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I have a Honda Civic VTI, 1997 model, automatic transmission. When I start driving my car gives a feeling that one of the front wheel is wobbling and the steering wheel receives continuous jerks. This feeling goes away when I increase the speed.

Is it a wheel alignment or balancing problem?

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Any chance this might be related to the noise in steering? mechanics.stackexchange.com/questions/129/… –  Iszi Mar 8 '11 at 8:13
    
@Iszi Could be. I would clear the front wheel from the ground and then check that the bearings between the "steering rod" (don't know what this is called) and the wheel base is OK (i.e., tight, with no clearance). –  jensgram Mar 8 '11 at 8:21
    
"Steering rod" = "steering arm", "wheel base" ~= "steering knuckle". :) –  jensgram Mar 8 '11 at 8:43
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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I would say that it is most likely a balancing issue. In order to find out, I would:

  1. Use the car's jack to clear each front wheel from the ground. Give the wheel a spin and check to see that the spinning tire does not vibrate (sideways and/or up-and-down). This could indicate a damaged rim or a damaged tire.
  2. If pt. 1 does not give any indication, unmount the tire and get it balanced. You may have the equipment to do this yourself — if not, consult your regular mechanic.
  3. If neither solves the issue I'd say that a more comprehensive inspection is needed. You mechanic should be able to help you out here.

(Pardon my French. I'm pretty sure that I've used some non-English terms and translations in the above.)

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It was a balancing issue. –  Imran S. Mar 9 '11 at 7:58
    
@Imran S. Great. That's typically the case. I only put pt. 1 on top because it is the easiest (only?) thing to inspect by eyesight alone :) –  jensgram Mar 9 '11 at 9:18
    
Actually, it all looks English to me. No French there, unless it is one of those shared words like Okay. –  musicwithoutpaper Feb 10 '13 at 2:11
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Double check that the lugs are tight. If the lugs aren't tightened enough, the wheel might have a slight amount of slop and will vibrate. Obviously this is a very dangerous situation.

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I had this same problem. In my case it was a warped brake disc. You can see if it's the same in your case by seeing how hot your brake disc is after driving. Don't driving any more than you have to though, because you may damage the calipers. If it's the same problem then change the brake disc as soon as you can.

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Also worth noting: Don't just change the brake disc, try to find out what caused it to warp. It could be a stuck calliper, for instance (brakes always a bit on; disc heats up; when you stop it cools unevenly; it warps). If you don't remove the cause of your problem, you will end up with another warped disc in no time. And depending on the model, they can be pretty expensive. Especially considering that it usually is a bad idea to change only one of them. If done properly, both discs should be changed along with all break pads. So make sure that you find out WHY it happened. –  Slink84 Mar 8 '11 at 12:28
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