tech talk

Call Us Today


13603 San Pedro Ave,
San Antonio, Tx 78232

Get Directions


14950 Nacogdoches Rd,
San Antonio, Tx 78247

Get Directions

Tech Talk

Car Shakes When Braking? 4 Common Causes And Fixes

A number of car problems can cause your car to shake when braking. It is a potentially serious problem that can make it unsafe to drive your vehicle. In this article, we’ll look at the four most common reasons this braking vibration issue occurs. However, no matter what’s responsible for your car shaking or vibrating, the problem will likely get worse over time. So, make sure to get your car's steering or braking systems repaired as soon as possible.


The Most Common Causes For Shaking or Vibrations:


1. Brake Pad Issues

Your steering wheel can shake if your pads are contaminated with oil, dirt, or other substances. They can cause vibration when they grip the rotor. This shaking can also happen if the pads are warped, damaged, or excessively worn. If it's your brake pads, you will likely hear a high pitched whining noise when braking.

How To Fix: Replace your brake pads.

Cost: Brake pads usually cost anywhere from $35 to $150 for a complete set for one axle. With labor, the total cost will range from $100 to $300.


2. Brake Rotor & Disc Issues

As the surfaces of rotors wear down over time they become uneven. This rotor unevenness can make your brake pads grab unevenly or, without warning, making the brake pedal and steering wheel shake. The vibration and shaking you feel from this problem will often happen when you brake at highway speeds. Rotors warp over time due to the heat generated from braking.

How To Fix: Get your rotors either resurfaced or replaced. It’s important to always replace or resurface both rotors (front set or rear set), even if only one of them is causing the problem. And you should usually replace the brake pads when replacing the rotors because the worn surfaces of the pads will not make proper contact with the new smooth rotors. If you do not replace them at the same time you will have to wait for the surfaces of both parts to align properly, making for a rougher ride.

Cost: Rotor resurfacing can cost usually $30 - $100 per rotor for labor. Rotors if bought by themselves can cost anywhere from $30 to $2000 each depending on the make and model of your car. Performance rotors will cost $150 or more. Rotors for the average commuter car will cost $30 - $150 each and labor can range usually from $150 to $200 for a two rotor replacement.

The total for parts and labor would be closer to $200 - $500 for just a rotor replacement. Replacing the pads and the rotors will not cost you much more in labor, so that is why doing both at the same time is a great idea. A brake pad and rotor replacement with labor and parts can range usually from $250 - $600 for one axle or 2 wheels (front or rear). 


3. Alignment Issues 

If your vehicle is out of alignment, then you’re likely to notice pedal vibration when you step on the brakes. Misalignment can also cause many other problems, such as rapid tire wear and damage to suspension components. One way to test for alignment problems is to bring your car up to 50-60 mph on a straightaway when there’s no other traffic nearby. Let go of the steering wheel for a brief moment and notice if the car immediately tries to go to the right or left. If it does, then it likely needs to be realigned.

How To Fix: Get a two or four wheel alignment. An inspection will determine which kind of alignment you will need. Usually, SUVs will need a 4 wheel alignment while cars will need just a front 2 wheel alignment. If your rear axle is damaged, or the car frame itself, a 4-wheel alignment is going to be necessary most likely.

Cost: 2-Wheel alignments can cost $50 to $75. 4-Wheel alignments can cost $100 to $150. It is recommended to get a tire rotation after getting an alignment. Tire rotations can be free for the life of your tires if you purchase tires from Discount Tire or Costco. Otherwise, rotations can cost $25 to $50.



4. Worn Suspension Components

Ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, and other parts of your suspension system wear over time. Any of these problems can easily cause brake problems. If your car shakes or vibrates only when turning your suspension is likely the cause. If your shaking only happens when braking your pads or rotors are likely the cause.

How To Fix: Get a car suspension inspection to diagnose the cause of the car vibrations.

Cost: The suspension inspection cost will come down to just labor costs. This cost will usually be $50 to $100 an hour. It should not take your mechanic longer than an hour to diagnose the problem.


If your car shakes when braking, then don’t take chances with an unsafe vehicle. Get your car or truck into Brake Works right away, and let our technicians correct the problem. We can fix all brake and suspension related problems.