Every rider wants a smooth experience on the road, and manufacturers of vehicles and vehicle parts know this — which is why they are ever in competition mode to produce the most comfortable car, tire, or vehicle part to smoothen the riding experience on the road.
And, as a car owner, you too may be concerned with the discomfort you experience all over sudden. The most common discomfort many riders report experiencing is a vibrating or shaking car.
Your car may vibrate when you leave it in idle mode while the engine is running, when you bring it to a stop, or when you propel it on the road. The shaking may be as a result of several malfunctions within your car’s powertrain and other mechanical parts.
We’ll go over some of these causes of vibrations to help you better understand why your car is shaking, as well as the steps you could take to fix them and get your car operating smoothly again.
Shaking Caused by Engine Defects
Your car’s engine is the heart of your vehicle. It is composed of various components and is attached to the rest of the powertrain to provide the power needed for your car.
This engine is a very delicate machine that is bound to encounter defects, especially if not adequately maintained. Many of these defects also result in your car shuddering when idle or in motion.
Issues with your car’s engine that cause it to vibrate include:
1. Spent Ignition System Parts
Your gasoline vehicle’s ignition system contains components that wear out over time and require replacing at regular intervals if the engine is to continue operating efficiently. These parts include spark plugs, coils, and transmission cables.
Overtime, spark plugs in your engine are clogged with oil and carbon deposits, causing your engine to vibrate roughly. Have the spark plugs replaced during your regular maintenance schedules, typically every 30,000 miles for copper spark plugs or 60,000 miles for platinum spark plugs.
While at it, it is recommended that you also replace the ignition coils as faulty coils result in a host of engine problems, including misfires and vibrations.
2. Faulty Motor Mounts
Mounts hold the weight of your engine and transmission systems. They are required to be firm to withstand the vibrations caused by these mechanical components. Therefore, should you experience your vehicle shaking when the engine is running, the mounts are among the first things you need to check.
If you notice they are broken, you should have them replaced immediately. Mounts also wear out over time, causing them to be weak. It is recommended that you have them checked or replaced post the five year mark.
3. Clogged Air Filters
In addition to vibrations, dirty, congested air filters cause numerous problems in your vehicle’s engine, including fuel inefficiencies and reduced performance.
It should be regular practice to clean or vacuum your engine’s air filters to remove the buildup of dirt.
The air filters also wear out gradually and require replacing. Therefore, during your routine maintenance schedules, preferably every 30,000 miles, have the air filters replaced with new ones.
4. Bad Fuel Injectors
The fuel injectors in your engine system channel fuel into the cylinders for combustion. They need to operate as efficiently as possible if the engine is to be both smooth and fuel efficient.
Dirt, leaks, and clogs in your fuel injectors cause strain on the engine, requiring it to operate more vigorously to make up for the inefficiencies caused by the bad fuel injectors, causing the car to vibrate.
Test your fuel injectors to see if they are faulty. If the issue is with dirt and clogs, you should clean the fuel injectors. If leaky, have them fixed by a professional mechanic.
Unlike other engine components, fuel injectors are relatively longer-lasting, thus do not require replacing every time you check into a car garage for routine maintenance. You may have them cleaned during routine maintenance of the vehicle and replaced between 50,000 and 100,000 miles.
5. Vacuum Leaks
Air leaks as a result of cracked or disconnected vacuum hoses interfere with your engine’s speed, resulting in misfires and backfires, among other problems. These defects cause your engine to vibrate and shake your car.
Regularly inspect the vacuum hose pipes to ensure they are not detached or cracked. If they are prone to breakage or faster wear out, it is advisable to use hose pipes made of longer lasting materials; silicone is a great choice.
Tire and Wheel Defects
Tires are integral to the level of comfort you’ll experience on the road. Unbalanced, uneven, or worn out tires will cause your car to vibrate.
If the car starts shaking when you accelerate beyond a certain speed, the issue is likely as a result of unbalanced tires. To solve them rebalanced at a tire shop. If the tires are worn out, it is time to replace them. This will have you enjoying a smoother ride on the road once again.
Your wheels may also account for the undesired shaking you experience on the road. You should inspect them to see if any lug nuts are loose. If they are, tighten them and you should experience less shaking on the road.
Axles are among the most critical components of a vehicle’s powertrain. If you notice feel a vibration arising from your driveshaft when you accelerate, this is a pointer to an issue with the axles. Have the axles inspected and fixed at a repair shop to continue experiencing a smooth ride.
Damaged Suspension Components
Your car’s suspension system is delicate as it is essential. If you feel your car is unstable, the issue may well be with your suspension.
If you find a suspension component in your car is broken, you should not attempt to repair it, for safety purposes. Instead, have the damaged part replaced with a new one. This will get your car’s suspension balanced again and eliminate the vibrations you feel when driving.
If you feel vibrations on the pedal and steering whenever you apply the brakes, it signals an issue with your car’s braking system. This may involve braking components such as rotors and calipers. Diagnosing these faults and having them fixed will enable you to step on the brake pedal without experiencing these undesired vibrations.
1. Faulty Brake Rotors
Your brake’s rotors are constantly subjected to friction whenever you apply the brakes on your wheels, causing them to thin over time. This presents both a safety and comfort issue for your car and requires that you have them checked and replaced if need be.
2. Sticky Brake Calipers
Your brake pads may become stuck as a result of faulty pistons. If you notice your car shaking when you apply the brakes, inspect the calipers on the wheels. Lubricating the pistons, taking your car for immediate brake repair, or due maintenance after 50,000 – 75,000 miles are some suggestions to get your brake system working well again.
Sam is Automole’s editor-in-chief and classic car enthusiast. Sam is studying mechanical engineering at Cockrell School of Engineering, Austin. He also writes for many top automotive publications and appears on the Collecting Cars Podcast.