When you drive a car, it’s only normal to experience some light vibrations. You’ll feel them in your steering wheel as you hold it, or even a little bit in the foot pedals. However, shaking, especially when braking at high speeds, is never normal and signifies there’s a problem.
Your car will shake when braking at high speeds due to worn-out brake pads or a warped brake rotor. Besides that, worn-out suspensions and a bent rim can also cause your car to shake under the same conditions. These problems are serious and require immediate attention from a mechanic or automotive technician, as it undermines your vehicle’s safety.
Read through this guide to discover the reasons your car shakes when braking at high speeds. You’ll also learn why it happens and what you can do to fix the issue.
Let’s get started.
Why Does My Car Shake When Braking At High Speeds?
A car should never shake when applying the brakes, regardless of whether you’re going at low or high speeds.
However, if shaking occurs when braking at high speeds, you should pay attention to the components on the lower half of your car, i.e. the brake system, tires, and suspension.
Here’s a closer look at the components that can cause your car to vibrate or shake when braking at high speeds:
#1 Worn Out Brake Pads
The brake pads are crucial components of your car’s brake system. Stepping down on your brake pedal will push those brake pads against the wheel’s rotor. That will generate friction to slow the wheel down and eventually bring your car to a complete halt.
When the brake system is in excellent working condition, both the brake pads and rotors will be perfectly flat. That way, the brake pads can make full contact with the rotor and produce a consistent amount of braking power for as long as necessary.
The problem: The first reason your car shakes when braking at high speeds is the brake pads are worn out.
Remember: brake pads work by pressing up against the rotors turning at very high speeds. Unfortunately, doing so exposes the brake pads to plenty of wear, grinding away at their materials.
A worn-out brake pad can also have an uneven surface, causing it to apply inconsistent pressure against the brake rotor.
As a result, the wheels generate strong vibrations throughout the vehicle, especially at your brake pedal and steering wheel.
The solution: Thankfully, this problem has a straightforward answer. You can solve it by replacing worn-out brake pads with new ones.
New pads will have enough thickness in their material to generate consistent stopping power without any vibrations.
Read: Bad Brake Booster (Signs & Causes & Fixes)
#2 Warped Brake Rotors
Earlier in #1, you read about how brake pads work. To recap, they press against the brake rotors to generate friction and slow them down. Slowing the rotors will reduce the wheel’s overall speed and gradually bring your car to a halt.
Thick and flat brake pads are crucial, but they’re only half of the equation. The other half is the brake rotor which must also be perfectly flat at all times. When that’s the case, the brake system can slow your car down effectively without any noise or vibrations.
The problem: Another source of shaking when braking your car at high speeds is one or more warped brake rotors. In other words, the brake rotor’s surface is not as flat as it should be.
That warping typically happens due to excess wear. For instance, brake rotors that have been used for many years will gradually experience warping. Also, using worn-out brake pads for too long can damage the corresponding brake rotor, leading to the same warping.
Bottom line: warped brake rotors make inconsistent contact with brake pads, causing the shaking that you feel.
The solution: Warped brake rotors can be machined to be perfectly flat again. However, that’s a short-term solution that only delays the warping from happening again.
You’ll have to replace the affected rotors with new ones as a more long-term solution.
Read: Warped Brake Rotors (Signs & Causes & Fixes)
#3 Suspension Problems
Another part of your car that’s closely related to the wheels and brakes is the suspension system. In its simplest form, the suspensions are giant springs that keep your tires pushed firmly against the ground at all times, even when driving at high speeds.
As a result, the suspension system ensures the tires maintain their grip on the road at all times.
Simultaneously, a working suspension system absorbs vibrations to maximize the comfort of all occupants inside the cabin. That’s why suspensions are also known as shock absorbers.
The problem: Your car’s suspensions are also prone to wearing out after many years of use. When that happens, it’ll struggle to keep your wheels firmly pressed against the road at all times.
Plus, it loses its ability to absorb vibrations and prevent them from being felt in the driver’s seat, especially at high speeds.
Typically, the regular vibrations that happen while braking is barely noticeable, thanks to the suspensions. But when they’re worn out, you’ll feel strong shaking, particularly when braking at high speeds.
The solution: Firstly, get your car’s suspension system inspected by a mechanic or automotive technician. They can diagnose the problem and determine whether your suspensions are worn out.
If that’s the case, you’ll have to replace them with a new set as soon as possible. Driving with a worn-out suspension is dangerous and could lead to more expensive repairs.
Read: Resurfacing vs Replacing Brake Rotors
#4 Bent Rim
The rims on your car are rotational parts bolted onto the vehicle. They provide a solid base to wrap your tires around and maintain the correct air pressure for them.
Rims allow your car to roll forward, with or without the power generated by the engine. So, for a smooth ride, they must be perfectly round at all times.
The problem: Another reason why your car shakes when braking at high speeds is that your rims are slightly bent. Of course, severely bent rims will be obvious at any speed.
However, if they’re only slightly bent, you’ll barely notice them when driving and braking at high speeds.
Those slight bends in your rims typically happen because you’ve driven into too many potholes or hit too many curbs when taking corners.
The impact causes the rim’s solid structure to bend, preventing it from rolling smoothly as it should.
The solution: Bent rims are never good. Still, there’s a silver lining here. If you’ve only got minor bends in your rims, you can have them repaired.
That should bring you plenty of relief, as any severe damage to rims would normally require you to buy new ones.
Instead, you’ll have to take your rims to a professional who can knock or apply pressure to restore their original shape.
Read: Why Brake Pedal Sinks to the Floor?
Gentle vibrations are normal when driving, especially when braking at high speeds. However, shaking is never a good sign or one that you should ignore.
Shaking can be quite dangerous. When it happens hard enough, it can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Not only does that put you and your passengers at risk, but it also endangers other road users.
So, when you notice unusual shaking from your steering wheel or pedals while braking at high speeds, take your car for an inspection immediately.
Solving the problem early will save you plenty of money and headaches in the long run.