Yesterday, I was driving home in a storm and I ended up hydroplaning. My car, Hyundai Elantra Coupe 2014, spun a 360 landing me in the dirt on the side of the road. Luckily, no one was driving by me and no curbs were hit. Besides some dirt on the tires, no visible damage was done. Driving to work today, My steering wheel started shaking around 60 MPH. Does anyone know what the problem could be or have some ideas on how much it may cost to fix before I take it to a mechanic today?
You stated you had dirt in your wheels from the incident. Two things could be happening to you:
- You still have dirt in one or more of your wheels causing an imbalance. A simple scrub will take care of the issue.
- You threw one or more of your wheel weights. These are the things which keep the wheel/tire from vibrating. You'd need to take it to a tire shop to get it rebalanced. Your mechanic should be able to do this for you as well.
Even though you state that no curb was hit, it could be that you still hit something small while sliding and that could have affected the alignment of the wheels. Or if there really was no obstacle hit, simply switching from the road to dirt at an angle could have been a shock to the wheels.
Happened to me once to hydroplane at ~30km/h and hit a side curve and that completely destroyed my wheels' positions (even had to change some parts). The shock felt in the car at that speed was almost nothing, and the visible damage was again very small, but the shock to the wheels was very high, so that is why I would recommend to check your alignment even if you didn't feel anything inside the car.
Of course, along with this you should have a mechanic take an overall look and also re-balance your wheels as Paulster2 suggested.
Separately, you should take a moment to consider why you hydroplaned. Were you speeding, are your tires in good condition, were they properly inflated, etc.
Sliding sideways into the dirt on the shoulder could cause a bent rim. I would have suspected you would be more likely to feel that at about 45mph but if the bend is relatively light, this could be the cause. Taking the car in for re-balancing would likely find the problem quickly.
If it is occurring at only a certain speed range it is most likely a wheel out of balance but could also be belt separation. If you take your vehicle to the location you got the tires many will do balancing for free. If the belts have separated they will know in the spin balance and tell you you need a new tire.
Steering wheel vibration is caused by many things like brakes, suspension, but i think in your case its certainly your tires. Now 2 things could be happening. A) tires were deformed by the dirt while your car was stopping or B) tires become unbalanced.
Quoting Wikipedia on Tire Balance:
When the wheel rotates, asymmetries of mass may cause it to hop or wobble, which can cause ride disturbances, usually vertical and lateral vibrations. It can also result in a wobbling of the steering wheel or of the entire vehicle. The ride disturbance, due to unbalance, usually increases with speed. Vehicle suspensions can become excited by unbalance forces when the speed of the wheel reaches a point that its rotating frequency equals the suspension’s resonant frequency.
Possible underlying problem, i.e, wheel bearings, tie rod ends, sloppy rack and pinion. Best to let your mechanic do an inspection for you. Don't agree with dirt or mud if it wasn't vibration before then. Possible weights which was said. At 60mph keep that speed while putting your car into either a higher gear (if available) or a lower gear, keep at 60 mph, if it goes away or changes it will be engine or trans/drivetrain associated problem.
I had a situation where I intended to turn right but the snow packed road caused my care to continue straight ahead until the tire 'caught' a dry patch, thus causing the car to jerk to the right. No apparent troubles, but I did hear a 'click' when the tire hit the dry patch. I was able to complete the turn and proceed along my merry way. In the succeeding days a low volume rumble grew louder to the point I felt the rubbing in the steering wheel. I figured i may have broke a wheel bearing, a somewhat expensive fix. Actually I'd mucked something up inside the transaxle, a very expensive fix!. I scrapped the car. Lesson: you don't have to hit anything to seriously destroy a car.