Low coolant levels may cause your car to shake – but you shouldn’t be confident that’s the root cause of the issue. There are one too many scenarios where something like that could happen, with low coolant being but one of them.
Let’s put it this way.
Is your car shaking from having no coolant? Probably not. If I had to guess, I’d say there’s something else going on.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Low coolant is not going to help your problem. So, if your car needs you to add more coolant to it, go right ahead.
Once that’s out of the way, take the car out for a test drive.
Is it still shaking? If that’s the case, you have a bigger problem to worry about. So, you’ll need to do an inspection yourself or get a mechanic to do it for you.
More on what could make your car shakedown below.
Then again, if it doesn’t shake anymore, you are not safe yet. If I were you, I’d still check things out to see if something is loose or worn out.
Why do I want you to check things out anyway? Because low coolant may have shined a light on an already existing problem. There’s also the chance that having low coolant damaged something – and that’s what caused your car to shake.
But that’s just me playing it extra safe, though!
There are countless reasons why a car would shake; low coolant could be the reason – or not.
Why does my car shake when I drive?
Your car could shake because of a problem with your tires, transmission, brakes, or engine. You’ll have to pay attention to when and how the shakiness happens to figure out what’s the root cause of the issue.
So, you have four possible issues. As usual, I’d recommend checking the easiest issue to spot first and work your way from there.
Because of that, I’d start with your brakes.
Does your car shake when you slow down? Do you feel the shakiness comes from the pedal and/or the steering wheel? If that’s the case, there’s something wrong with your brakes.
If that’s not the case, there’s something else you should pay attention to.
Is your car shaking when you drive – and continue to do so when you stop? That’s a dead giveaway of an engine or transmission issue.
Now, if you cannot figure out what’s wrong when you’re driving the car, it’s time to step out.
At this stage, I’m assuming your car shakes throughout the drive and stops when you’re not driving. Nine times out of ten, that’s because of your tires.
There’s nothing left to do but to inspect your tires. You’ll have to look for imperfections, check tire pressure, and do the usual routine.
If you find nothing wrong there, your car probably has a loose or worn-out suspension. There may be something else entirely causing your car to shake, but it’d be hard to tell without an inspection.
I’d highly suggest paying a visit to the repair shop to help you with that (and also to let a professional rule out any other issues.)
Is it safe to drive when your car is shaking?
It’s hard to say whether you can safely drive your car or not when it shakes. You can only determine such a thing if you know why your car is shaking – not if your car is shaking.
The best practice here would be not driving until you fix the issue, though.
I’ll use an example to better explain why shakiness isn’t enough to figure out whether you should drive or not.
In scenario number one, your car shakes because of an issue with your tires. Let’s just say there’s one of them that has low pressure, and that makes your car rattle at certain speeds.
In scenario number two, your car shakes because of an engine issue. In this scenario, the engine overheats because there’s an issue with the head gasket, and your car ends up shaking at high RPMs.
Is it safe to drive in either scenario? Well, no, not really. Are you in the same kind of danger in both? Not at all – the first one is far from dangerous!
You can drive to the mechanic in scenario number one. Or, more realistically speaking, you have to fix the air pressure and call it a day (that’s something you can do yourself).
In scenario number two, you cannot drive. You’re one unlucky day from wrecking your engine.
Because of that, it’d be better to diagnose your problem first and figure out if you can drive second.
Driving with engine issues is an absolute no-no, and so is driving with faulty brakes.
You can drive short distances with any other issues – but don’t test your luck.
What are the signs of low coolant?
While a shaking car is not a common sign of having low coolant, there are telltale signs you have to look out for. The very first thing you will notice is your dashboard light turning on, among other subtle and not-so-subtle stuff.
For example, the temperature of your engine will start to rise to levels that weren’t normal before. Without coolant, things will get hot under the hood.
Once the engine starts acting weird, you will experience poor fuel economy. Your engine will burn more gas than usual – and you will spend more money than usual too.
There are some minor things you may notice as well. The AC not working properly is one of them. A weird, sweet smell inside your car is another one.
At this point, you’re probably wondering, what does this have to do with driving a shaky car? Well, if all (or most) of these signs are present while your car shakes – it may be coolant related!
As a final note, remember not to drive around with low coolant. That’s just asking for engine trouble. Hit the store, get some new coolant, pour it into your car, and go back to normal!
If you get more coolant and the issues persist, you may have another issue altogether – and that’s when you should call a mechanic.