There are quite a number of issues that can cause your steering wheel to shake when driving. If it happens immediately after you begin to drive, wheel bearings or damaged suspension components are often the source. If it happens at higher speeds, it’s typically a tyre or wheel balance issue. But there are other causes responsible. We will look at common issues and proposed fixes to this problem.
The steering wheel is used to direct the wheels, so it makes sense for tyre problems to come through the wheel. The most obvious culprits are out of balance tyres. You won’t often get any shakes at lower speeds, but they will start becoming more noticeable the faster you drive. Take your tyres in for inspection to check for flat spots especially for cars that haven’t been driven recently as this issue usually results in uneven tyre wear. Make sure all four tyres are properly inflated. A deflated tyre can send shakes through the steering wheel too. Check the tyres for wears, rotate the tyres to even out the tyre wear. If the tyre tread is bad enough or tyre rotation isn’t an option, you’re going to need new tyres. Lastly, balance the tyres for stability when rotating on the road.
Next possible culprit are the wheels. They are the centerpiece of all tyres. Start by checking the wheel bearings, these can wear out over time. Replacing them should solve the issue of steering wheel wobble. If the steering wheel shakes only when making a turn and never while driving straight, it’s likely the tie-rod ends. Ball-joints produce opposite results when bad. They will only produce shaking while driving straight, never while turning.
If your car has been involved in an accident recently and you just started noticing vibrations, start looking at axle issues as it’s very likely that one got bent or damaged. The shakes will increase as the speed rises, but they will still be present even at lower speeds. A bad driveshaft may result in random jerkiness of the steering wheel. The steering wheel will jerk left or right on its own. This is an immediate red flag. Take the car to a mechanic, if possible tow it there and get it fixed immediately.
A broken engine mount can also cause some vibrating of the steering wheel, especially when accelerating. Although it may not make sense at first, but stopping to think about it gives great insight. Engine problems manifested through shaking can be felt throughout the entire car, but it’s usually the steering wheel which will give the first indication before that happens. Problems with air induction, fuel delivery or spark-related issues can disrupt the car from running smoothly, resulting in a distinct vibration from the engine compartment. This symptom is not that common, but it can happen, so be wary. To solve this problem, start by checking the engine mount for broken or damage joints and replacing them. Check the engine’s ignition systems and fix any obvious problems.
Normally if there is a brake issue, you will only feel steering wheel vibration while braking. However, a stuck brake caliper will cause a noticeable steering wheel shake at high speeds. Common causes of braking shakes are:
Brake Disc or Rotors Violent shaking through the steering wheel when braking indicates that the discs are probably warped or worn out. If resurfacing the disc doesn’t work or there’s not enough material left, replacing with a new brake disc is necessary.
Brake Pads The front brake system is connected to the knuckle arm, the knuckle arm is connected with steering rack end, which is connected to the steering column, and then finally the steering wheel. If it’s confirmed that the disc is still in good condition, the possible cause of steering wheel shakes when braking often comes from the brake pads themselves resulting from uneven brake pad wear or from misalignment in the caliper.
Brake Calipers Faulty or stuck brake caliper can also be responsible for some vibrations, but it’s usually only present in older cars. In this scenario, the steering wheel will only start vibrating at certain speed followed by a burning smell. It’s best to stop the car and avoid driving it at this point until you get the issue fixed to prevent further damages.
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