Why Does My Steering Wheel Shake When I Brake?

February 20th, 2015 by

When you depress your brake pedal the last thing you want to experience is a shaking steering wheel. Steering wheel shake can have several causes, but the causes are narrowed down if it only occurs when you are hitting the brakes.

Causes for Steering Wheel Shake

There are several reasons why your steering wheel may shake, but there is generally only one cause if the vibration is occurring when you apply the brakes, according to HowStuffWorks. The website states that the cause of the problem is worn rotors. However, Instructables.com states it might also be dry guide pins or worn brake pads. Here’s a look at all three potential causes for steering wheel shake when you brake:
Steering Wheel Shake

  • Worn Rotors When the driver applies the brakes, the brake pads clamp down on the rotors to stop the vehicle. “If the rotors are warped, have uneven wear, or have been improperly installed, the brake calipers will vibrate while the brakes are applied,” according to City Auto Clinic. The brake calipers fit over the rotors and house the brake pads. The vibration from the brake calipers can travel to the steering column through components that the calipers are bolted to. This is how the shaking occurs.
  • Worn Brake Pads According to HowStuffWorks, brake pads can be worn down from contact with worn rotors.
  • Dry Guide Pins The guide pins fit into the caliper housing. Guide pins experience a tremendous amount of heat due to the friction that occurs from the braking process, so they need to be properly lubricated.

Solutions for Steering Wheel Shake

According to EBC brakes, the rotors may need to be machined to align them to the vehicle. The website states that even with new rotors or brake pads the problem can persist if the rotors are not fit to the car or are on too tight. Rotors that are warped should not be machined, according to 2CarPros.com. They advise this because as the rotor is used and continually heated from the friction that is created from its contact with the brake pads, the rotor will eventually re-warp. If the caliper guide pins are dry they will need to be lubricated with caliper lubricant. Worn brake pads will potentially need to be replaced.
Call Fisher Auto in Boulder, Colo., at 303-245-6414 with your questions about steering wheel shake and to schedule an appointment to have your braking system inspected for causes of the shaking.