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Reasons Why Steering Wheel Shakes When Braking

Omkar Phatak
Are you experiencing a condition where your car steering wheel shakes excessively while braking or accelerating? Then this story will help you in diagnosing the problem source.
Cars are complex machines and many complicated ailments keep afflicting them, from time to time. One such curious condition is shaking of the steering wheel when braking. Of late, this problem seems to have become rampant in many automobiles.
The objective of this story is to underline some of the causes that may lead to this condition, where the power steering wheel shakes at high speed. Diagnosis can be a tricky business and isolating one cause is difficult.

About Steering Wheel Mechanism

You need to understand the steering mechanism to be able to diagnose this problem. The steering wheel is connected to the suspension and steering mechanism via the main shaft. The torque conveyed by the drive shaft is transmitted to the suspension and steering mechanism, via the gear mechanism.
Whenever, there are problems associated with the steering and suspension because of worn-out parts, the effect can be felt at the steering wheel, as the whole mechanism is connected.
At times, the steering wheel shakes at high speeds and while braking, because of some problems in the steering, as well as the braking assembly. It has been observed that shaking of the wheel is more likely to occur in front wheel drive cars, though rear wheel drive cars also have it. Let us look at the prime causes.

Causes of Steering Wheel Vibration During Braking

It doesn't take an Einstein to understand that since the vibration is initiated by braking, the problem might occur because of braking system problems. Here are the prime causes that I have isolated through research.

Bent Brake Rotor

One of the prime causes that may lead to tremors in the steering wheel when accelerating, is a bent brake rotor. This bending or warping might occur due to the extreme heat generated when braking at very high speeds.
The constant factor of heat and friction might ultimately takes its toll on the rotor and it might get distorted out of shape. When this happens, it doesn't rotate as freely as before, leading to the condition where the steering wheel shakes at low speeds even, at the moment you apply the brake.
So the first thing to look into is the brake rotor and get it replaced, if it is beyond repair.

Worn-out Ball Joints

The spindle mechanism of the steering wheel is supported by suspension ball joints, which may wear out and lead to vibration, that is transmitted to the steering wheel, at high speeds.

Loose Engine Mounts

Another cause of shaking in the steering wheel at high speeds is the displacement of the engine assembly or its contact with the chassis, due to loose engine mounts. This problem can be taken care of quite easily.

Worn-out CV Joint

Another reason that may cause the vibration is wearing out of the CV joint. This leads to a vibration of the steering wheel, as the axle is supported by the CV joint.
Check out all the above possibilities, which are the most likely ones. If you cannot get to the bottom of this, it is best that you visit a repair center, where they can carry out proper diagnostic tests to determine the cause. Make sure that you look into the matter as soon as possible.