12 Step Plan – Uncover What’s Causing Your Car to Shake

by | May 6, 2015 | Auto Questions, Car Problems & Repairs

Our all-time most popular blog post is all about shaking.  It is titled:  “Is Your Car Shaking? 3 Common Problems that Cause Cars to Vibrate“, and it’s had almost a quarter of a million page views.  Or, to put it in the words of Jerry Lee Lewis, there is “…a whole lot of shakin’ going on.”

Shakin’ may be great for rock ‘n roll, but for a car – not so good.

Well, to help get to the bottom of the shaking, we’ve put together 12 questions for you to take to your local automotive technician to help accurately identify what’s causing your car to shake or vibrate.

Start out by testing your car while “bearing in mind” the following list of questions. You may find it helpful to have someone assist you by documenting the answers. Once you have completed the test drive documentation, take your car to an auto repair shop that understands the relationship between all the vehicle systems that can cause shaking and vibrating. The drive train (engine, transmission and drive shafts), suspension, brakes and steering can ALL cause shakes and vibrations. Avoid specialty stores like tire shops; they may only focus on what they sell.

Here’s the list of questions:

  1. Is the vibration worse when you first start driving?
  2. Does the vibration happen all the time?
  3. What speed does the vibration start and stop?
  4. Is the vibration from the front or rear?
  5. Is the vibration from the left or right?
  6. Does the vibration change when accelerating?
  7. Does the vibration change when steering?
  8. Does the vibration get worse when braking?
  9. Do you feel the vibration through the steering?
  10. Do you feel the vibration through the driver’s seat?
  11. Is the vibration worse with the air conditioning on?
  12. Is the vibration worse on cold damp days?

Try to remember to check out the shaking on a cold damp day as well as a dry day so you’ll be able to answer that last question.  Then once you’ve gotten all the info, take you answers to the auto repair shop and demonstrate the problem to the service writer or the assigned technician. Diagnosis, including a test drive, may take between half an hour to one and a half hours so be prepared to pay for this as well as the repair. Sometimes an experienced service writer or a skilled technician may have the answer after a short test so it pays to pick a repair shop with a knowledgeable skilled staff.

Good luck at putting and end to those shakes!

To make it a bit easier for you, we put the twelve questions into a handy pdf form that you can print out or complete online. And for you “shakers” in the Columbia, MD area, we’re always happy to help out.  Call us at 410-381-2700 or click on the link below to make your appointment.


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About the Author

About Brian England

Brian England, the current president of BA Auto Care (formerly British American Auto Care), got his start with an auto apprenticeship in a small town in northwest of London. He came to the U.S. in 1972 to work for a Land Rover dealer in Rockville, MD. A few years later, he started British American Auto Care with his wife, Jennifer. Brian is a big believe in preventative maintenance, and his philosophy is to encourage and educate drivers on the benefits of a regular maintenance plan.