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the steering wheel sometimes shakes at high speeds around 70 miles per hour. It does not always happen. Some day when I am driving at 70, I feel no shakes. some day it shakes badly at the same speed. Also, if I drive slower or faster a speed range (usually between 68 and 75), it never shakes.

I did the following, but still the wheel shakes sometimes:

  1. I had the left wheel bearing replaced a month ago. The mechanic told me it needs to be replaced.
  2. Tires are fine (not perfect, but not bad either). I had them rotated a month ago.
  3. I had the front rotars and pads replaced a month ago. When I brake, it does NOT shake.

This shaking wheel problem has been around for quite some time (almost two years). What service does the car need?

Update: I had the tires balanced, and it is a little bit better now. It is not perfect yet. I was told that the tires are kinda cheap, low quality tires that are not perfectly round.

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This sounds like a resonance problem that is being aggravated by out of round tires. The following questions might serve as helpful references: mechanics.stackexchange.com/q/3901/57, mechanics.stackexchange.com/q/769/57 and mechanics.stackexchange.com/q/3797/57 –  Bob Cross Jul 31 '13 at 3:37
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4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Issues involving steering wheel vibrations problems usually are most noticeable at one or two narrow speed ranges (5-10mph and 60-70mph), and will decrease significantly, and in some cases, even disappear outside of these ranges. The amount of vibration caused by worn tires will often be seen over a broader speed range if the tire is worn more. The severity of the vibration is directly related to the vehicles speed. Also, the speed range at which the vibration is felt is also directly related to the amount of wear the tires have endured. At low speeds sometimes a "wobbles" can be felt. These are mostly caused by bent wheels, tires with shifted belts (also referred to as "runout"), and suspension/alignment issues.

  • Tire or Wheel

    • Quality
      • A quick indication of either a poor quality wheel or tire is usually seen by the use of a lot of weights used when balancing the wheel/tire combination. When using a higher end tire on a "straight" wheel you should need somewhere around .5oz of weight per wheel. Tires of inferior quality are often seen with weaker tread layers and belt seating. and may simply just be out of round.
    • Damage
      • Broken Belt
        • When a belt is broken inside of a tire it will cause the tire to "bounce" since it is unable to keep it's form. Think of a tire without a broken belt as a baseball, and the tire with a broken belt as a stress ball. Below is an image of a tire with a broken belt. You can see the bottom of the tread is 100% worn while the top of the tire still has tread left. This was caused by the "bouncing" condition. enter image description here
      • Slipped Belt
        • With a slipped belt in a tire it will cause the tire to "wobble" and the steering wheel to shake. Here is a image of a severely slipped belt. beltslip
  • Wheel Balance (out of round, bent, excessive wear, uneven tread, etc)

    • Usually, neither tires nor wheels are perfect. This is the reason why wheels are balanced whenever tires are replaced and then, rebalanced periodically as they wear. Driving with unbalanced wheels long enough can and will cause flat spots in the tire, which will then always vibrate. Performing a static balance is just not good enough. Balance should always be checked at driving speeds this is known as dynamic balancing. The wheels are removed from the vehicle and one by one put on a Balancing Machine where the mechanic will enter in the appropriate measurements and then the machine will spin the wheel and printout location and amount of weight needed in order to properly balance the wheel. Also, if the wrong type of weights for your wheel type are used, they are likely to come off, giving you an instant balance problem. Read more: http://mbworld.org/forums/wheels-tires-suspension-brakes-forum-sponsored-tire-rack/111691-causes-wheel-vibration.html#ixzz2agpFwcz5
  • Suspension & Alignment

    • Suspension
      • Excessively worn suspension components will cause effect the way in which the tire contacts the road. This is due to the fact that if any component (ball-joint, tie-rod, wheel bearing, etc) has excessive play it makes the position because it may make maintaining proper alignment impossible. It may also cause other problems not related to wheel balance and wear.
    • Alignment
      • Maladjusted Camber will not directly cause a vibration, but it can cause uneven and/or rapid tire wear. In turn effect the balance/smoothness of a tires rotation. A lot of mechanics will insist that an improper toe adjustment will not be the cause of a steering wheel vibration, but I remain skeptical. Even if I'm wrong it will still certainly causes rapid and uneven tire wear. Caster has no effect on tire wear but it will effect steering wheel's ability to return after making a turn. Bad alignment is the cause of many tread wear problems that will create vibration issues even if the wheels are perfectly balanced.
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Could you add some more words to the above? At present, this answer doesn't stand on its own. For example: which specific suspension components? Why would out of round lead to resonance at specific speeds? What would balancing improve? If you'd like to keep your answer short, links back to previous answers (and why they're important) would make this a better reference for future readers. –  Bob Cross Jul 31 '13 at 12:21
    
Much better: nice pictures, too. –  Bob Cross Aug 1 '13 at 12:08
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Just FYI: a worn wheel bearing will make an irritating high-pitched whining noise. If you ignore that, it will start making a horrible grinding noise, accompanied by a slight vibration on the steering wheel. If you don't hear anything, it's probably not the bearing.

What you can do: 1. Check for bald spots on the front wheels. 2. Have your shocks tested. Or do it yourself: press down hard on your car's hood and quickly release. If your car bounces more than once, you have worn shocks. 3. Probably not your issue, but if your control-arm has any play in it, it may also cause this behaviour. But it also causes your car to sometimes veer left or right by itself, so it's probably not that.

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Damaged tires (internal belts) or excessively worn tires are usually the main problem if your tires have been balanced properly and you have good rims. I had to replace the king pins on my 4x4 and set the alignment and replace the tires because of the uneven severe wear that was caused by the worn out king pins. The severe wear of the tires caused major shuddering at various speeds and on bumpy roads it was impossible to travel at high speed because of the shudder. Solution: Re-Alignment and new king pins and tie rod ends and tires were needed and fixed the issue. If your a mechanic it should only take you a day to do (Depending on the vehicle) if you are not sure of what you are doing take it to the shop for service.

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if its front wheel drive its probably the motor mounts most likely, if it was the tires you would always feel the vibration at any speed!

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