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Why Is My Car Vibrating?

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Here are some things that may cause that strange vibration in your car.

Have you noticed your car is starting to vibrate? There are a few things that can cause unusual vibrations, other than a bumpy road. Let’s talk about some of the reasons your car has developed a new unwanted massage feature, and what you can do to fix it!

Could it be the wheels?

Yes, it could be the wheels! In fact, issues with your wheels are some of the most common causes for unusual vibrations. There are a few things related to your car’s wheels that may be to blame, so let’s go over the most common ones…

  1. Tires. The tires are the most common source of vibration, whether it’s because they are unbalanced or just need to be rotated, it’s a pretty easy problem to identify and fix. Take a look at each of your tires’ tread and look for any uneven signs of wear like flat spots, or areas with more wear than the rest of the tire. If you see any uneven wear, you may need your tires to be balanced. Every car wears down tires a little differently, and some tires get worn down faster than the others. To fix this, you can have your tires rotated. Both of these problems are also identifiable by a distinct shaking of the steering wheel or the entire car at higher speeds.
  2. Worn out brakes. Are you noticing that the vibrating is happening most often when you are braking? If you feel the shaking in the steering wheel and the brake pedal while you are braking harder, the vibration could be caused by worn out brake rotors. Sometimes brakes with higher mileage on them can get worn down and misshaped over time that would cause some misbalance in the rotors.
  3. Stuck brakes. Even if your brakes aren’t worn out, or are fairly new, they could still be the root of the vibration problem. Sometimes your brakes could stick, meaning the calipers are staying in the “braking” position. If this is happening, you will likely feel the vibration at higher speeds, and smell a rubber burning smell outside of the car
  4. Wheel alignment. If your car was in an accident recently or has a lot of miles, the vibration could be caused by a misalignment of the axel. Sometimes the wheels will become out of line from the axel, causing a shaking of the car frame at higher speeds. If this is the case, it’s usually not too expensive to have a tire shop straighten everything out and send you on your way!

It’s not the wheels… could it be the engine?

If you haven’t found anything wrong with your wheels or brakes, it’s possible something is going on inside the engine compartment causing a vibration or shaking feeling. Unfortunately, these issues are generally more serious and need to be FIXD, so you’ll want to address them as soon as possible. Let’s look at a few things that could cause an engine shake.

  1. Spark plugs. Sometimes foul spark plugs can be the culprit to that annoying engine shake. If your spark plugs are too dirty or not functioning at all, your engine’s timing could be a little off due to misfiring of certain cylinders. This is an easy problem to check and fix, you’ll just need to remove your spark plugs and replace any that need it!
  1. Loose Hoses. Hoses can come lose for many reasons, and when they do they can cause some issues. A disconnected air hose or vacuum hose can cause some heavy engine vibration, but luckily the problem is easy to identify and fix. Take a look under the hood and follow each hose from one end to the other to make sure they are all connected!
  1. Timing Belts. Engines are pretty complex machines, with precision timing. There are thousands of movements every second that need to be spot on for an engine to run effectively. Timing belts are important parts of this system and if they become damaged or broken, they could cause a lot of issues that make your engine run very roughly. You’ll likely hear the damaged belts squeal or rattle along with the engine shaking. It’s always a good idea to regularly check all of the belts to maintain proper engine health.
  1. Motor mounts. If your car is violently shaking at higher RPMs even when the car is in park or not moving, it could be due to broken motor mounts. There is a lot of torque produced by a car’s engine, and if a motor mount is loose or broken that torque can translate to some violent engine movement under the hood. This problem will be very visible with a quick visual check under the hood!

At the end of the day, there are MANY problems that could be causing a shake or vibration in your car. All of the possibilities were certainly not addressed in this post, but we talked about a lot of the more common issues that many of you will be experiencing. If you are having trouble identifying the issue and the problem persists, it’s probably a good idea to take it to a professional before any small issues develop into larger ones.

FIXD Research Team

At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.

We’re here to help you simplify car care and save, so this post may contain affiliate links to help you do just that. If you click on a link and take action, we may earn a commission. However, the analysis and opinions expressed are our own.

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About the Author

FIXD Research Team

FIXD Research Team

At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.

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