You are driving along and notice that the steering wheel shakes as you drive. There are multiple reasons this can occur in your vehicle. The four main culprits being suspension, steering, brake or wheel related. Worn components in any of these system will cause a vibration or shake in your steering wheel under different driving conditions and they will be discussed further in this article.
How brakes cause steering wheel vibration
The most common cause for steering wheel shake tends to be brake system related. As you use your brakes they get hot and thermal shock from driving over a rain puddle, over tightened lug nut, or simply worn brake rotors can cause the metal to warp. When your rotors are warped and you depress the brake pedal at highway speeds your steering wheel will shake as the brake rotor surface is no longer smooth. This will cause your brake pad to skip over the rotor surface area when you brake. To remedy this you need to have your braking system inspected and remedied by having your brake rotors replaced.
How your rims can cause vibrations
The next most common cause of steering wheel shake is from an off balance rim. When a new tire is mounted on a wheel it needs to be balanced on a machine and have small weights glued or hammered on to the rim to keep the wheel from vibrating at speed. As the roads around the New York City Metro area’s terrible roads and hit potholes the weights can be knocked off. Also the rim itself can bend and crack throwing the wheel off balance. This will normally cause the steering wheel to shake when the car is above 40 miles per hour or faster. In this case the wheels and tires need to be inspected for damage. A simple re-balancing of the wheel might be all that is needed to resolve this issue.
Steering wheel shake caused by worn suspension components
The least common, but most problematic cause tends to be worn suspension and steering system components. These require an experienced mechanic to diagnose as there are so many components that can be at fault. Worn constant velocity joints can cause vibration and steering wheel shake particularly during acceleration. Worn wheel bearings can cause steering wheel shake while cruising depending on how close the are to catastrophic failure. Worn components in the steering are dangerous and will cause vibration along with inconsistent handling. In these circumstances immediate diagnosis and repair are necessary as the vibration you feel in the steering is not just an annoyance, but symptom of a serious failure that could leave you stranded.
When experiencing steering wheel shake and you aren’t sure of the cause, it is import to take your car in to a trusted mechanic. It could be something simple and easy or it could be the indication of major failure that could leave you stranded or cause an accident. If you are experiencing any of these issues we invite you to come get your car diagnose here, at Tolima’s Auto Center.