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6 Reasons Why Cars Shake At 60 mph or Higher Speeds

It’s worrying when your car shakes, especially at high speeds. There are six main reasons why this happens. Let’s explore the four cheap fixes and, I’m afraid, two more expensive reasons why your car shakes over 60 mph.

Briefly, though, the reasons are:

  1. Unbalanced Tires
  2. Loose Lug Nuts
  3. Wheel Bearings
  4. Tire Rod Ends
  5. Motor Mounts
  6. Driveshaft

Okay, let’s get into the detail

Unbalanced Tires

Have you ever noticed the small silver-looking weights on your wheels?

These weights were placed on your tires to balance the tire’s weight when you had your tires replaced.

They can sometimes fall off and cause your tire to become unbalanced. The slightest imbalance can be amplified at speed, and the shaking can become really bad once you get to 60mph or more. You’ll feel it through your steering wheel as a vibration.

It may be difficult to determine if this has occurred as not all wheels have the same weights. However, you can look for a cleaner area on the wheel that may until recently had a weight fitted to it. If you see a cleaner place, there was probably a weight there until recently.

car tire balancing over 60 mph

Rebalancing tires is a cheap and easy fix that will cost between $25-50.

The difference between wheel alignment and tire balancing

Loose Lug Nuts

Having a loose lug nut happens more than you’d think. It can also be very dangerous, especially if the wheel comes loose at high speed.

If you’ve recently had a tire replaced, it could be the mechanic didn’t tighten the lug enough when the wheel was put back on the car, although this is unlikely. Mistakes can happen; we’re all human. 

A section on the receipt usually tells you to check your lugs after 100 miles of driving.

Get your lug wrench from the trunk, go around the car, and test out all the lugs.

Most cars have four per wheel, but some bigger cars have five. If you cannot tighten or check your lugs, call the car shop that replaced the tire and ask them to come out and fix it.

Tighten lug nuts to prevent high speed car shaking

Even if you haven’t had a tire replaced, lugs can work loose, so it’s the first check you should do. 

You’ll notice a shaking steering wheel when your lug nuts are loose.

Wheel Bearings

After checking for a possible loose lug and a lost weight, you may feel that you’d rather go to a mechanic because the following reasons will involve either jacking the car or getting under it. I know that’s not what everyone wants to do.

So to check for wheel bearing problems once you’ve raised the car. 

  • At 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock, hold the wheel with both hands. Push the wheel towards the car and then pull it away several times. The wheel should not move as you do this. 
  • Place your hands at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, and then repeat the push-pull motion.

Now, check all four wheels. 

https://youtu.be/197yHCBg9JE?t=22

Any play or movement indicates a problem with the wheel bearings. 

You may also hear a grinding sound when you spin the tire. The steering wheel will also shake as you accelerate and over 60 mph.

Costs of replacing wheel bearings include labor and are between $250-$400

Tie Rod Ends

Your either have to take the wheel off or lift the car to get to the tire rods. 

The tie rod ends, which are extensions of the steering rack and, like wheel bearings, should have minimal play. 

Each wheel has two tie rods; if worn, loose, or leaking, they will vibrate at high speeds. 

The shaking can become much more noticeable as you get up to around 50-60 mph.

Heavy SUVs tend to have more failures than lighter vehicles, mainly if they are driven off-road.

To have a tie rod end-repaired or replaced, expect to pay between $225 and $350, including the cost of labor.

Motor Mounts

The motor mounts, also known as engine mounts, hold the engine to the chassis. Any weakening could cause shaking, especially when you reach higher speeds.

Most cars have three to four mounts that are located on each side of the engine. These mounts rarely fail, but it is possible to check visually to make sure. 

Often they have a silicon fluid within them that can leak easily. If this happens, the rubber membrane may appear shiny and damp.

https://youtu.be/lKV2uo3tlx0?t=6

You should not put off this problem because the shaking will only get worse over time. If it is not addressed, it can cause damage to other components like the transmission or cooling system.

To replace engine mounts, it costs $200-$400 plus labor.

Driveshaft

The engine’s power is sent to the driveshaft, which in turn causes the wheels to turn.

If you want more acceleration, the drive shaft turns faster to allow this. 

If the driveshaft is not tight, you’ll feel more vibrations as you move through your gears. Once you get to 60 mph or higher, you’ll notice the vibrations and a lot more shaking.

The problem is usually not the driveshaft but the U joints that connect it to the engine. You can tell if movement is within it if you want to get underneath your car. 

Even if you see the Universal joint is loose, you’ll need a special tool to replace it.

They only cost $50, but for many, the thought of getting under the car and possible transmission fluid leaks makes them want to decide to get a professional to replace it.

The cost of a universal joint replacement including labor will be between $250-$350

In conclusion

The reason your car is only vibrating when you get to a higher speed is probably tire or wheel related but not always. Other causes are engine mounts, bad wheel bearings, tie rod ends, or a failing driveshaft.

The good news is that these fixes are cheap, ranging from nothing to tighten a lug to a few hundred dollars for new wheel bearings. These are quick fixes.

Even motor mount and driveshaft repairs aren’t too costly, although you may be without your vehicle for longer with these two repairs.

If your car is shaking when you accelerate, read our Guide to Car Jerking Under Acceleration.

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