Why Is My Car Vibrating?

Ellie Dyer-Brown, 3 months ago

3 min read

  • Diagnostic
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WhoCanFixMyCar explains some of the common reasons why your car might be vibrating, and what you can do to fix it.

Bigger vehicles, such as SUVs and 4x4's, usually have better suspension than smaller cars, which impacts how smooth they feel and their ability to absorb vibrations from the road.

However, if your car starts vibrating more than usual, it's important to find out why. There could be a problem with the engine or another component requiring urgent attention.

Contents:

What causes your car to vibrate?

My car vibrates when I brake

My car vibrates when I turn

My car vibrates when idle

My car vibrates at high speeds

Should I be worried if my car is vibrating?

What should I do if my car is vibrating?


What causes your car to vibrate?

Some of the common reasons for vibration in your car include:

Why is my car vibrating when I brake?

If the vibration is most noticeable when you brake, you may find that your discs have become warped, which means the pads and callipers aren’t able to get enough grip when you hit the brake pedal, usually resulting in a vibration (and longer stopping distances). 

Learn more about how brakes work.

Brake discs usually last at least 50,000 miles, though this distance can be affected by your driving style and the type of roads you typically use.

Brake disc diagram

If the discs haven’t worn down too much, it’s possible to get them repaired so they sit properly in place, but usually the best course of action is to simply have them replaced. Check out these five brake problems you shouldn't ignore.

The average cost of a brake repair booked through WhoCanFixMyCar is £440.93.

Why is my car vibrating when I turn?

Your power steering system is the most likely culprit if your car vibrates when it turns. You can perform a few checks before rushing to a garage to help you identify whether this is the source of the problem.

Firstly, check your power steering fluid reservoir. This fluid is vital because it provides a hydraulic link between the wheels and steering wheel, allowing you to turn easily. If there isn’t enough liquid inside, top it up and see if the vibration continues.

power-steering-fluid

Read this guide for more advice about checking and topping up your car's fluid levels.

Next, look at the power steering hoses - can you spot any leaks? If so, it’s time to take your car to a mechanic.

On average, a leak repair costs £77.38 when booked through WhoCanFixMyCar.

If you can’t see any leaks and your fluid is at the right level, but the vibration persists, it could be the case that there’s a minor leak, which is more challenging to spot. Having the problem diagnosed by a professional will give you peace of mind.

You can find out more about how steering system works here.

Why is my car vibrating when idle?

There are a few reasons why your car might vibrate more when it’s idling. 

1. Worn spark plugs

Like any car component, over time, your spark plugs lose their effectiveness, and when this happens it can cause your engine to misfire, resulting in a strong vibration. There are other symptoms to keep an eye out for, as we discuss here.

Spark plugs

2. Faulty timing belt

Timing belts - also known as cambelts - rely on the correct amount of tension to make sure rotations within the engine match the revs of the car. If your timing belt is broken, loose or faulty, this means that some components (like fans) will not operate consistently and could cause your car to vibrate. 

Find out how to tell if your car has a timing chain or timing belt.

cambelt change mobile-2-1

The average price of a timing belt replacement booked through WhoCanFixMyCar is £407.14. This guide explains what happens during the replacement.

3. Fuel intake system problem

The valve of the fuel intake system must be adequately sealed to prevent contamination. If the seal becomes loose or broken and your engine operates on dirty fuel, your car will likely vibrate or even shudder.

Another thing to check is your air and fuel filters, which often need replacing every 60,000 miles or so. Insufficient or dirty fuel and too much air can all impact how your car runs, including how much it vibrates.

A mechanic removing the fuel filter from a car.

These filters are usually replaced as part of an annual full service.

Why is my car vibrating at high speeds?

1. Wheel problems

Misaligned or unbalanced wheels often cause excessive vibrations when travelling at high speeds. 

Wheel alignment involves the adjustment of a car’s wheels so they’re perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other. This is crucial for maximising your tyres' life and ensuring your car travels safely in a straight line. 

Wheel alignment equipment in a workshop

Find out more about wheel alignment in this guide. It typically costs around £44.25.

Likewise, wheel balancing is vital for longevity and safety. Before your car’s wheels are put on, weights are added to the rims to ensure everything is balanced. Wear and tear after years of use can sometimes lead to an imbalance, causing vibration and shaking - particularly at higher speeds.

2. Bent axle

A car axle is a shaft or rod that connects two wheels, propelling them and maintaining their position. The engine applies force to the axle, which then turns the wheels.

When a car is involved in a collision, the axles can become bent or uneven, causing vibrations and shaking. These feelings are likely to intensify at higher speeds.

After an accident, it's vital to have your car checked for safety and functionality. On average, an axle repair costs £195.96 when booked through WhoCanFixMyCar.

Should I be worried if my car is vibrating?

Feeling some vibrations in your car is completely normal due to the movements of the transmission gears, crankshaft, and other engine parts.

That being said, too much vibration, or vibration that begins to feel like rattling, could indicate something is going wrong. You don't need to worry as long as you have the problem checked as soon as possible.

What should I do if my car is vibrating?

If your car is vibrating and you can’t work out why, or you’re worried that the problem could be serious, it’s best to have it inspected by a trained professional. The vibration might be quick and easy to fix, but the peace of mind from a mechanic’s expertise is invaluable. 

A contented female car driver.

WhoCanFixMyCar can help you find repairs that won’t break the bank at a reliable garage or mobile mechanic in your area. 

If you have any other issues with your car that you'd like to try to diagnose yourself, check out our guide on self-diagnosing car problems. The more you know about how your car works, the better.


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