I have a 2001 Honda Prelude SH with about 180,000 miles on it.
For the past 12-18 months, I've noticed consistent strange behavior:
- Very prone to skidding when braking on uneven roads.
- Much earlier loss of traction when cornering.
- When I hit slightly rough patches of road, especially when braking or cornering, it kind of feels like the car "skips" a little. I can't explain it, but e.g if I'm making a turn on a highway and hit a seam in the road, I get the sensation of bouncing to the outside slightly (it doesn't feel like understeering, it feels... weird and slightly out of control).
- Very prone to laying tire when getting started or upshifting at slow speeds (< 20 mph). (Highly unusual for this car)
- I think I feel smaller bumps in the road a bit more, especially regular ridges from the way the roads are constructed. But I can't tell if this is in my head or not. Also I moved about 2 years ago and regularly drive on a different set of highways now, so it could just be that the roads here are particularly uneven.
- My steering wheel is about 3-4 degrees right to keep the car straight. It's stable here, it doesn't pull. I don't know if this indicates a problem though.
The behaviors have slowly been getting worse.
Now, I don't keep the car in the greatest shape mostly because I do a lot of city driving and the roads around here are pretty rough, so I can't usually justify it.
But it's starting to become a problem. I'm going to take it to a shop. But I don't want to spend money going down the wrong path. So my question is: What are the most likely causes of this that I can check out first?
From my research, I have at least a partial list, although I'm not sure which matches the symptoms the closest, or what I'm missing. So far I've got:
- Damaged suspension linkage components (after writing this I discovered a slightly bent control arm in the front left, which is also throwing out the alignment).
- Alignment (it's been a while, and the car's been on a lot of rough roads)
- Worn shocks (all the suspension components are still the originals w/ 180k miles)
- Tire wear (but I did get a brand new set of tires about a year ago and I don't remember it helping much; right now I have three of those plus one random used one)
- Damaged or worn out sway bar (I'll have to take it apart to check).
- ATTS malfunction (it would have to be something the computer isn't detecting, I'm not seeing any errors).
- Engine / gearbox mount failure, causing weight shifts and unpredictable behavior.
- Something with the brakes? Like pressure or alignment problems? Can that happen? (My pads / rotors / calipers are in good shape) ABS problems? (the skidding isn't only when braking though, and I have no error indicators, and it doesn't feel like ABS issues anyways)
- Wheel balance (shouldn't be causing the problems I'm seeing)
It's also possible that there's more than one thing going on at the same time contributing to this.
Extra random info in responses to comments:
- Does not make noise over bumps.
- No brake wobble.
- "Skipping" generally settles immediately upon returning to a better road surface.
- No problems with tight U-turns.
- While steering wheel is off by a couple degrees, the steering itself is still super tight, no problems there.
- There are no error codes, and no dash warning indicators are lit.
- Still has the original sway bar (all suspension and linkage components are still the originals except the front left half shaft, which is about 2 and a half years old).