At low speeds, a car shaking may not pose a big danger to yourself or other road users, but it will definitely reduce the ride quality. It will also increase wear and tear, significantly reducing the shelf life of your car. Over time, this can be a major source of financial woes. At high speeds, the shaking may be canceled out but that does not mean the problem is minor.
Some reasons for a car to shake at low speeds and not high may be:
1. Have the engine mounts checked?
By the very nature of the machine, an engine shakes. Engine mounts, when working properly, prevent the transfer of these vibrations to the car chassis itself. When worn out or poorly calibrated, engine mounts may cause the car to shake from the time the engine is started. This source of shaking, however, can only be diagnosed accurately by a professional mechanic. It requires a thorough examination of the engine which calls for technical expertise. Engine mount replacement should only be done by a certified technician from a trusted auto shop. Constant vigilance and making sure you stick to regular services can identify faulty engine mounts early.
2. Check the tires and rims.
At low speeds or any speeds really, the tires can be the cause of any shaking. Worn out tires are very easy to diagnose at home. All it takes is a good hand and good eyesight. Be careful of the condition of the tires to avoid injury from inlaid tire wires. There are two types of tire wear that can be identified in this manner, flat spots, and cupping. Flat spots are where the tread is selectively worn out and cupping is the indentation in the tire surface. This takes a few minutes and can save you a pricey trip to the mechanic. Another reason tires cause shaking is poor balancing. This makes the ride uneven and even at low speeds, it will cause shaking. Poor alignment can also cause shaking at all speeds.
All three of these tire issues can be easily rectified by buying good quality tires and constant maintenance. You may also consider a shift to tubeless tires that have less tendency to wear and tear. Attend scheduled services as required and make sure you get the best mechanics to work on your car.
The rims work in tandem with the tires and may cause shaking. This shaking can be wrongly misdiagnosed if you are not careful. This means you should not focus on the tire as only the rubber or the tubing but as a whole unit. The rim should be checked for irregularities such as dents. The rims should also be highly compatible with tire type. Identifying the rim as the culprit can save you a lot of grief as poor quality rims may ruin your tires in the long run.
3. Check the suspension.
A vehicle’s suspension largely determines the quality of the ride. That said, issues with suspension can cause shaking at any speeds. Worn bearings can also contribute to poor performance and lead to shaking at low speeds. Suspension mounts and bushes should also be regularly checked and replaced as need arises. The suspension train should be regularly vetted by a professional and replacement parts provided as required. This can save you a lot of time and grief in the long run. The suspension should also be precisely calibrated so that it is neither too rigid nor too soft.
An easy way to identify the suspension as the culprit is to determine whether shaking starts after hitting an obstacle such as a pothole. A poor suspension will retain the kinetic energy from any jolt until you take corrective measures. These can either be slowing down or coming to a complete halt. At higher speeds, you ideally should not be hitting any obstacles and thus the shaking will not be present.
4. Check the transmission.
All parts of the transmission train work from the moment a car starts moving and they keep on working until the car comes to a halt. The cessation of the car’s shaking at high speeds could disqualify the transmission train from being the culprit for shaking at low speeds but not entirely. At higher speeds, a small fault in the transmission train can be overcome by exertion. The disadvantage of a proper diagnosis to determine the transmission is at fault is that it is a lengthy process. It can be both laborious and expensive. As such, it should only be evaluated by a trusted professional and should not anyone without a proven track record. Another disadvantage is that if you let the problem stay, it will lead to associated issues that may cost you more over the long run.
5. Check the propeller shaft.
This is mostly for rear wheel vehicles. A bad propeller shaft will interfere with the transmission of power from the back tires. This means that at any speeds, the car will shake. The shaking will be more prevalent at lower speeds before the streamlining effect of high speeds mutes it.
In conclusion, when your car shakes at lower speeds the most likely culprits are the engine mounts, transmission train, propeller shaft or the tires. If you eliminate those, you can then look at the other possible issues. The easiest way to avoid most of these headaches is to ensure that you regularly service your car. The choice of auto shop you use is also crucial because you do not want poor quality work that has to be repeated. You will also want premium high-quality parts that are durable and offer good value for money. Some repairs are also very delicate and a poorly skilled mechanic will do more harm than good.
Unless you have the expertise, be careful what you choose to repair at home. Basic fixes such as tire changes can be easily done but more technical issues should not be attempted.