Common Causes of 'Shaky' Brakes

Common Causes of 'Shaky' Brakes

16th Sep 2016

Does your car shake when you press the brake pedal? You don't have to be an gear hear to know that this isn't normal. Upon pressing the brake pedal, a car should maintain a straight course while gradually slowing down, depending on the force exerted on the pedal. But if your car shakes, it's usually indicative of some other underlying problem.

Dirty Brake Discs

There are several different possible reasons why a car shakes when braking, one of which is dirty discs. Automotive brakes consist of three basic components: the rotors, discs and pads. Over time, dirt and debris will accumulate on the discs, which can in turn create a "worn" spot. So when you press the brake pedal, it causes the car ti shake. Known as Disc Thickness Variation, this is an all-too-common problem, especially in older vehicles where the brakes haven't been serviced according to the manufacturer's recommendations. 

Warped Rotors

Another possible cause of shaking brakes is warped rotors. You can usually diagnose this problem if the steering wheel shakes when you brake. This vibration is typically loud and hard, with the driver feeling it through the pedal and steering wheel.

The good news is that warped rotors can often be resurfaced, meaning you can fix them without having to pay for new rotors. However, rotors can only be resurfaced if they are NOT worn down to the minimum thickness specification for your respective state.

Stuck Calipers

Although not as common as dirty brake discs and warped rotors, a third possible cause of this phenomenon is stuck calipers. If the brake calipers become stuck, you may feel a slight vibration when driving at highway speeds. And the faster you drive, the greater the vibration. Depending on the severity of this problem, you may smell an unusual odor, similar to that of a burning tire.

Get Your Brakes Checked!

Regardless of what's causing your shaky brakes, you should get them inspected ASAP to reduce the risk of an accident. If there's one component on your car that you don't want to fail, it's the brakes. Faulty brakes are responsible for thousands of accidents each year. Thankfully, brake inspections are relatively easy to perform, and having them serviced or replaced is relatively cheap. Check in your vehicle's owner manual for more information on when and how to replace the brake pads, rotors and discs.