Steering Wheel Shakes While Driving: Common Causes and Fixes

If you notice that the steering wheel of the vehicle is shaking while you drive, it is a sign that there is something wrong with parts of the steering system or suspension. You will notice that the steering will shake more as the speed of the vehicle increases.

Steering wheel shaking can be caused by several factors, which could be parts of the steering like damaged tire rods. Also, issues with wheels and unbalanced wheel or alignment issues can significantly cause the wheel to shake.

When fixing an issue like this, you must find the exact cause of the problem. It could be difficult since there are numerous causes of shaking the steering wheel.

For a proper diagnosis, you may need professional help. Professionals have the tools to diagnose the issue promptly and properly. They can also further properly execute the right fix according to the cause of the issue.

Steering Wheel Shakes While Driving

Why is my Steering Wheel Shakes While Driving?

As indicate in the intro, numerous factors could cause the steering wheel to shake. The causes may range from issues with parts of the steering system to problems with the suspension and brake system.

Some of the causes discussed below may be the reason why your steering wheel shakes when braking slowly or braking at low speeds.

1. Tires out of balance

A vehicle with an unbalanced wheel will cause the car’s weight to be unequally distributed, causing the steering wheel to shake. As the vehicle increases in speed, the steering shaking becomes more obvious.

The unbalanced tires can also affect the suspension and axle, which leads to vibration in the suspension system. The suspension is connected to the steering wheel. So, anything that affects the suspension system will affect the condition of the steering wheel.

2. Warped brake rotors

A warped rotor has lost its smoothness or smooth surface. It is the common cause of steering wheel shaking when braking. When the brake pad rubs on the rotor, a rumbling is created in the brake pedal, which can easily be transferred to the steering wheel.

The vibration affects the steering wheel and can send vibrations through the vehicle’s body. If it remains unchecked, the vibration caused by the warped rotors causes further damage to parts of the braking system.

3. Inaccurate tire pressure

Overinflated tires can cause vibration in the front suspension, affecting the steering system.

When tires are inflated beyond the recommended tire PSI, they tend to have a lesser grip on the ground, which allows them to bounce more often and vibrate in response to the rough surface of the road. Once this happens, there will be a lot of vibrations in the suspension system.

As we know, the font suspension system is connected to the steering system. The vibration caused by the tires will easily be transferred to the steering wheel.

4. Misalignments

Several factors could cause a misaligned wheel to cause vibrations in the steering wheel. First, misalignment could cause uneven wear in the tires, which causes them to vibrate naturally. The vibration could be transferred to the steering wheel easily.

Also, the misaligned wheel is off in angle, which will cause the tires to have rough movement, causing vibrations in the suspension and steering wheel.

5. Worn tie-rod ends

The tie-rod is a metal rod that links both front wheels and allows the steering control of these two wheels. When the rod is in good condition, it will enable the wheels to respond smoothly at steering commands.

However, when the tie-rod is not in good condition, it could cause the steering wheel to shake. It is because as the tie-rod becomes older, it gets worn out and loose and becomes loose around the joint.

Since the tie-rod transfers force from the steering rack to the steering arm. The force transmitted will cause vibration in the tie-rod, which would be transferred to the steering wheel.

6. Bad wheel bearings

Wheel bearings are important for connecting the steering system and the axle. When the wheel bearing is faulty or there is increased friction in the part, it causes the bearing to vibrate, which affects the steering wheel. 

7. Worn steering stabilizer

The steering stabilizer is a small absorber found in the steering linkage. It will help stabilize the movement of the front tires from side to side. It will absorb shock from the axle.

When the steering stabilizer is faulty, the shock from the axle will not be absorbed, which will then cause vibrations in the steering wheel.  

Read Also: Main Reasons for Noise When Turning Steering Wheel While Stationary.

Is it safe to drive with a shaking steering wheel?

It is still possible to drive the car with a shaking steering wheel; however, we advise you to avoid doing so. A vehicle with a damaged steering wheel indicates something wrong with the components of the steering system and suspension.

Ignoring the shaking steering and further driving could cause more damage to the steering system, which could cause the steering system to fail. It could be dangerous, especially when going on a highway.

Once the steering system fails, especially when driving, the driver will lose complete control of the vehicle. In a situation like this, a collision is inevitable.

Also, if the shaking in the steering wheel is caused by the brakes or suspension system, if not checked, the brake and suspension system could fail, which would also be fatal.

How to fix a shaking steering wheel when driving

If you want to fix a shaking wheel, you need to find out the exact cause of the issue. As we have seen above, these are the common factors that could cause the steering to shake while driving.

A proper diagnosis should be done to determine the issue’s root cause. Once the cause is figured out, it will be much easier to fix the problem.

Below is how you could fix a shaking steering wheel.

Fix unbalanced wheel

The best way to fix an unbalanced wheel is to take the wheels to an expert to balance it for you. The wheel will be kept in a wheel-tire unit on a balancing machine. The wheel will spin, and the machine will make diagnoses, checking various factors that could point out that the wheel is unbalanced. Once the tire is unbalanced, the mechanic will repair the wheel adequately.

Fix warped rotors

When your vehicle has a warped rotor, there are two major fixes. You can either replace the rotors or machine them.

The rotors are thick, so they can be smoothed with them shrinking significantly. All that will be done is to put the rotor in a machine used later to smooth the rotor. If the rotor is not thick enough for machining, replace it.

Check and correct the tire pressure.

Every tire has a recommended pressure; going beyond or below the pressure could be a problem. Measure the tire pressure using the tire pressure gauge. You must deflate the tire if it is beyond the recommended tire pressure.

Fix misalignment

Like the unbalanced tire, a mechanic best repairs misalignment issues. They have the right tools to measure the level of misalignment properly. With this, they can properly correct the angle of the wheel.

Replace tie-rod

If the tie rod is worn out, you must replace it. It could be tricky to replace this part due to its location. The tie-rod is a part of your car’s suspension and steering system and can be found between the front wheels.

To reach the tie-rod, you might need some level of mechanical knowledge. Also, you will need advanced mechanical tools.

Replace the damaged steering stabilizer.

If the steering stabilizer is the cause of the shaking steering, then you need to replace it. Follow the steps below.

  • Raise the vehicle with a hydraulic lift or jack stand.
  • Go ahead and disconnect the vehicle’s battery.
  • Remove the lower belly pans.
  • Remove all the bolts on the frame.
  • Also, remove the bolt on the tie-rod end.
  • Using steel wool, clean the mounting brackets.
  • Go ahead to install the new stabilizer.

Final Words

Why does my steering wheel shake at low and high speeds? The reason is an issue in the steering and other connected systems like the suspension and brake systems. Shaking steering wheels should not be managed and must be urgently treated when noticed. The reason for this is that it could lead to the failure of the steering system and other important components of the wheels. If possible, ensure that a professional fixes the steering problem.

Akindayini Temiloluwa

I am passionate about everything automotive. Right from when I got my first toy car as a kid, I developed an interest in the inner workings of vehicles. As I grew up, my love for mechanical stuff became more substantial enough for me to pursue a career in it. My goal as an automotive content writer is to simplify the most challenging concepts for my readers, help them self-diagnose what may be wrong with their vehicles and offer real value for their time.

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