7 Reasons Your SUV Shakes When You Brake?


why does my SUV shake when I brake?

Ever ask yourself why does my SUV shake when I brake? I certainly have and this article covers what you must know to understand why your SUV is shaking.

One of the most nerve-wracking feelings is when you are sitting at a stoplight and all of a sudden, you feel your SUV shake. Whether it be an intense shake where it rattles everything inside of your car or whether it be a subtle one that might make you question if the shaking is coming from one of the cars around you, either way, it is a cause for concern.

There is very little that can compare to the dangers of your breaks not working when you are driving into traffic. Most people know to bring their car to their local auto mechanic when this happens because brake troubles are extremely dangerous. However, most people do not understand exactly why their SUV shakes when they brake.

Why Does an SUV Shake When it Brakes?

Firstly, decide whether your SUV has disk brakes or drum brakes.

Disk Brakes: Warped or Damaged Rotor

If the rotor is warped, then that is not a big problem. Warping is just a sign of normal wear and tear and it is inevitable. Warping happens when the constant motion of the brake pad rubs onto the rotor, causing the rotor material to wear away.

This in conjunction with the fact that with constant use, the heat caused by the friction of the pad against the rotor can cause the rotor to warp.

Disk Brakes: Has Your SUV been Driven in Awhile?

Another reason your rotor could be warped is due to inconsistent use. If you have an SUV that has been sitting in your driveway, street, or garage for months or years on end then you will need to take extra precaution.

Take it for a quick drive around the neighborhood to see if the rotor is still in good condition. Chances are, when vehicles have not been in use for an extended period, the area under the brake pad could have corroded or collected dust that might have hardened.

It is important to note that if the rotor has been corroded, then a lot of the material will be machined away and it is likely that it will be deemed unusable. If this is happening to you, then it is best to get your brake rotor replaced.

Drum Brakes: Out-of-Round Drums

If your SUV has drum brakes, then the most likely cause would be out-of-round drums. To test this, your local mechanic will measure the drums to see if they are working properly by checking for scoring and other visible signs of damage.

With drum brakes, it is common to restore its roundness as long as the drum has the recommended level of thickness. If you do not want to risk it though, a good option would be to simply replace your drums.

The Bottom Line

To be completely sure, it is best to bring your SUV to a trusted mechanic. Most of the time, it is easy to identify a problem with your brakes but overall sometimes it is better to hand it over to a professional.

Also, just because your car may be shaking it does not mean that it is time to throw in the towel. In most cases, brake issues can be easily identified and repaired quickly.

 How do SUV Brakes Work?

Every driver knows the function of their brakes, it slows and stops his or her vehicle but do you ever wonder how brakes work?

The method behind it all is quite simple but also very interesting. Most people do not know or do not care to learn, but if you are interested, the information you obtain about your car’s braking system could come in handy.

The first bit of information you will need to know before diving into this topic is that there are currently two types of brakes:

  • Disc brakes
  • Drum brakes

Disc Brakes

To put it simply, disc brakes contain a metal disc called a rotor and the rotor is coupled to the wheel. Each rotor is locked in with a caliper and the caliper enables the rotor-and-wheel combination.

why does my SUV shake when I brake - Disc Brakes
Photo of Disc Brakes

The rotor-and-wheel combination allows the rotor to move freely until the driver pushes the brake pedal. When this happens, the pressure on the brake pedal causes hydraulic fluid in the braking system to bring the brake pad back within the caliper and into the disc, which in turn, slows the wheel.

When you apply more pressure on the brake pedal then you will also in turn apply more pressure in the hydraulic system, forcing the clamping pad onto the rotor more tightly.

Drum Brakes

For drum brakes, there is a hollow metal drum that is attached to the wheel. When the hydraulic fluid system is applied with the brake pedal and braking system, it in turn applies friction to the system which slows the wheel.

why does my SUV shake when I brake - Drum Brakes
Photo of Drum Brakes. Most often found on rear brakes or older SUVs.

Similar to disc brakes, the more pressured applied to the brake pedal will slow the wheel quicker.

Possible Reasons Why Your SUV Shakes When You Brake

Here are other reasons to consider if your SUV shakes  whenever you brake:

  • Check for any loose lug nuts: yes, this may sound simple but this could be the solution to your problem. Loose lug nuts may not sound like a big deal but loose lug nuts will cause the wheel to wobble.
  • Check each tire: the solution could be that it is not your entire vehicle, but just one corporate. One of your tires could be “out of round” and that is an easy fix.
  • Unbalanced wheel: If a wheel’s counterweight is not holding its end of the burden, so to speak, then it will affect its counterweight wheel. What this means is to just check all of your wheels to make sure that they are all functioning properly because one wheel not functioning properly will affect another.
  • Check the vehicle’s front-end alignment: Sometimes, it can be misaligned and will cause your car to shake.
  • Check your steering: be sure to double-check that the problem is not inside of the cabin. Your steering might have a damaged knuckle or the control arm could use some tightening.
  • Check the axle shaft: a damaged axle shaft is a cause for your vehicle to shake as well.

 

The Takeaway|Why it is Important to Know

Understanding Your Vehicle

As mentioned early, most people do not care to know why their SUVs shake when they brake. They do know that it is a problem and it should be taken care of as soon as possible, but they do not care to learn why. They leave that problem to their local auto mechanic to fix but knowing more about your car than just the surface level information is important.

Being Your Mechanic

 If you are off-road and need assistance but there is no one around, figuring out why your brakes are not functioning properly is important in giving you peace of mind. You will be able to figure out whether it is something crucial or mild without depending on another person.

Do Not Get Tricked

It is sad to say but it is a truth that must be admitted, while most auto mechanics are wonderful some will take advantage of you. If you understand that your SUV is shaking due to a loose lug nut but the auto mechanic wants you to get your entire brake system replaced, then you will know better.

Owning a car is an investment and that means that maintenance will most of the time be costly. However, if you understand what maintenance is necessary and what is ridiculous then you will be able to save yourself a lot of money. 

why does my SUV shake when I brake?

Helping Your Family and Friends

The more you know, the more you will be able to share right? If you are in the car with a friend, and their SUV suddenly starts to shake you will be able to calm their nerves.

The majority of the time, people tend to overreact when it comes to their cars because they have no idea what is going on.

Some people would freak out at the sight of their check engine light, not knowing that most of the time your car is just telling you the air in one of your tires is low. A quick stop at the gas station will be all it takes to fix it.

The more that you know, the more you will be able to help.

We hoped you enjoyed this article and you learned a thing or two about why your SUV shakes when you break or the science behind the braking system in general. If your car continues to shake and you cannot fathom why then we suggest bring it to a professional to get checked out.

Most of the time the problems are easy to spot out, but other times it could be something more serious. It is better to be safe than sorry, and that is especially true when it comes to the brakes in your car.

Kern Campbell

I've had a passion for four-wheel-drive vehicles since I was a kid riding in the back seat of my Grandfather's Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years. They each have their pros and cons and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you so you can find the vehicle that's just right for your needs.

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