Is it safe to drive with a shaking steering wheel? This is the first question that comes to mind when this problem appears.
A shaking steering wheel is a red alert that something is wrong with the steering system, suspension tires, or other systems that are crucial for safe driving.
In this article, you’ll hopefully find some information that will help you make the right decision if you find yourself in a situation like this.
If you want to read more about the shaking steering wheel problem and the most common reasons for it, click here to read our article on that topic.
For other useful video tutorials regarding car topics, visit our YouTube channel.
IS IT SAFE TO DRIVE WITH A SHAKING STEERING WHEEL?
As with most cars problems, the answer to this question is not definitive. It all depends essentially on how serious the shaking is.
There’s a big difference between a small shake accompanied by some minor vibrations of the steering wheel and strong, violent shakes and jitters that are almost uncontrollable.
To be more clear, we’ll try to put this into categories:
- Minor shaking and vibrations of the steering wheel
The generally accepted rule (and also logical) is when there’s minor shaking with small vibrations you can continue driving. Especially if the car is stable on the road. In this case, the steering wheel moves from side to side only a couple of millimeters.
- Medium shaking and vibrations
A bit stronger shaking with perhaps some more vibration but the car can still be controlled means you can continue driving but with much more caution and less speed. The steering wheel may still move only a couple of millimeters from side to side.
- Strong shaking and vibrations, perhaps accompanied by various sounds
In this case, the steering wheel violently jolts from side to side, is nearly uncontrollable and the car is all over the road.
Also, you might hear a humming, scraping, thumping or other unusual sounds coming from the engine, undercarriage, or else.
In this case, best don’t drive any further and pull to the side of the road as soon as possible. Even if you don’t have much more to drive, pull over as the problem, in this phase is likely very serious.
But in order to get the complete picture of this subject, please read the next part of the article.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN THE STEERING WHEEL SHAKES?
The answer to the question of whether it’s safe to drive with a shaking steering wheel can’t be properly answered without knowing what to do once it starts.
Let’s say the problem starts while driving (which is the most common scenario). So everything is fine and all of a sudden the steering wheel starts shaking. Here are a couple of tips:
- Don’t panic
Especially if the shaking isn’t serious. Even if it is, focus on controlling the car. Panicking will only make the problem worse and put you in danger
- Pullover to the side of the road
If possible find a place where you can get help, a towing service, check the tire pressure, or else. A gas station is a good option.
- Make a brief inspection
Go around the car and check all the wheels. This may not help but it’s the least you can do. Check the tires and look under the car at the front undercarriage. Take a look at the inner side of the tires, the side facing the wheel arch. Try to spot any anomalies that may lead to finding the problem. Especially do this if you’ve recently hit a pothole for instance.
If you have the means, check the tire lug nuts also if they are properly tightened.
One more thing that can happen, although rarely is if you’ve driven on country roads for instance, and something got stuck in the undercarriage.
To conclude on the matter of is it safe to drive with a shaking steering wheel.
Know that this article has the main purpose of keeping you safe on the road and is a proposition of how to do so. Also, this information comes from personal experience.
The truth of the matter is that once the steering wheel starts to shake after you pull over and make the inspection, the decision is on you.
If you know your way around cars (meaning you can make a fair judgment)and the shaking isn’t that serious, you can probably continue driving but do so with extreme caution. Best drive at lower speeds and find help as soon as possible.
Sometimes this will be the only option (like when this happens on remote roads).
But even if this is the case, don’t do it if there’s strong shaking and vibrations. Know, in that case, that the problem can get worse real quick.
By far, the best and safest solution is to call the road service and tow the car to a garage. Especially do this if the shaking is serious and the car tends to get out of control. Driving, in this case, is not an option.
In the garage, they will probably make a complete inspection of all the systems, solve the problem and you can continue driving safely.
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author for Despairrepair.com