Why Does My Steering Wheel Shake?

Why does my steering wheel shake when I hit the brakes?

If you feel your steering wheel shake while you apply the brakes, you probably have warped or over heated, your front brake rotors. If you are not applying the brake pedal and the steering wheel still shakes, you may have another issue that should get checked out immediately. 

How did I overheat my front brakes?

The steering wheel shake while braking is caused by overheated brake rotors. If the heat you generate while braking can't be dispersed, you will over heat and deform the brake rotors. Below is a list of what causes the steering wheel to shake if you are braking:

  • Braking down long steep hills.
  • Braking from high speed off of the freeway
  • Resting your foot on the brake pedal
  • If your previous brake job was not performed properly (when calipers and moving components are not properly serviced or lubed)
  • Thin/worn brake pads or rotors (the thinner pads and rotors heat up faster)
  • Sticking calipers or sticking caliper slides
  • Aggressive stopping
  • An overloaded vehicle

How do fix the shaking steering wheel?

There are two ways to fix the steering wheel shake. You can either replace the two front brake rotors and brake pads or you can resurface the rotors and change the brake pads. You have to remember that the main thing causing the shaking wheel is the warped or slightly deformed brake rotors.

Replacing the front brake rotors with new brake pads is the preferred method to fix the wheel shake.

The second way to fix the brake shake is to resurface the front brake rotors. Resurfacing the front brake rotors requires you to cut off the top metal surface on both sides of the brake rotors until the metal is smooth. A properly trained mechanic can help you determine which brake repair option is best for your vehicle.

Here are a few tips to avoid overheating your brakes: (Note: These are only recommendations, Use your brakes whenever necessary.)

  • Avoid panic stops when possible.
  • When braking down hill, use a lower gear to help "engine brake" the vehicle
  • Plan your freeway exit to avoid a long application of the brake pedal.
  • Have your brake work performed at a reputable repair facility.  
  • Perform regular maintenance services.  As part of a regular service braking components will be inspected.

If you have any questions regarding a vibration, noise, or any concern have your vehicle inspected by a reputable repair shop.

A few more links to check out regarding brakes:

A+ Japanese Auto Repair Inc. in located in San Carlos, and we have a lot of hills. The neighboring cities of Belmont, Woodside, Redwood City, and San Mateo are also filled with hills.

Many of our clients will come in with a steering wheel shake when stepping on the brake pedal have had this problem due to the constant heating up of the brakes when coming down hills.

If you would like to learn more about the braking system visit the brake repair page on our website. If you have any questions please contact A+ Japanese Auto Repair Inc. today and we will be happy to assist you with any auto repair & service or braking concerns you may have.

If you have any further brake questions or would like some help with brake repair or service, please feel free to call us at 650-946-1856, text us at 650-750-8233, or make an appointment.


Disclaimer: This article is provided for general informational purposes only.  It is not intended as advice for your particular vehicle, and should not be relied upon for that purpose.  Please consult a qualified automotive maintenance professional to determine the maintenance and repair needs for your vehicle.

Categories: Car Maintenance
Tags: brakes
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