Why Do My Brakes Vibrate When I Stop?

February 18th, 2015 by

Also known as rotor shimmying and brake pulsation, brake vibration is the shaking of your brake pedal as it is pressed. “This can vary from a slight shaking to a quite severe shuddering, depending on the severity of the condition,” according to EBC Brakes. Problems with your vehicle’s braking system can be rather alarming since it is such an important component of your vehicle. There are four main causes for why your brakes vibrate ranging from parts that need to be replaced to a wheel alignment.

Reasons your Brakes Vibrate

Brakes Vibrate

This is a rotor.

Matthew Wright of About Autos says your brakes may vibrate if you brake really hard. This is because vehicles typically have anti-lock brakes and to keep the brakes from seizing, the brake pedal will vibrate. There are four additional causes for why your brakes vibrate.

  • Brake Pads Sometimes brake pads can become soiled with oil and other substances, according to About Autos. When this happens the brake pedal can vibrate as the brake pads grip the rotor. Brake Works says further that the vibration can also happen if the pads are “warped, damaged, or excessively worn.” If this is the case the brake pads will need to be replaced.
  • Rotors Over time the rotors, also known as disc brakes, will go bad due to the wear they sustain from their contact with the brake pads. About Autos says the rotor will need to be replaced and that they should always be replaced in pairs.
  • Alignment Poor vehicle alignment can cause vibration, so you may need a wheel alignment. Dealerships, like Fisher Auto, and automotive repair shops typically offer wheel alignment checks.
  • Suspension Warn suspension parts can cause brake pedal vibration. This may include worn ball joints or tie rod ends, as well as a bad wheel bearing, steering rack, or upper/front struts.

According to the Brake Centers of America, if you are checking for issues, try spinning each wheel prior to putting the brake calipers back on. If the wheel doesn’t spin freely and is instead tight or loose in certain areas, your rotors are distorted. They advise to also take a look at the brake pads for wear patterns. If the pads are not wearing evenly, then the brake caliper may be too tight or not releasing fully. The vibration occurs when the brakes run hot and ultimately distort the rotor.
The Brake Centers of America also suggests replacing your rotors with aftermarket, top-of-the-line hardened steel or high-performance rotors. These rotors are if you have had to replace your rotors more than once. “In these cases vehicles are driven hard under severe conditions or under heavy commercial use causing rotors to run very hot,” the Brake Centers of America website states. “Original equipment [rotors] simply do not perform well under these extreme conditions.,” which is why they are continuously replaced.
In all, if your brakes vibrate you may need to replace the brake pads, rotors, part of the suspension, or you may need a wheel alignment. Call Fisher Auto in Boulder, Colo., at 303-245-6414 with your questions and to schedule a time to have your brakes and/or suspension inspected if your brakes vibrate. We offer free wheel alignment checks on all makes and models!