Steering Wheel Shakes While Driving: Common Causes and Fixes

Have you ever noticed the steering wheel of your vehicle shaking while on a ride? Well, there are a few reasons why the steering wheel shakes while driving. However, the primary culprit here is an unbalanced suspension or steering component.

It seems pretty helpful to know the causes of this problem and possible means of getting them fixed. With such action, you can enjoy a smooth and stress-free journey without the steering wheel jerking.

It is pretty standard for you to notice some car performance changes with constant use on the road. Nevertheless, you have to keep the vehicle running in good condition to fix these issues. 

With the case of a shaking steering wheel, it may seem pretty challenging for most folks, as it may take a while to find the root cause. You can look at the common causes of a shaky steering wheel explained in this piece to help you out.

What Causes Steering Wheel Shakes While Driving? 

When the car’s steering wheel starts to shake, it seems so problematic driving and may get worse while at high speed. The stressful and scary feeling that accompanies this problem may leave you shaken while on the road. 

The causes of a shaking steering wheel vary, and some of them may leave you pretty surprised. So, if you notice that the steering wheel shakes at 70 mph or before it reaches that speed, you can look at these underlying causes.

steering wheel shakes low speeds

Wheel Misalignment

When you start noticing that the steering wheel shakes when accelerating, it could be due to the incorrect alignment of the wheels. This issue seems like the most common cause of a shaky steering wheel. If this is the case, it would be pretty easy to diagnose the problem and fix it.

Again, if the car’s wheels are misaligned, you would start seeing uneven tire wear. The tread found within starts wearing faster than those found outside. While driving, the vehicle may begin swerving to the side even though the wheel remains centered and straight.

Can you picture this scenario? Do you think the tires of your car are wearing unevenly even with the shaking wheels? Then, it’s time for a wheel realignment, as this would put an end to the problem.

Such alignment may arise from constant rides across poorly maintained roads (potholes and bumps) or accidents. A quick fix would also ensure that other problems do not come up. It would also provide safe driving on the road.

Problems with the Axle

The vehicle’s steering wheel may jerk involuntarily from right to left, which is a red flag. In most cases, it could be a case of a worn-out driveshaft. If your car has been involved in an accident recently, it may lead to some problems with the axle

Such an issue can cause some vibrations that are likely to increase during acceleration. It would prove helpful for the car if you seek the assistance of a car expert. Thus, you should take the vehicle to an auto mechanic to fix this problem.

Faulty Brakes

The sound of this seems pretty dangerous, and it is something that car owners should fear. When the car’s brakes have issues, it makes driving very unsafe for both the driver and others on the road.

This issue could easily cause the steering wheel to vibrate as you would start feeling some vibrations whenever you try to apply the brake. If it is a case of the brake caliper getting stuck, you will notice that the steering wheel shakes at high speeds.

Nevertheless, here are some possible things you should consider when you find the steering wheel shaking when applying brakes.

Brake Pad Wear

When the brake pad starts wearing out; it can cause the steering wheel to vibrate. You may be thinking about the reason behind this occurrence and what relationship the brake has with the steering wheels. Well, the front braking system has some connection with the steering wheels.

Looking at the front braking system of your car, you would find the knuckle arm having a connection with the rack end. In turn, this part of the vehicle gets connected to the steering column and then the wheel.

Damaged Rotors

Another thing you should consider when the steering wheel is shaking while braking is the brake rotors. If the rotors appear worn or wrapped, they can cause the steering wheel to shake violently. In such a case, it would help if you resurface or replace the rotors to restore the car’s efficiency.

Stuck or Faulty Brake Calipers

Does this sound strange? The calipers are primarily present in older cars, and if yours appears faulty, they could cause some vibrations in the steering wheel. This problem may be why your steering wheel shakes at 60 mph, and you start perceiving a burning smell.

So, when you find your steering wheels shaking, it would be best to check the brakes and ensure they are in good condition. Remember, the brakes seem like the top priority, and checking them during your car check-ups would keep you far from danger.

Engine Issues

Engine problems, including a broken engine mount, can cause some vibrations in the steering wheel. The manifestation of this problem can also cause the entire car to shake. It could be spark plug problems, air induction, or issues with fuel delivery.

You may notice the engine jerks from within its compartment. Why do you need to act fast? Well, fixing this problem would restore the smooth running of the car and prevent further damages.

YouTube Video: Causes Of The Steering Wheel Shaking

How to Fix Steering Wheel Shakes While Driving? 

Without a doubt, the car runs “smoothly” when there are no problems with any of its parts. But, when the vibration in the steering wheel starts, you may start feeling uncomfortable while you drive. 

The issue becomes more challenging since many components could lead to this issue. So, without a good look at the common causes of the vibrations, the actual culprit for long. In essence, the car may even face further damages.

So, how do you fix the issue of a shaky steering wheel? Well, you can rely on your diagnosis, looking at the possible causes and fixing such “underlying issues.” You can look at the diagnosis and how to resolve such issues.

Tire/Wheel Balance Problems

By now, you should know that problems with the tires and wheel can make the steering wheel shake while driving at high speeds. These problems could also be why the car’s steering wheel shakes while driving at low speeds. With that said, you can take these inspection steps in fixing such:

  • Take a close look at the side of the tires, and look out for possible marks
  • You can conclude that the tire and wheels appear imbalanced if there are scuff marks on the sides of the vehicle’s tires.
  • Employ a spin balancer to detect possible variations in the wheel assembly and tire mass.

Once you notice any variation in the regular tire or wheel balance, you should take the car to an expert for proper fixing.

Wheel Bearing Problems

The wheel hub gets secured to the car’s suspension with the help of the wheel bearings. Nevertheless, the bearing may start developing some faults as it starts wearing out, causing the wheel hub and suspension connection to fall apart.

You can diagnose this issue by:

  • Lifting the front ends with the jack or hydraulic fluid
  • Then, check the wheel for any loose bearings
  • Replace the worn or loose bearings 

Suspension, Steering, and Brake Issues

The suspension system is pretty important, and if there are any loose parts, there would be some inconsistencies. The tire may seem imbalanced, and the shock absorbers would soon start wearing out. 

Thus, it would help fix this issue soon by checking the steering and suspension system for any loose parts. Kindly look through the tie rod ends, upper and lower ball joints, bushings, and idler arms. Get all worn-out parts replaced to stop such vibrations in the steering wheel.

Kindly check the struts, shocks, and springs, as they are also an essential component of the car’s suspension. Check for possible signs of bad shocks and struts, grease on the surface of these components, and damaged shock mounts. 

These damages could cause the steering wheels to shake as you drive. Furthermore, if the spring gets detached, it could cause such vibration. So, look out for such a problem and get it fixed as soon as possible.

Again, if you notice that the steering wheel shakes then goes away during the brake application, it could be due to wrapped rotors. It would help if you tried to replace the brake rotors to eliminate this problem. You can also check and fix issues with the brake pads and caliper sliders.

Note: it is recommendable to find a certified mechanic within your locality to look into the possible causes of a shaky steering wheel. The car expert would find the best solution and fix the problem in no time.

FAQs 

How safe is a shaking steering wheel?

You can drive a car with shaky steering wheels even though it seems pretty problematic. Nevertheless, this vibration that comes from the steering indicates that there is a severe problem with the car, which could turn out to be dangerous.

It could be due to some problems with the brakes or improper wheel alignment. In essence, taking the car to the car expert for a diagnosis would be the right thing to do. The faster you know the cause and fix the problem, the better. With that, you can rest assured that the car remains safe and would perform efficiently.

Can a bad alignment cause the steering wheel to shake?

An improper alignment of the car’s wheels can easily cause the steering wheels to shake while driving. Such an issue seems prevalent because the misaligned wheels cause the tires to wear unevenly, and the steering begins to pull from one direction to the other.

This wobbling may seem pretty uncomfortable, and as such, it would help if you get the wheels adequately aligned soon. You may also replace the worn tires to get rid of the problem entirely. The issue of the shaky steering wheels often results from the uneven wear of the front tires. Still, you can also get all four tires replaced.

Can a bad tie rod cause a vibration?

There is often this shaky vibration in the steering wheel that accompanies a bad tie rod. You may also hear some rattling or clunking noise, even while the steering wheel shakes when turning. The issue becomes more pronounced when you start facing some inabilities to steer, and you feel the front end appearing misaligned.

It would help if you considered a replacement for the damaged tie rod to help fix this issue and prevent further damages that may occur. A quick fix would also prevent excessive tire wear and provide you more control as you steer.

Can transmission cause “shaking?”

When you notice that the automatic transmission shifting hard during a shift change could mean that the system has low transmission fluid. Similarly, worn clutches of faulty gear synchros could cause some issues with a manual transmission.

Thus, you may notice some vibration as the car drive down the bumpy road. With time, the vehicle’s efficiency decreases. Hence, the need to remedy this issue and restore the proper functioning of the car. You may fix it yourself or seek the assistance of an auto mechanic.

Final Words

Do you find the vehicle’s steering wheel shakes while driving? This problem results from various underlying issues and may seem challenging for some folks. Based on the severity of this problem, you may soon start losing complete control of the steering wheel as you drive.

A close look at the time and pattern of this vibration in the steering wheel would help you know the cause. Whether you notice that the steering wheel shakes at low speeds or during acceleration, it would be best if you fix the underlying causes soon. You can read through this piece, as it holds possible causes and fixes of a shaky steering wheel.

Tito

Hi There, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I have been working as a mechanic for over fifteen years. I worked for a long time at Global Rebound Automotive companies (Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others ) as a Mechanic and Mechanics Supervisor.

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