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Vibration of steering wheel

What causes the steering wheel to vibrate excessively whenever I apply the breaks? It only vibrates when i come to a complete stop. Sometimes the vibration is very intense. The car is a 2004 and has 89,000 miles on it and is also in good condition.

Warped discs. You need a brake job.

Good call. Go with mountianbike’s suggestion.

I also agree with mountainbike’s suggestion, but I have to point out that the OP’s statement of symptoms is not clear. First, the OP tells us that the problem occurs when he applies the breaks (sic), and as we know, that would indicate a warped rotor problem.

However, then the OP tells us that the steering wheel vibrates when he comes to a complete stop. A vibrating steering wheel on a car that is stopped could not have anything to do with brake rotors, and more likely has to do with a 4-cylinder engine that needs maintenance or needs to have the motor mounts replaced. Many small 4-cylinder engines produce slight steering wheel vibration when stopped, even when nothing is wrong with the engine. If there is a need for new spark plugs, the vibration could be severe.

So, as we have come to expect, the OP has not told us the make, model, or engine type of the car in question, and has not told us of the state of maintenance on this vehicle. And, the OP has posted symptoms that could represent one problem, or two problems, or…

If the OP will clarify the points that I mentioned above, he/she is more likely to get some responses that are genuinely helpful. Mountainbike’s advice, as usual, is very good, but it only applies in one set of circumstances, and the OP has muddied the waters sufficiently so that the actual circumstances are not clear to anyone who reads the original post.

The car is a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am. When I took the car to a dealership for diagnosis they told me the problem was break pads and rotors but I also had a second opinion and they said that the motor needs to be mounted. I personally think that it’s the mounts because it appears to me that the motor is whats making the steering wheel vibrate and i’ve also noticed that the vibration intensifies whenever the air conditioner is on.

Okay–little by little we are inching toward the actual situation with this car. Of course, you have still not shared with us whether this car has a 4-cylinder engine or a 6-cylinder engine, and you have also not clarified whether the vibration occurs as you are braking the car or whether it occurs when it is stationary, or whether there is vibration in both situations.

But…as I hinted at in my previous post, it is very possible that you have two problems, not one. You could well have warped brake rotors and you could also have bad motor mounts.

While it is typical for a 4-cylinder engine to produce more vibration at idle when the A/C compressor is running, it is also possible that the vibration is more excessive than is usually found with a 4-cylinder engine at idle with the A/C compressor running. Unfortunately, we cannot experience the vibration remotely in order to be able to tell whether it is excessive.

I suggest that you find out (perhaps from a third mechanic) whether you have one mechanical problem, or two. And, I would suggest that you try to give clearer, more complete descriptions of when the vibration occurs.

Warped brake rotors will cause pulsing through the brake pedal. Is that happening?

The car drives smooth even when I am applying the breaks. The problem is with the steering wheel when I come to a complete stop (like at a stop sign). I do not feel pulsing through the break petal. The car has a 4-cylinder engine. Whenever the A/C compressor is on, the steering wheel vibrates more than it would if the A/C wasnt on.

Motor mount check, no mechanic required: With hood open and observer watching for engine movement, Set Brake. Start engine and put car in drive. Hold foot brake while you gently press on the gas pedal, but give it enough to “torque up”. How much did the engine move? Now repeat in reverse. If the engine moves more than an inch in either direction, you need new motor mounts.

Pay attention to what you are doing and use normal safety precautions when doing this…


As I implied previously, your brake rotors have nothing to do with this situation, and if the dealership told you that you need rotors, then that could have resulted from miscommunication, such as in your post on this forum.

Yes, it sounds like you do need to have your motor mounts replaced. As this constitutes a potential safety hazard, you should get this car to a qualified mechanic a.s.a.p.

Then again, perhaps the motor mounts are actually okay, and you only need to have spark plugs or some other maintenance items replaced, but only a good mechanic can determine what the exact problem may be. Be sure to try to communicate the problem clearly when speaking with the mechanic, in order to avoid any more bad diagnoses, like the brake rotors.

It’s amazing how you can answer a question when you get ALL the information.

I agree it sounds like Motor Mounts. NOT brake rotors. But from the original post I would swear it was rotors.

To the OP…Please supply ALL the information up front. You’ll get your answer a LOT sooner.

Mike–I think that your expectations are not realistic.

Do you really expect people to provide complete and accurate information on symptoms when they want an answer from us? Do you really expect them to be clear and specific when providing information about their car? Those expectations are about as realistic as thinking that someone will actually reach into his glove compartment and read the Owner’s Manual!


Obviously, I am kidding, and this person could have quickly received a good answer to his question from us if he/she had only been clear in the first instance. If you noticed, it was like pulling teeth for me to get him/her to actually give us something consistent to work with.

And, I have to say that while caddyman provided good, helpful information on testing the motor mounts, I would not trust the OP to carry out this procedure safely, based on how he/she handled the simple task of clearly communicating with us. I really question whether a person who thinks that his/her car has a “break petal” is qualified to do anything under the hood of the car. Maybe in a florist shop, but not anything having to do with cars!