Car jerks when braking: causes and what to do (2023)

You might want to shake, rattle and roll, but not necessarily while driving down the road. If the car jerks when braking, this is a sign that something is wrong. You should pay attention to these indicators and have your car checked as soon as possible.

In this guide, we've covered all of the main reasons why your car might shake when trying to brake to a stop. We'll also discuss the next steps you should take to ensure your safety on the road. At the end of the guide, we'll show you how best to extend the life of your brakes.

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Causes of car twitching when braking

The most common cause of a car's shimmy when braking is warped, worn, rusted, or damaged brake discs. It can also be caused by wheel misalignment, wheel imbalance, or suspension issues.

1.Bent or damaged brake discs

Bent, rusted, worn or damaged brake discs are by far the most common reasons why a car jerks when braking.

Brake discs work like discs. They are attached to the wheel hub assembly and are located between the brake pads. When the pads are tightened, friction against the rotor helps slow the vehicle.

These brake discs can warp and cause vibration when braking. You may also hear a crunching noise in this case.

when you feelshake the steering wheel when braking, it is likely that the front brake discs are warped. But if the whole car jerks when braking, but you can't feel it in the steering wheel, it's probably the rear brake discs that are causing the problem.


2.unbalanced wheels

In addition, the wheels can become unbalanced and jerky when braking. Riding with under- or over-inflated tires can cause a balance issue.

In this condition, you put more stress on the vehicle's suspension and the tires wear out faster than normal. Because of this, it is necessary to balance the wheels regularly to ensure smooth driving and braking.


3.bent tires

If you hit potholes or curbs, you may have bent a wheel. This condition causes jerks when driving and braking.

You may only notice it slightly when driving at low speed or braking as wheel speeds are slower. However, tremors can also increase with increasing speed.


4.suspension problems

Another reason your car may shake when driving and braking is a suspension problem. Driving over bumps and spots in the road will smack the suspension.

There may be a problem with a shaft or constant velocity (constant speed) joint. When these joints are damaged, the vehicle has been known to shake.


5.bad wheel alignment

IfThe wheel alignment gets out of control, you may notice a tremor during braking and normal driving. With the wheels aligned, the vehicle should travel in a relatively straight line unless otherwise tilted by the road.

If the car slides sideways due to the orientation, you can feel the jerk when braking even more. Either way, getting the wheels aligned is important so you don't have to fight as hard to stay on the road.

6.worn brake pads

Your vehicle's brake pads are not meant to last forever. When braking, the lining material slowly wears out. As soon as the pads need to be changed, you may hear strange noises and feel vibrations.

However, vibrations can also occur with newer brake pads. If there is a...Brake lining defectiveExpect some tremors too.

7.stuck brake calipers

Calipers are needed to push the pads towards the rotor. When you step on the brake pedal, hydraulic fluid is drawn into the caliper chambers. This pressure pushes the piston outward to depress the pads, which puts pressure on the rotor. The harder you press the brake pedal, the more fluid comes out to build up brake pressure.

Sometimes,Staples can get stuck, making it impossible to apply the brakes. In other cases, the caliper can get stuck when engaging, so the pads never disengage from the rotor. You can still feel vibrations, although sticking in gear should cause problems even if you don't put your foot on the brake pedal. In this situation, you can also smell something burning.

The car shakes when braking: what to do

Check the braking system

Most of the time, if the car shakes when you brake, you can be sure that something is wrong with the braking system. For this reason you should check the braking system before proceeding. Ideally, you start by looking at the brake rotors and pads. When they wear out, you need to replace them, whether you fix the tremor or not. You can spend anywhere from $115 to $300 per axle to change the brake pads.

If the brake pads are worn, the rotors could be the culprit. Rotors can warp over time, especially when used with bad brake pads or a stuck caliper. In some cases it is possible to repair the rotors and continue using them. Otherwise you will have to replace them with new ones. Relining can cost as little as $30 per rotor, while replacement typically costs $150-$450 per shaft.

RELATED:Should I rebuild or replace my rotors? (When to replace?)

I hope you don't have to deal with stuck calipers, but it happens. A little lubrication can help loosen the clamp. If not, you'll need to replace it, which can cost anywhere from $200 to $300 a piece.

rate tyres

If you feel like the braking system is okay, it's time to turn to the tires and wheels. It is best to check tire pressure first as this is the easiest aspect. If either tire is under-inflated, have it repaired before proceeding.

Regular wheel alignment is important to keep your tires in good condition. On average, it's best to align every 6,000 miles. This maintenance task can cost anywhere from $50 to $150, but some companies offer these services as part of a package. Also, wheel balancing should be done every 6000 miles on average. You can alsoSpend $100 to balance all four wheels.

If the problem is a bent tire, you could expect a higher cost. Depending on the type of tire you currently use, you can spend anywhere from $150 to $500.

Check suspension

If you can't find anything wrong with the tires or brakes, the suspension is probably the only other area that could cause problems. With so many functional components to check, it can be difficult to diagnose suspension problems.

You want to inspect the axles, constant velocity joints, and other suspension parts. When it comes to repair costs, you can consider different expenses depending on what's broken.

see a mechanic

If you can't find the problem or don't feel experienced enough to handle the diagnosis, your best bet is to visit your local auto repair shop. Look for local shops in your area to see which one suits your needs at a reasonable price.

You want to choose a store with a lot of experience. In some cases, it's best to visit the retailer if you want to deal with technicians who are certified on a specific model.

RELATED:Noise when braking? (See solution)

Extend the life of your brakes

Buy quality brakes

If you want your brakes to last, the first thing you need to do is buy quality parts. Cheap parts can save you money initially, but they don't last as long.

Some manufacturers offer warranty on parts. If you can afford to pay a little more for the warranty, it might be worth it in the future.

stop slowly

The way you drive has a big impact on how long your brakes last. Keep your distance from cars in front of you so you don't have to brake quickly.

You also don't want to brake harder than necessary. That being said, avoid braking just to slow down. Instead, consider simply taking your foot off the accelerator to naturally slow down.

Don't use your left foot

Unless you drive a manual transmission vehicle, there's no reason to involve your left foot. Tapping the brake pedal with your left foot makes stepping on the brake easier.

Instead, learn to steer with one foot. This way you have to take your foot off the accelerator before you can brake, reducing time on the pedal.


The more cargo you have in your vehicle, the more braking power you need. To reduce wear on the brakes, you can reduce the load and lighten the components.

At the end of the day, take out everything you don't need. You should also consider how much aftermarket equipment is included with the vehicle and how weight affects braking performance.

Perform maintenance

Your brakes need maintenance just like the rest of your car. Start by checking your brake fluid regularly and topping up as needed.

You should also have your brake pads checked regularly. If you have reliable brake pads in the car, you will not have to replace the brake discs as often.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my front end wobble when braking?

The most common reason why a car's front end shakes when braking is due to worn, warped or damaged front brake discs. It can also be caused by bad brake pads, unbalanced tires, or other suspension issues.

Is it safe to drive if the car shakes when braking?

Depending on whether the juddering when braking is due to slightly warped brake discs, it can be relatively safe. If it's due to rusty or worn brake rotors or other faulty suspension parts, it's probably not safe. To determine if it is safe to drive, you must first investigate and find the problem.

How do I know if my rotors are bad?

The easiest way to tell if your rotors are bad is to visually inspect them. If they look rusty or cracked, that's a strong sign that they're in bad shape. You can also measure their thickness and if they are too thin compared to the manufacturer's specs you should replace them.

Can unbalanced tires cause vibrations when braking?

Yes, unbalance can cause vibrations when braking. However, you tend to feel vibrations at higher speeds and not only when braking.


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