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If you have had a car for a long time, there’s a high probability that it would become problematic over time. One of the most prominent and most disturbing of these problems is usually vibrations. Interestingly, it usually starts small and stealthily till it manifests fully and you begin to wonder how you managed to bear its annoyance.

By that time such questions as “what does it mean if my car starts vibrating?” Although you would need an experienced automotive engineer to assess the car, you can diagnose problems which are quite common like vibrations.

Fixing vibrations can either be simple and cheap especially if tire rotation or balance cause the problem or it can be a sign of some big problems in your car which could cost you money. Things like suspension problems or steering issues.

Identifying the problem with your car when it’s starting out can seem like a difficult task at first. However, you need to bear in mind that finding and fixing such problem could save you from tougher problems and possibly heftier repair bills in the near future.

If you have noticed shimmies, shakes or vibrations in your car or you are not taking your chances and would like to prevent any or all of those conditions from occurring, then you are in the right spot. We are taking a look at five reasons why your car is vibrating.

The car engine compartment may sometimes give off a shudder or shake due to the lack of enough fuel, air or even spark which it needs for a smooth operation. Symptoms which can suggest your engine is the cause of such shakes include:

  • Jerking or shudder occurring when accelerating
  • Staccato shaking
  • Car starts drives well for some time and then starts shaking.

If you experience such symptoms, it might mean you need a new set of spark plugs, but if your spark plugs are good, then the problem could be from the spark plug wires. Check if they are connected properly or worse still if they need to be replaced.

Finally, if your car’s air filter is dirty or your fuel filter is clogged, the engine might be deprived of the oxygen or fuel that is required. Therefore, you should endeavour to have them replaced at the recommended intervals suggested by the manufacturer.

Cars we drive have rotating parts which should be of certain measurements if they are to perform well. Therefore, if the axle bends for instance (this can easily occur during a collision or some sort of mishap), this would result in a jostling ride. With this, when you ride faster you would notice the intensity of the vibration increases.

A similar problem could also be that the car’s driveshaft needs to be inspected.

Worn-out CV (constant velocity) fits in the same category. If the rubber, accordion-like coverings (called boots) which are around the ends of drive axles are steady, intact and clamps are secure, and there’s no lubricant seeping out, there are chances that they are not the issue. However, if you notice torn boots, that means more dust, dirt and road filth is entering and damaging the joints. For cars with front-wheel drive, toasted V joints mean you’ll need to buy some new drive axles.

Axles of unevenness might be making your car shake, but what would happen when those bad vibrations occur only when brakes are applied? Find out below.

Do you notice an intensified bad vibration when your brake is applied? If you do, it is very likely that your car is being run with warped brake rotor(s).

A rotor is that silver disc-shaped, shiny component found on vehicles that use a disc brake system. It’s normal for the rotor to bend out of shape; this usually occurs by heavy wear and tear. This means exceeding the stress of overheating the rotor can bear. Instead of having a flat uniformed shape, a deformed rotor would have the part of its surface raised or lowered. The brake pads and calipers which compress the brake rotors with the aim of stopping the car would therefore not be able of getting an even grip on such warped rotor, leading to vibration.

If you are not sure how to use a wrench, it’s advisable to contact a brake specialist that can decipher and tell you the current condition of your car’s rotors and brake drums (for cars that use rear drum brakes).

You can occasionally feel your car vibrating directly through the steering wheel, once you experience this, you might guess it’s caused by an alignment issue but if you take your car to an expert mechanic, they would often say otherwise.

You might notice that one or more wheels sometimes are set back by wobbliness or even excessive play at the hub. The cure (and diagnosis) for this could vary, as it could point at several issues. Assuming that each wheel is securely fastened to the hub with adequately torque lug nuts, the solution for any shaky wheel might require replacing the wheel bearings. The wheeling bearings used for most modern vehicles are expected to last the entire lifetime the car/truck last. However, if you use your vehicle rather roughly, subjecting it to wear-and-tear which is worse-than-typical (for instance off-road usage, extremely hard driving, and high mileage) you shouldn’t be surprised when the bearings begin to wear out.

You should also look for the term “runout.” This term describes the number of times a spun wheel deviates from its perfectly circular motion. Wheel technicians make use of precision instruments to find out if runout on any of the vehicle’s wheel is more than half an inch. Most of the time, the only solution is getting a new wheel.

Some other reasons/sources of wobbly, wiggling wheels are the ball joints or the tie-rod ends. You should know that if these are worn out, they tend to allow excess play in the wheel. When on motion, this means you’ll experience annoying vibration.

Wheels are some of the common causes of a vibrating car. However, we can break this down. Our top reason why your car is vibrating is…

Tires… Yes, tires. These are the last but one of the frequent causes of a vibrating car.
There are several ways which tires can cause your vehicle to shake, roll or rattle. In fact, the full list is a really long one, so here a few of the major ones;

  • If your car is vibrating at certain speeds – it requires tire balance
  • If the tires have separated tread – consider replacing the tire
  • If you experience uneven tire wear – it requires tire rotation
  • If tires are out of round and you notice they roll unevenly – the tires need to be replaced.

Occasionally, your tires might not be the cause of the vibrations but the wheels that are wrapped around them. Try to keep an eye out for road repairs not properly done and potholes while on the road, as both can be bad for your car tire wheels.

Also, remember that these reasons why your car is vibrating are just some of the reasons for vibrating cars, there are lots of others. So, if you are not sure if any of the reasons below is the problem, please see an automotive expert.

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