Steering wheel shake when braking

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Is the most likely culprit uneven/warped rotors? Other than that, what else causes steering wheel shake when braking, but not otherwise? I can feel vibration through the brake pedal as well. Same issue observed on two different sets of wheels/tires. FYI, this is on my 530i. Front brakes are pretty old (last replaced 12 years and 70K miles ago), but look fine to the naked eye, other than some surface rust. I am leaning toward getting new brakes first and seeing if that fixes it. But in case it doesn't, what else should be looked at?
 
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If you can feel the brake pedal "pulsing" while trying to stop, then warped rotors may be the likely culprit. Do you notice odd grinding or scraping sounds while braking?
 
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NJ
You could pull the pads and rgrease the rails and pins. This also gives you a better look at the pads before you start replacing parts.
 
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South Central PA
Originally Posted by Quattro Pete
Is the most likely culprit uneven/warped rotors? Other than that, what else causes steering wheel shake when braking, but not otherwise? I can feel vibration through the brake pedal as well. Same issue observed on two different sets of wheels/tires. FYI, this is on my 530i. Front brakes are pretty old (last replaced 12 years and 70K miles ago), but look fine to the naked eye, other than some surface rust. I am leaning toward getting new brakes first and seeing if that fixes it. But in case it doesn't, what else should be looked at?
I had that issue on my e60, a 2004 530i, a couple years ago. The steering wheel shake was most noticeable when braking at high speed or with higher pedal force. I thought it was the front rotors, but it wound up being the front lower control arm bushings.
 
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Quattro Pete

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Originally Posted by Vaca
I had that issue on my e60, a 2004 530i, a couple years ago. The steering wheel shake was most noticeable when braking at high speed or with higher pedal force.
In my case, the shake is more noticeable when applying lighter pedal force. When braking hard, it's less noticeable.
 

Quattro Pete

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Originally Posted by Rand
could be pad deposits on the rotors.
If that's the case, would a number of subsequent hard braking sessions help remove them, or am I still looking at needing new rotors/pads?
 
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South Central PA
Originally Posted by Quattro Pete
Originally Posted by Vaca
I had that issue on my e60, a 2004 530i, a couple years ago. The steering wheel shake was most noticeable when braking at high speed or with higher pedal force.
In my case, the shake is more noticeable when applying lighter pedal force. When braking hard, it's less noticeable.
That sounds a bit different than the issue with my car. Still, it might be that bushing, or maybe another bushing in the front suspension. Usually bad rotors would be felt at least a little in the brake pedal, possibly along with a steering wheel shimmy. Sounds like your plan to do the brakes and then see what the car feels like is a good one. I'd certainly inspect the bushings while you're in there too.
 
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When the wheel lug nuts are torqued unevenly then the rotor can run out slightly. I always retorque (with a torque wrench) mine when tires are replaced or rotated. This prevents rotor run out that over time causes brake shutter especially at highway speeds. Generally the rotor and pads need to be replaced as the rotor wears un evenly
 
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Latham, New York
Originally Posted by Quattro Pete
Originally Posted by Rand
could be pad deposits on the rotors.
If that's the case, would a number of subsequent hard braking sessions help remove them, or am I still looking at needing new rotors/pads?
Medium brake dragging probably will clean the deposits off. Hard braking just adds to the deposits. If they clean off then you need to find pads that don't deposit on the rotors. (been there, done that)
 

Quattro Pete

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Originally Posted by jeepman3071
If you replace the brakes and it doesn't fix it, then it is likely front control arm bushings or another front suspension component.
One thing the shop noted the last time I was there about 6 months ago was that "Front shock bump stops are deteriorating." Would that have anything to do with what I'm experiencing?
 

Quattro Pete

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Originally Posted by PimTac
Did this start happening suddenly or has it been ongoing and getting worse?
It's probably now been about a year - I don't put on many miles in this car. I don't think it's been getting worse.
 
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👍🏻 Probably rotors but a full examination is needed to fill out other issues.
 
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NH
Originally Posted by Quattro Pete
Originally Posted by Vaca
I had that issue on my e60, a 2004 530i, a couple years ago. The steering wheel shake was most noticeable when braking at high speed or with higher pedal force.
In my case, the shake is more noticeable when applying lighter pedal force. When braking hard, it's less noticeable.
I'm pretty sure I've had that a time or two. Zero idea what I did to fix though... probably I just ignored and it'd get better with new rotors, that is probably what happened. Maybe the inner pad is free to move, and hits first: but with enough braking force, the outer pad finally moves and some dampening is introduced? Maybe the pins are just not quite as free as required (along with some deposits and/or warp). When was the last time you busted it all apart and checked to make sure all is free?
 
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Connecticut
Originally Posted by Quattro Pete
Originally Posted by jeepman3071
If you replace the brakes and it doesn't fix it, then it is likely front control arm bushings or another front suspension component.
One thing the shop noted the last time I was there about 6 months ago was that "Front shock bump stops are deteriorating." Would that have anything to do with what I'm experiencing?
Nope, those just control how far the shock can travel. Sometimes you can determine if the control arm bushing are bad by turning the wheel all the way out, then using your foot to quickly push on the tire backward to see if it moves. If there is a lot of movement, the bushings are bad. The exact symptoms you describe were on a friend's E90. Replaced the lower front control arms from FCP Euro and the car is like new again.
 
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