine Mounts
Although unusual on your typical passenger car, you may find your car moving obnoxiously even while sitting with the engine running! The engine has many moving parts, but is designed to be balanced and mounted in the vehicle frame so that it runs smoothly. These special motor mounts are supposed to
absorb all engine vibrations – but if they break, the engine can shake the entire vehicle as it moves. If your car shakes dramatically on the stand, you may need to replace the engine mount.
5. Brake Pads
Is your steering wheel shaking when braking? Probably a problem with your brakes. Brake rotors/drums may be worn, misshapen and strained. If so, you’ll usually feel a vibration through the steering wheel and brake pedal when you press your foot down. Regardless, something is wrong with your braking system, so you should get a professional evaluation as soon as possible.
6. Tyres Flat Spotted
For a long time, anti-lock brakes have been a necessary tool in cars, so this is another rare reason for an unstable steering wheel. That’s because antilock brakes, when working properly, will prevent your tires from locking up and getting a flat spot. However, if the brake caliper is stuck while you drive and the wheel stops turning, or you have an older vehicle that locks the wheels during an emergency stop, the tire may have flat spots. As you might suspect, a flat spot on one or more of your tires will cause vibrations in your steering wheel and the rest of the car.