If you’ve owned your car for more than a couple of years, it becomes increasingly likely that at some point it’s going to develop a problem or two. One of the most irritating, and also most commonly experienced problems is excess vibration. The main issue with vibration is that it tends to creep up on you subtly over time, and then before you know it, your car is wobbling down the road like a jelly.
Although The Beach Boys may have sung about Good Vibrations, there’s nothing good about driving a vehicle that shakes and rattles whenever you switch on the ignition. So, if you’re experiencing this irritating problem, you’re probably wondering why it’s happening, and if there’s something that you can do about it that won’t cost you a fortune.
The trouble with vibrating vehicles is that, while the fix might be simple and cheap, it could equally end up being something considerably more expensive, and that’s why diagnosing the problem as soon as it begins is really important. Yes, it’s a hassle to look out for the specific signs and symptoms that might indicate the reason for the excess vibrating, but it isn’t going to get better on its own. What’s more, doing a little self-diagnosis really can end up saving you money, not to mention hassle, at a later time.
So, what could the primary reasons be for your shaking car?
Lack Of Fuel, Spark Or Air
If you can feel that your car is shuddering from its engine compartment, it could be because it’s not getting sufficient spark, fuel or air to run smoothly. If this is the cause of your shaking, you’ll notice the following symptoms:
- Jerking and shuddering when you press down the accelerator
- Staccato shaking within a particular speed range – it’ll feel a bit like you’re driving over a rumble strip
- Your car probably will start ok and drive fine for a bit but will eventually start shaking after a short while on the road
Any or all of these symptoms might indicate that the time could be right to change your spark plugs. If they turn out not to be the problem, your spark plug wires might need checking or maybe replacing. If they don’t turn out to be at fault, the third possibility is a clogged fuel filter or dirty air filter which is starving your engine of fuel or oxygen, so get them replaced.
Worn Out Parts
There are several vehicle components that cause shaking if they get worn out or damaged. For example, if your axle is bent in an accident or some other incident, you’ll find that your car vibrates afterwards and that wobbling will only increase in intensity as you drive faster.
Another possibility is a problem with the driveshaft. If it gets bent, shaking is often the result. CV (constant velocity) joints can also wear out, and if that happens, vibration can be caused. If you suspect this could be a problem, you can check the boots to see if they’re still intact, the clamps to see if they remain secure and to see if there are any signs of leaking lubricant.
If you’ve noticed that your car only shakes when you apply the brakes, then it’s pretty likely that a brake problem is on the cards. One possibility is that you may have warped brake rotors. These bend when subjected to wear and tear and prevent the brake pads and calipers from getting a proper grip to stop the car smoothly. Unless you know your way around a toolbox, you should probably visit a brakes specialist to find out the condition of your brake drums or rotors.
Wheel Hubs Or Bearings
When you can feel the car vibrating through its steering wheel, you might assume that you have an alignment problem, however in fact that isn’t always the case. Sometimes, wheels have excessive wobbliness at their hub and diagnosing why this is the case isn’t as easy as you might hope.
For example, it could be something as simple as improperly torqued lug nuts, or wheel bearings that need replacing because they’ve worn out, alternatively, it could be something a bit more complex like runout, which requires a new wheel, or worn out ball joints or tie rod ends. Wheels are one of the most common culprits when it comes to vibrating vehicles so it’s definitely an option worth checking out.
The absolute number one reason for vibrating cars has to be tire problems, and there are many reasons why your tires could be causing your shaking and wobbling every time you take to the motorway. Here are some of the most common reasons and the signs to look out for that’ll indicate which issue you’re facing.
- You need to balance your tires if your car only vibrates at particular speeds
- You need to replace your tires if your tires have a separated tread. Our tire size calculator can help you calculate the correct sizing for your new tires.
- You need to rotate your tires if they are wearing unevenly
- You need to replace your tires of your tires roll unevenly
Of course, sometimes, the tires themselves aren’t the problem – the real issue lies in the wheels that they are fitted around. If you’ve been driving over potholes, or bumping along over badly repaired roads, the damage that can be caused to your car’s wheels can result in a vibration problem.
While these five reasons aren’t the only possible reasons that your car could be shaking whenever you sit in the driving seat, they are the major causes to consider first. However, if you can’t be sure, or if you don’t feel confident in your ability to diagnose your own problem, you should always take your vehicle to a mechanic who can give you a professional opinion about the cause of the issue and expert advice about how to rectify the problem so you can get back out on the road for a nice smooth ride in no time.