If you feel your steering wheel shake when braking, you most likely have warped 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. Either way, you should have your vehicle inspected to verify what is causing the shaking.
How did I overheat my brakes?
Typically the steering wheel shake while braking begins due to overheated brake rotors. Heat generated can’t disperse so the brake rotor will over heat and deform. The next time you apply your brake pedal, brake pads will squeeze the deformed brake rotor and send a vibration back up through the steering wheel. Some common items that cause warped brake rotors are.
- Braking down long steep hills.
- Braking from high speed off of the freeway
- Riding the brake pedal
- Brake jobs not performed properly (when calipers and moving components are not properly serviced this can cause brake pads to not slide back off of the rotor causing friction/heat)
- Thin/worn brake pads or rotors (the thinner pads and rotors heat up faster)
Here are some extreme examples of over heating brake rotors…
What do I do if I have warped my brake rotors?
At this point, there are two ways to fix the steering wheel shake. You can either replace the two front brake rotors or you can resurface the rotors. Replacement is straight forward but to resurface the rotors they will have to be a proper thickness and the deformity (runout) cannot be excessive. 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. At A+ Japanese Auto Repair Inc. we are in a unique area and see a lot of warped rotors due to the hills of San Carlos, Belmont, Woodside, Redwood City, and San Mateo. After a correction of the warped brake rotors and overheated brake pads are made the best preventative plan we have implemented with clients is education of how brakes work and how easy it is to overheat them. This helps clients make reasonable changes to driving style to prevent future warped or overheated brake components based on their new understanding of how braking components work. If you would like to dive deeper into the braking system visit the brake 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.