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Have you ever tried to go super-fast in your car and then realized that your car was not having it? Making high-speed cars is not an easy task. That is why it takes years to even design one. Traveling at those speeds, several things can go wrong. For example, one of the most annoying things is for your car to start shaking at high speeds.
If your car is shaking at high speeds, it may be due to several reasons like a wheel-related issue, engine problems, or even the aerodynamic design of the car. At high speeds, it is very difficult to identify the root cause. While these problems may seem minor at first, it is important to fix them quickly as they might intensify in the near future. Unfortunately, the origin of the vibration can be from several sources, and thus there is no one solution to all of them. The best way to identify the problem is to pay close attention to your car at low speeds or take it to the closest mechanic.
Short of that, going through this article is your best bet. We will be exploring the different causes of the vibrations of your car. Moreover, a couple of solutions that might work in each case will be discussed. So, without further ado, let’s get deep into it.
One of the most common causes for the shaking of your vehicle or your steering wheel is that your wheels get unbalanced. All wheels have an equal weight distribution around the axis of the wheels. Thus, if this balance is disturbed in any way, you end up getting an unbalanced wheel. Unbalanced wheels can be caused due to flat spots from hard braking. Alternatively, it might occur due to damage to your wheel – possibly from hitting the curb or a pothole too hard.
Fortunately, these problems are easy to spot, especially at low speeds. To find out, let your car start moving at a slow speed and let go of the steering wheel and observe the behavior of the car. Also, look out for any noise that you might get from near the wheels. In the case of an unbalanced wheel, you might notice the car pulls to one side.
Depending on the cause, it may or may not be easy to fix. In most cases, replacing the tire should help fix the problem. If the problem persists, it is probably best if you take the car to an auto mechanic.
The wheel of a car is angled to the car (camber, caster, toe) in very specific ways to influence the driving characteristics. You have misaligned wheels when one of these angles changes with respect to the other. Like the previous case, such problems generally occur if you end up crashing or hitting something too hard with your wheels.
This isn’t too easy to spot though as sometimes the change in angle is so minute that you can hardly identify a change with your naked eye. It would only be evident when your car is shaking at high speeds. Thus, you need to take it to the mechanic and let them use their laser-guided systems to correct the wheel alignment of your car.
Loose Wheel Nuts
As you might know, about 5 wheel nuts are holding the wheel in place on the car. Thus, such problems are more likely to occur if you have recently changed your wheels and may have forgotten to tighten one or more of the nuts properly.
This causes the wheel to move slightly freely on the bolts during high loads (high speeds) leading to your car shaking at high speeds. It is rare for the wheel nuts to get loose by themselves even under heavy vibration.
Either way, to eliminate this as the cause, all you need to do is tighten all the bolts according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Generally, the tool kit provided in your car is enough to deal with this problem. Worst case scenario – you might need new nuts since the older ones have probably worn out.
Low Tire pressure
If your tire pressure is low (especially if one wheel has less air than the other on the same axle), this problem might arise. Moreover, the lower the tire pressure, the amount of contact area starts to increase with the ground. Thus, the tire is not purely rolling anymore. Picture a square rotating about an axis and passing through the center of it. There are bound to be vibrations when such a thing moves.
A simple way to test this is to just look with the naked eye if any of your tires seem low on air pressure. Alternatively, you could let go of the steering wheel and see in which direction the car leans.
Thus, at high speeds, you can feel your steering wheel or even your whole car shaking. The simple solution to this is to just reinflate the tires to the specified pressures.
Damaged brake disc
Sometimes, due to excessive wear and tear and thermal stress, the brake disc bends a little bit in a portion of the brake. This can also happen during some major impact like an accident. This causes the brake disc to continuously rub against the brake caliper every rotation.
At low speeds, you will probably be able to hear a scraping sound. At higher speeds, it feels more like a vibration. Another way to identify this problem is that after driving at high speeds, you might notice a burning smell and some smoke from the tires. This is caused due to friction at high speeds.
Unfortunately, repairing the brake disc isn’t a very good option. Thus, you will have to take it to a mechanic and get the brake disc changed.
Another reason why your car starts shaking at high speed is the wind resistance of the car. Not all cars are meant to go fast. The design of the car affects how it interacts with the air around it, especially at high speeds. Thus, if you have a car with a slightly boxy design, then you might face such problems. While the engine is designed to take the car to these speeds, the actual body of the car cannot handle it.
Another possible reason for the car to vibrate a lot is if you have a bit of your window or door open on one side of the car at high speeds. This causes an uneven force on the car sometimes making your car swerve out of control.
The correct thing to do is to pull over and check whether all doors and windows are closed properly before embarking on another speedy journey. In the case of a boxy car, unfortunately, the best you can do is change your car and buy a new one. Or just don’t go too fast.
One of the problems that the engine faces at high speeds is fuel delivery. It needs precise quantities of fuel to be injected for every cycle. Hence, if there is a problem with the fuel flow related to the fuel pump or fuel filter, incorrect fuel quantities are delivered. This leads to bursts of power (or reduction of it) causing vibrations in the engine and thus the car.
At such times, you have to troubleshoot the fuel delivery system. Hopefully changing the fuel filter or the fuel pump should resolve the problem. Similarly, it is worth having a look at the fuel injectors too.
Another difficulty that the engine might face is regarding the ignition of the fuel mixture. This tends to happen especially if the sparkplugs are old and haven’t been changed for a while. At such times, the spark in the plugs isn’t generated every cycle. This leads to further fluctuations in power and eventually vibrations in the engine. Ultimately this leads to your car shaking at high speeds.
To rectify this, simply change out the spark plugs and ignition coils. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace at home too. This should immediately solve the problem.
Chain / Belt problems
The timing belt/chain is responsible for moving the camshafts and determining the valve timings in the engine. Based on these timings, other timings such as fuel injection or spark are often determined. However, if the timing belt is loose (not tensed as per specification), then the timing is messed up. As you may have realized by now this causes engine vibrations leading to other ones as well.
Fortunately, all you have to do is correct the tension of the belt/chain and you should be good to go. In some cars with an auto-tensioner, it shouldn’t be a problem (unless you have to replace the component). In older cars, you may have to manually tighten the chain/belt. An auto mechanic will be able to do this with ease.
Shock absorbers as the name states are responsible for absorbing most of the vibrations in cars. Thus, it is obvious if there are any problems with the shocks, your car will start shaking more than usual at high speeds. This can typically occur if your shock absorbers are damaged due to some form of extreme impact. For example, if you choose to jump off a ramp or such.
Generally, this effect is more pronounced at higher speeds. However, if you start noticing this at lower speeds then you will have to immediately change the shock breakers because they are badly damaged.
If you have hit a particularly rough speed breaker recently, then there is a chance that you have bent the axle. Since the axle is responsible for the rotation of the wheels, a bent axle can lead to a lot of vibrations as well.
Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for this. The axle must be replaced in such cases. Since this can be a bit challenging it is best to take it to the mechanic for some help. To prevent such problems in the future, just keep an eye out for the hazards on the road and slow down in time.
As you can see there are several reasons why your car can start shaking at high speeds. Some of these problems can be easily fixed by you. However, for the other problems, it is probably best if you take the car to the mechanic and get it fixed instantly otherwise you might face a lot of problems in the future. Either way, the vibration of your car is not something that you should take lightly. While it may start small, the problem might intensify down the line. It can lead to some serious system damage. Hopefully, this article helps you troubleshoot some of the problems that you are having. We wish you a bump-free ride soon!