Why Does My Car Shake When I’m Driving? (3 Possible Reasons)

A car that’s shaking (vibrating) when braking or moving is telling you something is wrong!

  • Why is my car shaking when I press on my brakes?
  • Is something about to break?
  • Where can I get my brakes checked?

These are all good questions?

A car that shakes (or shimmies) when being driven or when the brakes are applied normally means:

  • Your brake rotors are warped and need to be turned or replaced.
  • Your shocks or struts, and possibly control arm bushing are worn out and need to be replaced.
  • Your tires are out of balance (or one has separated).

Before you yell, Alexa, find auto care near me, finish reading this DIY tip…


Let’s break this topic into 3 parts:

  1. Brakes (disk and drum)
  2. Suspension (shock, struts and more)
  3. Tires and Wheels

First Let’s Discuss Brakes & Rotors

Brake rotors can get worn out from day to day application of the brakes.

When car brakes are applied, hydraulics press a metallic pad against the brake rotor to cause friction.

Phoenix Auto Repair Shop

During this process, extremely high temperatures are created that can cause the rotor to warp and wear out.

Also, as brake pads wear, they sometimes cause grooves in the rotor that are removed by a process called “Rotor Turning” or “Turning of Rotors,” for the DIY mechanic this can be done at most auto part stores.

When rotors are turned, material from the rotor is cut off the disk and a fresh smooth surface is left.

This is good if the rotor has never been turned, but if it’s already been turned then the rotor can become thin and easier to warp.

This often happens after breaks have been replaced, but the rotors were turned to save money.

At this point, new rotors are required to stop the shaking (or shimmy).

NEXT, Let’s Talk Worn Suspension Parts

Front and rear shock and struts are gas or oil charged to maintain a smooth, balanced, ride while your car is moving on uneven roads.

Along with these parts, there are hard rubber bushings on control arms and tie-rods that keep your steering in firm alignment.

Over time, all these suspension & steering parts can wear, and become loose.

When part gets worn, shaking can happen while driving or braking.

This may also cause tires to wear quicker if the problem has gone on too long and the wheel alignment has been affected.

Finally, Let’s Discuss Wheels and Tires

Wheels that have lost their balance weights can cause car shaking, too.

Normally the shaking will happen at a certain speed and then you can drive through it.

However, wheels and tire problems should be taken very seriously as they can cause high-speed accidents from the sudden loss of control from a blow-out or tire separation.


If you suspect one of these gotchas is your problem, get it checked fast… I also recommend reading Car Won’t Start Just Clicks (Dead Car Battery).

Video about unbalanced tires


DIY Tip:

Stop paying for tire air and buy a cheap electric tire pump that plugs into the 12v accessory outlet.

Do drive around with low tires, air them up with your own air pump.