How to Troubleshoot a Car that Nose Dives When Braking

If you are experiencing a nose dive condition with your vehicle, your intuition may tell you to look for an issue with the braking system, when the problem is more likely in the suspension. Any vehicle will nose dive under heavy braking, to a certain extent and the cause of this is called weight transfer.

As you apply brakes while in motion, weight is transferred to the front of the vehicle which forces the front shocks to compress. The same amount of weight transfers away from the rear of the vehicle, which causes the rear struts to expand. The compression of the front shocks lowers the front of the vehicle and the expansion of the rear struts raises the rear. The harder you brake, the more defined this effect becomes.

If you are experiencing more nose diving than normal, you may have a suspension issue.

Part 1 of 2: Visually inspecting the brakes

Materials Needed

  • Gloves
  • Jack
  • Jack Stands
  • Tire Iron

Step 1: Loosen front lugs nuts on the front tires. Use the tire iron to loosen your lug nuts on both front tires.

If you do not perform this step first, you will not be able to loosen the lug nuts (also called wheel locks) with the car in the air. The tires will spin and you will have to put the car back down.

  • Tip: Do not remove the lug nuts - only break them loose. You should not have to loosen them more than a half to one full turn.

Step 2: Get the front of the vehicle in the air. On a flat surface, use whatever type of jack you have available to raise the front of the vehicle.

If you cannot find a suitable location under the front bumper, you can jack each side up, one at a time.

  • Tip: You only need to raise the vehicle high enough to take the front tires off. Do not raise the vehicle higher than necessary.

Step 3: Place jack stands under the vehicle. With the vehicle in the air, place jack stands under the vehicle in a location that will leave the suspension free to travel.

Under a subframe, or on the sides of the vehicle are suitable locations. Consult with your owner’s manual for your tire changing procedure if you are unsure where to place stands

Step 4: Remove tires and inspect. Use the tire iron to remove the loosened lug nuts and set the tire off to the side.

Inspect the spring and visually confirm it is not broken. Look for cracks or dents, rust or corrosion. Feel around the piston rod for oil. Finding oil on the piston rod is a sign of a worn out seal.

star pattern for lug nuts

Step 5: Reverse the procedure and return the vehicle to the ground. Replace the tires, and tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern until the tire begins to turn.

Use the jack to raise the vehicle just enough to remove the jack-stands, and remove the jack stands from under the car.

Lower the vehicle to the ground, and finish tightening the lug nuts. It is important to remember to finish tightening the lug nuts, while the car is on the ground, so the tire won’t spin freely.

Part 2 of 2: Testing the shocks and struts

If you found oil on the shocks in previous steps, chances are very high you need to replace them, but you can try a couple other methods to confirm.

bounce test

Method 1: Do a bounce test. This is a classic method that involves placing your hands on the hood, fender, or trunk of the car and using the weight of your body to “bounce” the vehicle.

This is not the best method of testing because an inexperienced person will find it challenging to tell what is good or bad. The idea is to feel for a bounce back. A good shock will be hard to compress, where a blown shock or strut will feel “spongy.”

Method 2: Do a road test Drive the vehicle over a speed bump and feel for anything that you might categorize as bouncy or spongy. If you feel excessive body roll while cornering, this is also a sign of worn out shocks and struts.

If you are unable to troubleshoot your vehicle’s nosedive condition, contact a professional mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, to diagnose why your car nose dives for you.


Next Step

Schedule Car nose dives when braking Inspection

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Car nose dives when braking Inspection. Once the problem has been diagnosed, you will be provided with an upfront quote for the recommended fix and receive $20.00 off as a credit towards the repair. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Car nose dives when braking Inspection reviews

Excellent Rating

(149,537)

Rating Summary
140,027
5,194
1,055
749
2,512
140,027
5,194
1,055
749
2,512

Fred

17 years of experience
389 reviews
Fred
17 years of experience
Infiniti M37 - Car nose dives when braking - Spring, Texas
Fred is a great mechanic. Very knowledgeable and explains things thoroughly. Every time I use YourMechanic I will request Fred.

Richard

16 years of experience
77 reviews
Richard
16 years of experience
Ford Edge - Car nose dives when braking - San Diego, California
Richard was about 30 minute early which was perfect for me. He was honest that we didn't need a brake pad replacement and was able to help me diagnose what the real problem was. Highly recommended!

Nikolay

20 years of experience
62 reviews
Nikolay
20 years of experience
Dodge Nitro - Car nose dives when braking - Poway, California
Nikolay is awesome! Very thorough and efficient!

Julio

15 years of experience
77 reviews
Julio
15 years of experience
Hyundai Accent - Noise from engine or exhaust - Houston, Texas

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

Can I Safely Add Camber to My Wheels?
It’s It’s increasingly common to see “tuner” cars (or less commonly, pickup trucks) with extreme camber settings — in other words, with wheels and tires that are noticeably tilted relative to vertical. Some owners may wonder whether changing their camber...
Why Do Brake Rotors Warp?
Brake rotors are the large metal discs visible behind the wheels of a car. These spin along with the wheels so...
What Is the Difference Between Sprung Weight and Unsprung Weight?
Car Car aficionados, particularly those involved with racing, sometimes talk about “sprung” and “unsprung” weight (or mass). What do these terms mean? The spring is the suspension component that holds the vehicle up and cushions it and its occupants and...

Related questions

I'm planning on buying an 1987 dodge truck as a first vehicle but I'd like to know what are the first things I should replace?

Hello, thank you for writing in. 1987 truck's by Dodge were enjoyed for decades. The truck you are looking at is going to need components specific to the condition the truck is in. If you have not already, obtain a...

Tips for maintaining my Honda after 100,000 miles?

The best recommendation I can give to any car owner is follow the manufacturer's maintenance schedule. The 100,000-mile service typically includes inspecting and, if necessary, replacing the fluids in your transmission, hydraulic brake system, and cooling system. Engine and cabin...

What Are Sprung And Unsprung Weight And Why Do They Matter?

The part of a car or truck that is supported by springs is the sprung weight (or sprung mass); the part that isn’t is called the unsprung weight. Everything attached solidly to the body is sprung while everything that moves...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com