Why Is My Car Shaking?

Why Is My Car Shaking?  This is a very common question among car owners.

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The good news is that your Kia is going to last you decades if you take good care of it. The bad news is that at some point during those decades of driving your Kia, you are probably going to encounter some shaking. No matter how careful you are, your car is still a car, with lots of moving parts, and eventually, those parts are going to wear down and need replacing.

Because you can’t see most of your car’s most active parts (they’re hidden by your wheels and by the hood), you might not even realize that they are worn down. Shaking, whether during driving or braking, is a good indicator that something is wrong with your car. You may not even notice the vibrating at first, when it is very subtle, but eventually, you will begin to feel the car shaking as you drive down the highway or come to a stop at a light and know that it needs some attention.


But why do our cars shake? What kinds of problems can cause this vibration? Here are five of the most common reasons that your car is vibrating and what you can do about them.

1. A problem with the engine.

While you might not be able to tell at first, the shuddering may be coming from your engine. This can happen in a number of different situations, including during acceleration, when you hit or exceed a certain speed, or after a few minutes or hours of driving. This is likely because your engine isn’t getting the air, spark, or fuel that it requires.

If it is the engine that’s shaking, you will likely be able to feel where the shaking is coming from. When the shaking comes from your engine area, your car is likely trying to tell you that it is in need of some new spark plugs, which can ensure that your engine gets the oxygen, fuel, or spark that it needs to run smoothly. Having your spark plugs checked to make sure that they are all in working order and that they are connected correctly could solve this problem.

Another reason your engine might be shaking is because of clogged or dirty filters. If your air or fuel filters are mucked up, the engine isn’t getting what it needs.

2. A problem with the axle.

One of the most common causes of a vibrating car is a bent axle. This is one of the many rotating parts that can be damaged during a collision (though it may be something as simple as hitting a particularly deep pot hole). If it is bent or somehow bumped out of alignment, it will likely still turn, but it will create a shaking sensation, rattling the entire car as it goes.

In that same vein, if the axle’s joints are starting to wear out, either from long-term use or because it lacks the proper lubricant, road grime can creep up into your axle and damage it, again causing that rattling as you drive.

3. A problem with the brakes.

Does your car only shake when you use the brakes? While some shaking is natural during an emergency braking situation (if you have antilock brakes), the brakes should not shake as you come to a gradual stop. This could indicate worn rotors, misaligned calipers, uneven wearing on your pads, or completely worn away pads.

The older your car is, the more likely it is to have a bent, worn, or warped rotor. The same goes for the calipers and the pads. If your pads are worn down, they will have a difficult time gripping to rotor. If the rotor is unevenly worn, the entire brake system will shake as it attempts to pull the car to a stop. Air in the fluid lines, missing pads, and grooved rotors can all cause brakes to shake and rattle the car.

4. Your wheels are wobbling.

If your wheels are wobbling, you likely feel the vibrations throughout the entire car, but most intensely through the steering wheel. Most people assume this is a problem with the alignment and just get their wheels realigned. While this may solve the problem in some instances, it does not always solve the larger problem, which is an issue in the wheel’s hub.

If the wheels are wobbling at the hub, it may point to a number of different culprits, ranging from damaged wheel bearings or a wheel whose “runout” is not entirely circular (meaning that it does not spin in a perfect circle when rotating). In these instances, a new wheel usually solves the problem.

5. Your tires are having issues.


Tires are the most common cause of any shakiness or vibration in your car, and the solution is usually fairly simple. If your car is vibrating only when you get up to a certain speed, it may mean that your tires are out of balance, and simply having them balanced can solve the problem. This may also be caused by uneven tire pressure, so check your pressure and make sure they are all at the correct level, as dictated by your manual.

Additionally, if your tires have uneven wear on the tread or have a separated tread, they can shake and wobble while driving around. In some instances, what seems like a tire problem, may actually be a bent rim or other wheel problem. If the tires seem to be the cause of your car’s shakiness, make sure to bring your Kia into our service department for maintenance or necessary replacements.

  1. I have a 2004 Kia Rio automatic that I plan on taking to the grave. I’ve had issues, but when they are properly diagnosed and tended to the car runs like a dream.

    Within the past three weeks I’ve had an issue with vibration in my steering wheel, mostly when it’s idling, but also when I drive (but more at idle). My Kia dealer is having a hard time finding the cause and I’m getting a bit frustrated with their indifference. The service attendant noticed he was not hearing any exhaust sounds when he gunned the engine, but nothing was done. And now they’re telling me my car is old and I should expect vibrations. Well, I won’t be brushed off nor ignored so easily so I did what any woman would do…. I went online and did some research on my own. I think I discovered my problem. Tell me if you agree.

    Could it possibly be my exhaust manifold?

    • Hi Louise, first off… glad you love your Rio that much! Also, glad to see you wanted a second opinion and did your research. The exhaust manifold is certainly a possibility, but would need to take a look to say yes. Any chance you are near our dealership?

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