Hey, Why Does My Car Shake When I Brake At High Speeds?

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Four common causes for a vehicle EVAP system leak and their related parts.
When the vehicle is going down the road, the centrifugal force of a rotating object helps keep that object in an upright and balanced motion. If, for any reason, something is out of round or is warped when you apply the brakes, that warped or out-of-round object is forced transferred through the rotating object causing the vehicles to start shaking. Noting the speed at which you are going can help determine where the damaged component is.

Is Your Car Shaking When You Brake At High Speeds?

It shakes when braking at high speeds because of worn brake components like rotors, wheel bearings, or worn steering and suspension parts. This can also involve bad wheel torque, unbalanced tires, tapered brake pads, a faulty constant velocity axle, or a damaged brake caliper.

A car shaking while braking at high speeds is alarming and dangerous. This shaking often indicates a problem that needs attention. Besides being irritating, it can also impair your car's handling and performance, creating hazardous driving conditions.

Addressing shaking issues immediately is crucial to avoid costly repairs and further damage. Taking your car for a vehicle health inspection can be a smart move. This action will help maintain your safety and the safety of others on the road. Don't wait; take action now.

Let's Get To The Bottom Of It!

  • Q: Is the vehicle shaking when braking and accelerating?

    The CV axle boot is essential to your car's drivetrain system. It helps keep the CV joint lubricated and protected, which connects the axle to the transmission. However, if the CV axle boot becomes torn, it causes CV grease to leak out and allow debris inside. This causes the CV joint to wear unevenly, making the axle lose shape. As a result, you may feel shaking when accelerating or braking.

  • Q: Do you hear a clunk when braking hard?

    The control arms are essential to your car's suspension system. They help keep the wheels and tires in a fixed position while still allowing them to move up and down as you drive. However, the tires won't stay still if the control arm bushings fail. This can cause a clunking noise when you tap the brakes because the control arm moves back and forth.

  • Q: Does the vehicle shake even if you brake lightly?

    Tires are an essential part of your car's wheels, responsible for keeping your car moving smoothly. They are round and have belts and cords made of rubber to maintain their roundness. However, if a tire gets damaged from road impact or normal wear and tear, the belts inside can slip or break. This can cause a bulge in the tire's tread and make it lose its round shape. Consequently, the car might shake when braking at slow speeds.

  • Q: Is the car pulling in one direction when braking?

    The brake caliper is essential to your car's braking system. It uses hydraulic pressure to push the brake pads against the rotor, creating enough friction to slow down and stop your vehicle. However, if the caliper slide pins get stuck, the caliper can only apply pressure to one side of the brake rotor. This creates excessive heat and warps the rotor, making your vehicle shake. Additionally, the vehicle may start pulling to one side while braking because the caliper favors one side, and side-to-side integral braking is impaired.

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Vehicle Health Inspection Proof

Explore the following typical inspection results that show a potential cause for the symptom and select the one you believe is similar to your vehicle's issue.

Improper wheel torque

The featured image shows the technician using a hand torque wrench to tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern.

A customer dropped off their vehicle and reported they recently rotated the tires on a road trip. However, they noticed the car shaking when applying the brakes on the highway, which only began after the tire rotation.

During the test drive, the technician confirmed a brake vibration that caused the steering wheel and seat to vibrate. They did a vehicle health inspection but couldn't find any issues related to the customer's concern. So, the technician removed the wheels to examine the rotors more closely.

Using a dial indicator, the technician measured the runout in the rotors and found they were less than 0.003 inches. The technician also checked the brake pads and found they were more than 7mm thick.

Runout refers to any variation in the rotor's thickness or lateral movement, which can cause the vehicle to shake or vibrate when the brakes are applied. A less than 0.003 inches rotor means it has minimal runout and is likely in good condition.

On the other hand, brake pads that are thicker than 7mm indicate that they still have a considerable amount of material left.

After putting the wheels back on the car, the technician hand-torqued the lug nuts in a star pattern before test-driving the vehicle again. This time, the braking vibration was gone, proving that the issue was caused by the wheels not being securely tightened.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Faulty control arm bushing

The proof image shows the lower control arm bushing that has lost hydraulic fluid and allowed the control arm to shift during braking, causing the vehicle to shake.

A customer brought their car because they felt a shaking sensation when applying the brakes and heard a clunk when tapping the brakes while reversing.

The technician took the car for a test drive and confirmed that there was a shaking sensation when applying the brakes, and they also heard a clunk when tapping the brakes while driving forward and backward.

Upon the vehicle health inspection, the technician found hydraulic fluid leaks in both sides' lower control arm bushings. This was causing the control arms to move back and forth, making a clunking sound when tapping the brakes. The technician also checked the brakes and found them in good condition.

The technician used a pry bar on the control arms to verify the lower control arm bushings were indeed the cause of the shaking when applying the brakes. They confirmed that the arms were moving back and forth, which would cause the vibration issue. The lower control arm bushings need to be replaced.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Seized caliper slider

The proof image is of the stuck caliper pin that caused the brake rotors to warp and the vehicle to shake when braking.

A customer dropped off their vehicle and mentioned the car was pulling to the right and shaking when braking. They were not sure if these two issues were related.

During the test drive, the technician confirmed that the vehicle did pull to the right when braking. However, after warming up the brakes, the technician also noticed that the car shook when braking and the issue came from the front of the vehicle.

Upon a vehicle health inspection, the technician found the left inboard brake pad was more worn than the outboard pad. They also observed hot spots on the front rotors, meaning they were getting too hot.

To diagnose the issue further, the technician checked the front rotors for runout and found warping signs beyond the manufacturer's specifications. Further investigation revealed that the slide pins on the left caliper were stuck and could not disengage.

To fix the issue, the technician recommends replacing the front calipers, the warped brake rotors, and the worn brake pads.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Tapered brake pads

The proof image shows severe tapering on a set of brake pads, which can happen when they wear unevenly. The tapering caused a high-speed braking shake in the customer's vehicle.

A customer reported a problem with their vehicle. The car vibrates when braking on the freeway. However, they didn't notice any shaking when driving slowly. When the technician took the car for a test drive, they felt the shaking when braking after a few stops.

The technician found that the front brake pads were tapered during the vehicle health inspection. However, the back brake pads were not tapered and still had 5mm of thickness left.

Tapered brake pads are worn unevenly, and one side of the brake pad is thicker than the other. This uneven wear can cause the vehicle to shake while braking.

To further investigate the issue, the technician used a dial indicator to check the runout of the front rotors. Runout refers to the measurement of the side-to-side movement of the rotor as it spins. The technician found the front rotors had 0.030 to 0.025 inches of runout, just below the minimum specifications. This runout can cause the vehicle to shake while braking at high speeds.

The technician determined that both the front brake pads and rotors needed to be replaced to fix the problem. This is because the uneven wear on the brake pads had caused excessive heat and wear on the rotors, which in turn caused the runout.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Damaged cv axle

The proof image shows a damaged axle resulting from a failed CV boot that caused the joint to wear out and led to the shaking and vibration of the vehicle.

A customer brought their car to the shop and reported feeling that the steering wheel shakes when accelerating quickly. They recently noticed it also happened when braking.

During the test drive, the technician felt the shaking and vibration from the car's right front side. They confirmed the same shaking was felt when braking, seemingly from the same area.

During a vehicle health inspection, the technician noticed the right front inner CV boot was torn and grease flung around. The CV boot is a protective cover surrounding the CV joint, an essential part of the vehicle's front-wheel drive system. If the boot is torn, dirt and debris invade, causing the joint to wear out faster, resulting in over-vibration.

The technician had an assistant start the car and put it into "drive" to verify if the worn CV joint was behind the shaking. While this happened, they observed the front axles on a lift and asked the assistant lightly apply the brakes while increasing the speed of the front axles. The technician observed that the right inner CV joint was worn, causing the vibration and shaking.

To fix the problem, the technician must replace the right front CV axle as an assembly. This involves removing the old, worn-out part and installing a new one to ensure the vehicle's front-wheel drive system functions correctly.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Deformed tire

The proof image provided showed the tire with the slipped belt and the bulging tread, confirming the technician's diagnosis. This can develop into serious issues for the vehicle's braking system.

A customer dropped off their vehicle and complained about a wobble in the front of their car. They said the vehicle shook violently when driving through the neighborhood and braking. They compared it to the "death wobbles" they had experienced in their truck when the steering stabilizer stopped working.

During the test drive, the technician noticed an out-of-round tire in the front of the vehicle. This means that the tire was not wholly circular, which can cause the car to wobble or shake when driving. It's a common problem for several reasons, such as hitting a pothole or curb.

Upon the vehicle health inspection, the technician found the right front tire had a slipping belt, and the tread bulged. This meant that the tire was damaged and needed to be replaced.

Additionally, the other tires were worn down to only 4/32 of rubber, so the technician recommended replacing all four tires. An alignment was also recommended to ensure the tires wear evenly and the car drives smoothly.

The technician explained that the problem was caused by a slipped belt in the tire, which meant that the layers of rubber inside the tire were no longer in their proper position. This caused the tire to be out of round, which resulted in the wobbling and shaking the customer was experiencing.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it

Typical Fixes to Address the Cause(s)

The following chapters bases themselves on experiences from our auto repair shop; we'll describe related problems' causes and fixes.

"Wheel retorquing" fixes "Improper wheel torque"

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Hey, Why Does My Car Shake When I Brake At High Speeds?
Sometimes a problem is more challenging to describe than it initially looked like. If you are not sure your problem is described by this article, please find below similar vehicle symptoms, which might describe better the issue you are experiencing.

Other things your auto repair shop might talk about:

Brake pedal. Brake fluid. Disc brakes. Replacing brake pads. Damaged axle shaft. Rear wheels. Brake rotor issues. Loose control arm. Drum brakes.