While driving along a smooth road, you may be surprised that your steering wheel starts rattling and shaking. Your vehicle is meant to operate smoothly on the most relatively flat roads. Noticing a little steering wheel vibration is normal here and there, especially driving over potholes and uneven surfaces. However, there should be a bit of concern if your steering wheel vibrates regularly. Since the steering wheel is your primary connection to your vehicle, it can be one of the first aspects to indicate a problem. Below is a list of common reasons your steering wheel may be vibrating:
- If you’re driving and notice that your steering wheel shakes most when you are slowing down, your brakes may be the culprit. Badly worn brake pad and a bad brake disc can lead to a shaky steering wheel. Brake issues announce themselves because they usually only occur when applying pressure to the brake pedal.
- One of the most common reasons your steering wheel may be shaking is because your wheels are not balanced. Your wheels must be adequately balanced to ensure that the weight is evenly distributed around each wheel. Your steering wheel will shake even if your wheels are only a little unbalanced.
- Your wheel hub bearings have gone bad or are damaged. Your wheel bearings help your wheels to turn properly and help with supporting the weight of the car. If the wheel hub bears are loose, broken, damaged, or just not well lubricated, the drive shaft will also become affected. This will eventually lead to a shaky steering wheel. One significant indicator that your wheel bearings may be the issue is if your steering wheel only shakes while turning or you notice a strange noise coming from your wheels.
- Another common wheel-related culprit is misaligned wheels. Misalignments can happen after you’ve been driving your vehicle over uneven surfaces for an extended period. Potholes, speedbumps, and driving over curbs can lead to a misalignment occurring sooner rather than later. The two most prominent signs that indicate an alignment issue are worn or uneven tire tread and if your car is pulling to one side when driving. An alignment will help square your wheels and ensure they are all pointed in the same direction to get your steering wheel back centered.
- There may be an issue with your suspension. Your vehicle’s suspension system includes a complex structure of pistons, springs, shocks, and rods that all work together to connect each wheel to the rest of your car. Your suspension is a major contributor to how your car brakes and handles. It helps minimize noise, bumps, and vibrations. Over time a variety of suspension issues can arise, making them difficult to pinpoint. However, these issues are easy to fix once they are discovered. A few common suspension issues that may cause your steering wheel to shake are worn or corroded parts, old shocks, loose connections, and driveshaft imbalance. If your steering wheel is shaking due to the suspension, the problem may be more noticeable at higher speeds.
If you’re noticing any significant issues with your suspension, it’s in your best interest to bring it into a trained expert to have your vehicle diagnosed. Our trained ASE certified technicians have experience diagnosing an issue correctly the first time around. Steering wheel shakes can be a simple issue, but they can also indicate a much larger problem if ignored. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or major concerns; we’d be happy to assist.