Steering Wheel Shakes When Braking Downhill

My steering wheel shakes when braking downhill, what can be the reason? There can be many reasons that can cause this, but all are related to the braking system and all can be dangerous in the long term.

 If your car steers out of control when you drive on a downhill road, you are bound to feel a momentary panic. For example, you are an experienced driver on a tricky road that goes downhill. 

You are extra careful and feel your steering wheel shaking when you brake. For that split second you will lose control and the imminent danger will be visible to you. 

You need to pay close attention to the factors that may be causing your car to behave the way it is. To troubleshoot, you should try to identify the circumstances responsible for the event in a variety of ways. 


Steering Wheel Shakes When Braking Downhill


The easiest way to go through it would be to feel the part your body is making the most contact with – the steering wheel. The possible reasons for vibrations in your steering can be listed as follows:

  • You feel abnormal vibrations when you drive at higher speeds such as 60 or 70 kmphs.
  • Your steering rumbles when you are rotating your tires or after a new tire change.
  • You notice quivers during certain motor states such as accelerating, braking and coasting.

We will look at the possible reasons your steering wheel shakes if braking downhill. I will give you a head’s up on the steps you can follow to evade disasters. 

I will also share a rough estimate of the amount you would need to get rid of any functional disabilities of the car. So, keep going for a safe drive.

Why Does My Steering Wheel Shudder When I Brake Downhill?

Now that you have narrowed down the cause of the malfunctions, here are the reasons for it.  I will list down the common checks you can run before you go on a drive to ensure a safe drive. 

Also, if your concern is not getting ripped off at an automobile store, you should go through the following points. I will provide the solutions for any repairs that your vehicle will need to go through.

Common Causes

#1. Warped Rotors (Variations In Rotor Thickness)

Most modern day cars have disk brakes. Disc brakes work when you press the brake pedal and force a pair of brake pads to compress the disk-shaped rotors. This action creates the friction needed to stop the car. 

With time rotors tend to wear out, developing irregularities known as parallelisms. This is one of the major causes of the rotors wobbling. This prevents the pads from applying equal pressure on the disks. The unequal pressure causes vibrations in the car. 

When going downhill, you need to apply the brakes harder (to counteract the force of gravity). This will cause more heat to be produced on the rotor disc, causing even more vibrations.

If you feel vibration in the front steering wheel, it is likely the front rotors are warped. If your rear seat is vibrating, the rear rotors are likely twisted. Either way, due to the stronger force of the brakes, the effect of warping will be more going downhill 


Brake rotors can be resurfaced, which means grinding down a thin film of the rotors. This gets rid of the irregularities. This will cost you around $50 – $100.

In case of severe damage, you may have to replace the rotors and the brake pads. The repair can cost you anything around $250 – $600 for two wheels. It is always recommended to get a replacement of the whole pair altogether.


Steering Wheel Shakes When Braking Downhill


#2. Worn Out Suspension Components

The suspension components of a car include wheel bearings, ball joints, and tie rods. All these wear out with repeated use. If your suspension components wear out, you might hear odd noises during movement. You may also experience vibrations and shuddering when braking.

On a downhill road, the suspension works even harder, especially if the road is not that good. When turning or steering, you can feel the effects of a worn out suspension, which are to create vibrations or tremors. 

Regular servicing is highly recommended for these parts as well. If you are a frequent downhill driver, regular change of parts is necessary.


The replacement of suspension components of a car can cost anything around $1000-$5000. The cost depends on the damage it has sustained. This can be avoided by regular oiling and services.


You might like to read: Steering Wheel Shakes When Going Over Bumps


#3. Poor Condition Of Brake Pads

Every time you press the brake pedal, the brake pads go through equal strain as the rotors. If you are driving in the country where the traffic is less, you should get your brake pads serviced every 25,000 miles. 

On the other hand, you should get servicing every 15,000 to 20,000 miles if your car is being driven on city roads. Any squeaking sound or unwanted vibration can be a symptom of damaged brake pads. You should be on the lookout for those and do the needful whenever necessary.


If your brake pads are breaking down you would have to get a replacement. A replacement will cost you around $115-$130 per axle including parts and labor.

#4. Worn Out Brake Calipers

Brake calipers are the part that applies pressure on the brake pads to clamp the brake disks. Their job is to make sure that the brake pads are pressed and depressed, but they are equally prone to wear and tear. 

Most brake failures occur due to worn-out brake calipers. Brake calipers can also get stuck due to rust. There is a lot of heat produced while braking which can cause the calipers to melt and stick to the rotor.

In either case, if the caliper is stuck to the rotor, it will cause shaking in the wheels, especially when you are going downhill.


To replace brake calipers it can cost up to $560 – $900, the labor cost being $130-160 and the parts being $435 – $740. The price may vary depending on the size of the vehicle.


Steering Wheel Shakes When Braking Downhill


#5. Mis-aligned Tires

When you regularly drive your car, the wheels tend to wear out gradually. If you are taking more turns in one direction than the other, or you are going on a road that is smoother on one side than the other, your tires may not wear out equally on both ends. This can cause wheel alignment issues.

Poor wheel alignment presents itself in the form of vibrations, noise and in general, a bumpy ride. When you are going downhill, this can be more serious because there is already more pressure on the front tires than the rear ones.

You can get it fixed by a simple tire alignment from your technician. You should also get a suspension and axle inspection. Wheel alignment can be complex, depending on the vehicle you ride. An alignment for an SUV, a four-wheel-powered car, and a two-wheel-powered car will differ. You might also consider rotating your tires if only one of the wheels is misaligned. 


A tire realignment for four wheels will cost around $100-$150, for two wheels it may cost around $50-$75. A tire rotation will cost around $25-$50.


You might like to read: Which Brake Pad Goes On The Outside


#6. Air Trapped In Brake Lines

For the brakes of a car to work the most vital component is the brake line. The brake systems of most cars nowadays are based on hydraulics. Hydraulic fluid is put through tension, which causes them to carry energy into the brake rotors from the brake pedals. 

This fluid has to be maintained very meticulously. If the brake fluid of your car is less, it can cause problems while braking such as shaking and poor braking power.


To keep the brake line in the best condition you will have to flush and change it regularly which can cost up to $100.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my steering wheel shake when I brake downhill?

The most common cause of that would be the worn-out brake rotors due to continuous wear and tear. But, other reasons such as a general degradation in the parts of the brake system can be an issue.

Why does my car shake when I try to brake?

A car will shake when braking if the rotors have warped. The rotors of a car are prone to thinning down. This is due to accumulated dust in the brake components. Excessive wear and tear of the brake pads is also an alarming concern. Thin rotors cause difficulties in braking.


Steering Wheel Shakes When Braking Downhill


Can unbalanced tires cause vibrations while braking?

Unbalanced tires will have severe alignment issues. They will result in vibrations all the time, not just during braking. If your car has issues only during braking, it is advised to check the brake systems initially. A full check-up is necessary to get rid of possible malfunctions.

How do you know if your rotors are warped?

You can be assured that the rotors are warped if your car shudders when braking. On a downhill road, the vibrations will be more prominent. In serious cases, the shuddering will be highly noticeable. In milder cases, you may not even feel the vibrations.


You might like to read: What Does A Steering Knuckle Do?


Is it okay to drive with warped rotors?

Absolutely Not. Driving with warped motors is not at all a safe option. If put under extreme pressure the rotors will eventually brake. Your car will lose its braking faculties. You may end up getting fatally injured as a result.

Why does my jeep shakes when i brake?

Worn-out brake pads are the most likely reason, because they will cause the brake to apply pressure on the rotor directly, and this will cause shaking and vibration.

What happens when you step on the brakes?

Most braking systems today use hydraulics for carrying pressure from the brake pedal to the wheel. Simply put, pressurized brake fluid converts the small force that you put on the brake pedal into a big force on the brake caliper, the brake pads, and the rotor, which causes the wheel to slow down and stop.

A Few Final Words

This sums up the possible reasons why your car must have been shaking while braking downhill. It is quite clear that small and almost negligible things can cause the brake facility of the car to fail. 

Be it a new servicing or a regular check-up, never forego the chance to keep your car in its best state. Brake failures are quite common and often lead to fatal consequences. You should always trust your intuition whenever you feel an alien vibration in your car. Get it checked immediately. 

The repair costs are not that much, and if you consider the safety at stake it is bound to become an easier step to take. Keep in mind that your life and the life of others in your car are more valuable than a few dollars.

As always, thank you for reading the article.

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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