1997 Honda Civic Random Shaking

  • 1997 HONDA CIVIC
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • 128,000 MILES
I have a 1997 Honda Civic Vtir, it has recently developed a "shaking" problem where the steering wheel and car will start to shake (like when you need a wheel alignment and go a bit fast), the shaking grows stronger and more violent and does not stop completely until the car stops moving (i.E. Slowing down once started does not stop the shaking, will stop once car is still). After stopping, I can then drive off and the problem has gone. The problem only seems to start at higher speeds but not all the time (I drive on the highway every day and it has occurred 3 times in the last 2 weeks, each time at over 70 k/h (44 mile/h)). When it’s shaking I have tried just putting the clutch in, this made no difference. After the first time it happened, when I got home it smelled like I had been driving with the handbrake on; it hasn’t repeated the smell since.

What could be causing the problem?
Do you
have the same problem?
Sunday, September 12th, 2010 AT 10:11 PM

1 Reply

Hi djvant. Welcome to the forum. Shaking can be caused by a number of things, (typically not misalignment), but thanks to your dandy clues and symptoms, this sounds like an intermittently sticking front brake caliper. One of my cars is doing exactly the same thing right now, but only after applying the brakes like normal. If I baby it and downshift to slow down, I can prevent the shaking.

What you might notice too when this occurs is the car will pull to one side when you let go of the steering wheel. It will pull toward the same side that smells hot. Another clue is when the shaking is not occurring, the car may pull the other direction under very light braking because the sticking brake is not applying.

If your mechanic can catch it when the brake is locked up, he will try to open a bleeder screw on a caliper to see if it will release. Usually it will not. That points to the caliper as the culprit. If it does release, pressurized brake fluid is trapped and can't flow freely back to the reservoir. Constricted rubber hoses are common on some cars. Brake fluid contaminated with petroleum product can happen to any car. That will cause rubber seals to swell and grow past the return ports in the master cylinder. Fluid contamination is a real expensive repair, and it's much worse if you have anti-lock brakes.

Was this
Monday, September 13th, 2010 AT 12:17 AM

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