Heels & Horsepower Magazine


Reader Query: Why Does My Car Shake Whenever I Press The Brakes?

By Vuyi Mpofu

We receive a lot of queries via email and social media from readers enquiring about various aspects of motoring. Rather than answer each individually, we have decided to share the queries here as there may be other readers faced with similar car problems.

Sthe Gumede* of KwaMashu, Kwa Zulu Natal, drives a 2018 Toyota Yaris 1.5 Xi, with 49 302km on the clock. She sent us a query relating to a shaking sensation she experiences whenever she applies the brakes. 

Hi, I have a problem in that whenever I have to stop my car, it shakes a lot and I feel quite scared. My car is long out of warranty and before I take it to a mechanic I want to find out a bit more about the problem. I’ve been over charged in the past when I had a different problem. On top of that I later realized that the guy didn’t even fix the problem. If you can shed light on this, I will be able to at least sound like I know something about cars. Maybe I won’t be taken for a ride again!

Sthe Gumede

It is just as important that your car slows down and can come to a complete stop as it is that it can move. 

Being able to stop your car safely is important for you as well as other road users.  But, when your car starts to vibrate each time you push down on the brakes, you are within your rights to worry.

Bear in mind that although you may feel as if your car shakes only when you press the brake pedal, there could be other issues at play.  These could be due to many different things including misaligned wheels, loose lug nuts, or a problem with the vehicle’s suspension system. 

If however you, like Sthe, are confident that the problem relates specifically to the brakes then read on because we’ve outlined the most common issue associated with this problem.

Worn brake rotors and brake pads: If your brake rotors are worn out then your vehicle could shake when it slows down.  This is due to the fact that the heat that is generated during the braking process changes the rotors’ normally flat surface into one with uneven contact points.  

Because they make contact with an uneven surface, the rotors ‘bounce’ off the uneven surface, resulting in a vibrating sensation.  Furthermore, when the brake pads are dangerously worn out, they are unable to make contact with the rotors which also contributes to the car shaking when brakes are applied.

We advise motorists to have their vehicles serviced according to the manufacturer’s guidelines as problems such as what Sthe experienced can be identified and attended to quickly.  A shuddering sensation can be disconcerting and could reduce your confidence about driving the car. 

While working on your car, the technician may pick up on other things which need attention before they worsen, saving you time and reducing the possibility of a breakdown.

Should you have any queries relating to vehicle finance, insurance, maintenance, safety, or legislature, send us a detailed email to info@heelsandhorsepowermag.com 

*Name has been changed

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