Why is My Car Shaking When I Drive?

Jack Dreyer | Friday 13th January 2023 12:30pm

Why is My Car Shaking When I Drive? is overlaid on top of an image of a person holding their steering wheel.

If you’ve ever suddenly noticed your car shaking while driving at speed, it can be really quite startling – not only that, but it can even be dangerous if it begins to impact your car’s handling. If it’s not addressed, it can even lead to compounding, expensive repairs.

So what are some common causes, and what can you do about them?

Check your wheels

If your car is shaking, especially at speed, then the issue almost always lies with the wheels. Even though it often feels like it’s coming from somewhere else if the whole car begins to shudder, it’s usually something wrong with the wheels!

The first thing to check is your tyres. Start with the front pair and check to see that they’re properly inflated and have no punctures or debris that could be causing a clanking sound. It’s worth also checking that they’re not significantly worn in any place – though if they’re worn in specific places then you can eek a lot of clues out about the cause.

Be sure to look for any dents in the wheel hub itself – it’s unusual but possible that a significant dent causes the wheel to not rotate as evenly as it should. Usually, this will only ever happen after a serious tyre blowout if the hub takes the weight of the car. That said, a serious enough impact should be spotted and addressed by a technician when replacing your tyre – all of our technicians are certainly trained to spot these issues!

If the front two wheels seem OK, then move to the back two, making sure that they’re also correctly inflated.

Steering & wheel alignment

If the tyres don’t appear to be causing any issues, the second, and most common, place where your troubles lie is to do with how the wheels are aligned. It goes without saying that the front two wheels are used to steer the car, but the mechanics of how a four-wheeled vehicle can continue in a straight line are surprisingly complicated.

The short explanation is that the wheels need to be turned ever so slightly towards the centre of the car to help keep a car steering straight – this is usually checked and optimised when tyres are changed, but anything as benign as a knock against a curb can throw off alignment.

Like a broken supermarket trolley’s rollers, the wheels will begin to fight each other as you pick up speed – until they’re vibrating against each other.

Thankfully, this is usually an easy fix at your local Kwik Fit centre!

Suspension parts being worn or broken

A mechanic works on the suspension of a car which is lifted above him.

Your wheels exist to maintain contact with the road but, as mediaeval horse carts showed, wheels without suspension are very uncomfortable. So, when suspension parts start to go, you’ll usually notice the knocking sounds as your car frame loses support.

Worn suspension will usually result in knocking-type sounds rather than vibration – but don’t put off repairs here because the lack of cushioning from a broken suspension part can build into deeper, harder-to-fix damage.

Engine misfiring

Sometimes, an engine misfiring or the pistons being misaligned can shake the car as the engine fights against itself – especially at higher revs. Though this will usually only happen to the extent that you’ll feel it in the car with larger, older engines.

The engine mounts may have become loose too, causing the engine to shudder against the chassis of the car.

If it’s at the stage where it’s shaking your car, it will typically be obvious that it’s the engine causing issues – and you can usually tell by keeping the engine running while parked. Have a look under the bonnet and if you can see the engine physically shuddering (though a little is quite normal) then you might have your culprit.

Shake your problems at your local Kwik Fit

Wherever the problem lies, the experts at your local Kwik Fit centre can be trusted to find it and fix it. Book your car for an inspection.

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