Mechanics

Steering Wheel Shakes

Easy step by step guide how to repair an automotive steering wheel that shakes, this information is listed in order of popularity and pertains to most vehicles.

Difficulty Scale: 4 of 10

Before starting inspections or repairs, park the vehicle on level ground, lift it safely using jack stands, transmission in park and the emergency brake set.

Step 1 - When brake rotors become warped due to heat from heavy braking, the steering wheel will shake as the brakes are applied. To check for this problem rotate the brake rotor by hand, the rotor should move freely without hard spots, to fix this problem the rotors must be re-machined or replaced. Learn more


Installing Re-Machined Brake Rotor

Step 2 - When a tire is out of balance it can make the steering wheel shake at highways speeds. Tire maintenance includes balance and inspection for defects and cord separation. Tire's are manufactured in layers which can be become weak and separate internally causing the front end and steering wheel to shake when the brakes are applied driving down the road.


Tire Flat Spot

Step 3 - If a steering tie rod is worn it will allow play between the spindle and the steering which will shake the steering wheel. Tie rod ends are designed to move each spindle and are the final portion of the steering system. Learn more


Replacing Tie Rods

Step 4 - When a CV axle joint becomes worn it can have hard spots and bind which will cause the steering wheel to shake. A CV axle is design to transfer power from the transmission to the front wheels (front wheel drive vehicles). Learn more


Replacing CV Axle

Step 5 - On vehicles designed with upper control arms, bushings inside these arms can wear causing the steering wheel to shake. Learn more


Upper Control Arm

Step 6 - If the suspension ball joints are worn it will allow the spindle to wonder causing the steering wheel to shake.


Lower Ball Joint

Step 7 - When an idler or pitman arm wears it allows excess movement causing the steering wheel to shake. To inspect an idler or pitman arm, have a helper turning the steering wheel slightly (jog) back and forth, if excess movement (play) is observed from these steering components replacement is required.

Helpful Information

A steering wheel should provide a steady and smooth motion when maneuvering the vehicle.

AUTHOR


Written by
Co-Founder and CEO of 2CarPros.com
35 years in the automotive repair field, ASE Master Technician, Advanced Electrical and Mechanical Theory.


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Article first published (Updated 2015-03-04)