Shaking is good on the dance floor, not so good in your steering wheel. At some point in practically every car’s life, you will feel a vibration in your steering wheel.  Sometimes the vibration starts small and then gets larger and larger until it becomes a genuine shaking machine.  Needless to say, when it gets to that point, it’s probably becoming unsafe and you should see a mechanic.  That being said, knowing what things can cause this sort of thing will allow you to better informed about the “the shake” and hopefully understand what your mechanic is talking about.

8668506006_bdc6b84d35_zImage Credit: James Maskell

Here are some of the components that might be involved:


Tires are perhaps the number one source of steering wheel vibration.  The main issue is simply that tires often wear unevenly and when you drive, they can shake and wobble in very noticeable ways.  What do you do?  First, a good garage can balance your tires to eliminate vibration and this often takes care of the problem.  In many cases, however, it’s probably just time for new set of tires.


Do steering wheel vibrations appear when you step on the brakes? If so, there’s a strong possibility that your car has a warped brake rotor, or two. Rotors are those shiny disc-shaped things that you can see through your wheel rims. They can get bent out of shape due to heavy use and become uneven and deformed.  When this happens, the calipers and brake pads can’t get a balanced grip on the spinning rotor and hence they vibrate. Often quite violently.

Front Wheel Bearings

The front wheel bearings on cars and trucks are what holds the tire on the hub and axle. They can wear over time and become loose. When this happens you can feel it in your steering wheel and hear it when driving. Bad front wheel bearings can make nasty grinding sounds when driving, usually when turning around corners. You generally don’t want to mess with worn wheel bearings, time to check in with your local mechanic when this occurs.


The axles on a front wheel drive car connect the transmission to the wheel hubs and they have flexible joints in them. These joints are generally called Constant Velocity Joints (CV Joints) and they wear out over time. One of the main reasons they can wear prematurely is that CV joints are usually covered by accordion-like boots that seal out junk like road salt and sand. The problem is that boots often tear open when they get old and the CV joint, now operating with lots of gritty stuff inside, will soon fail. When this happens, you can actually hear it “crunching” when turning corners and usually feel it in the steering wheel.

Tie-Rod Ends and Ball Joints

These are the mechanical parts in the front-end that move around when you steer.  And because they are moving parts, they will eventually wear out. At driving speeds, this can translate into annoying vibrations that are often felt in the steering wheel.  Sometimes it just feels like your steering wheel is loose and sloppy when you drive  -like it has a lot of “play”. Fortunately these worn out parts are easy to spot by a good mechanic and aren’t too difficult to repair.

So, theres a handful of reasons that steering wheels can vibrate when you drive.  Note that these reasons aren’t the only possible reasons that you can feel something awry in your front end. When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to see a good mechanic to get “the shake” analyzed and removed.

Source: Honda of Tiffany Springs


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