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Why Your Steering Wheel Shakes and What You Need to Fix It

Diagnosing vehicle issues can be a tricky test, and figuring out a shaking steering wheel might be the most daunting of all. Here’s what could be causing your steering wheel to shake and how to go about fixing it.
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Driving with a shaky steering wheel can be extremely unsettling, and it can also mean mechanical issues are lurking. While it may not mean a trip to the auto shop, it’s important to understand the signals your vehicle is sending. Plus, having steady and reactive steering is a crucial component to staying safe on the road.

We’ll examine some causes of the shaky steering wheel and tell you when a trip to the mechanic is in order. From common issues to last-resort fixes, you’ll be able to drive safe and straight with this guide.

Brake Rotors

If your wheel starts to shake when you’re applying your brakes and slowing down, there could be issues with your brake rotors. Brand new rotors are smooth and can become warped over time, making the need for proper pad maintenance essential.

As the rotors become misshapen, you’ll feel shaking throughout the vehicle. New rotors will solve the problem but can be tricky to replace, so consult a mechanic if you’re not experienced with brake repair.


One of the most common causes of a shaking steering wheel is when your vehicle is out of alignment. Potholes and other road hazards can take a toll on your vehicle’s suspension, causing the tires to meet the pavement unevenly. A mechanic can easily perform wheel alignments, which can save your tires from wearing prematurely as well.

Wheel Bearings

While they don’t fail as often as many people think, wheel bearings can cause your vehicle to shake and vibrate. If you’ve exhausted all other options, consider checking your wheel bearing for signs of failure. With replacement, your ride should be back to riding smoothly.

Brake Calipers

Another uncommon cause of the shakes is sticky brake calipers. This means when you apply your brake, your pads will get stuck on the rotors longer than intended. This will cause faster wearing of the pads and can lead to vibrations and trouble handling. While caliper replacement is difficult, you can take steps to prevent future problems. Try washing your wheels and brakes thoroughly, and drive immediately after washing to avoid rust. Calipers can become stuck with debris build-up, so regular washing is important to avoid issues. Consult a mechanic before doing any caliper replacement.

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Another cause of shaking may be axle issues. Much like your wheels, axles need to be balanced (and stay balanced) for proper operation. If you have an older vehicle, you’ll want to make sure your axles haven’t become damaged. You should be able to hear axle problems in newer vehicles before you feel them.

Wheel Balance

As we mentioned above, wheels need to be balanced to travel down the road smoothly. Many factors can cause them to fall out of balance, including weather changes, rough roads, and improper inflation. Experts recommend you balance tires at least every 15,000 miles, and if you’ve been feeling some shaking while doing highway speeds, this could be a likely culprit. Leaving this shaking can cause big problems to other systems, so don’t put it off until it’s too late.


Possibly the most costly repair, a damaged suspension can cause steering wheel shaking, vibrations, and dangerous driving conditions. There are numerous working parts within your suspension, so if you’ve eliminated other potential issues, you’ll most likely need a mechanic to solve the problem. A proper preventative maintenance routine can help stop suspension problems before they arise, so don’t skip any scheduled appointments.

As you can see, the list of possible culprits of a shaky steering wheel is long and varied. Many systems help keep you under control, and any one of these could be causing your issue. Taking your vehicle into a professional is the best bet when trouble first arises. This will help keep repair costs down and keep you safer on the road. Quit fighting that shaky wheel and start narrowing down the list to enjoy your drive again.

CPC-logoThis story was made possible by our Community Partners Program. Thank you Davis Chevrolet for helping to expand local news coverage in Alberta. Learn more.
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