As vehicles age, components wear, which can often lead to bothersome vibration or shaking in certain conditions. These problems are more than an annoyance: they can lead to premature wear throughout the vehicle, and in some cases can lead to very unsafe conditions. At American and Foreign Garage, we are specialists in diagnosing and eliminating these types of problems.
A common complaint is a vibration that can be felt mainly through the steering wheel. This type of shaking often comes on as the vehicle increases in speed, or under breaking. This type of condition can be dangerous. It creates an unstable condition that can cause loss of control, especially in a sudden turn or panic stop. In the long term, there are side effects to this shaking that will cause premature wear on many systems, from tires to transmissions. Common causes include out-of-balance or damaged tires, bent wheels, worn struts or shocks, worn ball joints, and warped brake rotors.
The most common cause for this vibration is one or more out-of-balance tires. As vehicle speed increases, the out-of-balance tire shakes faster and faster, until it hits the natural frequency of the car suspension. For many vehicles this happens around 60mph. Often, if vehicle speed increases even more, the vibration will actually go away, as the frequency of the tire vibration moves out of the suspension resonance.
A vehicle which vibrates when parked or idling at a stop light most likely indicates an engine related problem. Common causes are broken motor mounts, fuel system issues, and ignition system issues.
In some cases the vehicle will shake when power is being applied – but will drive smoothly when coasting or braking. The most common cause for this issue is a problem in the driveline. Worn U-joints or CV axles allow the driveline to vibrate when under load- which can cause a violent shake in the vehicle. Basic transmission issues (such as low fluid or a clogged filter) are another possible cause.