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I'm familiar with SE but new to the Mechanics side of the site. Anyway, I bought new wheels and tires for my 2005 Mazda 3 S hatch back in June. I upgraded the then-current "MB" brand 16" aftermarket wheels to "MB" 17" aftermarkets (since the 3 is supposed to have 17s AFIAK). The standard tire size is P205/50R17 but I bought four Barum Bravirus 3s in P225/45R17 since they were relatively inexpensive and of decent quality (according to Discount Tire). I bought both wheels and tires from Discount Tire in one fell swoop during a sale. Since I upgraded I've had constant steering wheel wobble at speeds above 60mph. Before I upgraded, I never felt any wobble, and if there was any it was indiscernible. Here's what I've done so far in attempting to solve the problem:

  1. Took the car back to Discount twice for re-balancing. Apparently the tires were incorrectly balanced the first time and that did remedy the problem a little bit, but there is still steering wheel wobble. Discount insists that the wheels are not mis-cast and that the tires are just fine.
  2. Took the car to my local, trusted mechanic for diagnosis. He replaced the left front CV axle, both front struts, and did a front-end alignment. He also said that the wheels didn't have hub rings when they should. These changes improved the car's overall ride but not the steering wheel wobble. Also, despite the alignment the car still pulls slightly to the right. (I can live with this.)
  3. Back to Discount to get the hub rings installed, which did little if anything to remedy the problem. I even let one of the Discount employees drive it on the highway and he confirmed the wobble. He recommended I upgrade to a set of Yokohama YK740 GTXs in P205/50R17. I had them rotate the tires first to see if the problem might be with a particular tire or tires. The steering wobble is different now, because sometimes it vibrates over 60mph and sometimes it doesn't. Now I'm getting consistent pulses through the gas pedal over 60mph. Have not taken the vehicle back to Discount to report this.
  4. Per Discount's request, I took the car to their recommended mechanic for a second opinion on what my mechanic did/said. He wants to replace both rear shocks and do another alignment.

I've already spent enough on this and I really don't want to pay more to replace rear shocks. I don't see how replacing the rear shocks would solve steering wheel wobble anyway. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Update: Upon doing some more highway driving, I've noticed that the steering wheel now wobbles at speeds as low as 50mph but doesn't always wobble. (Sometimes it smooths out when I decelerate, like going from 65 to 60.) However, I feel near-persistent throbbing through the gas pedal. No problems driving under 45mph.

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    Was your wheel size change strictly 16 to 17" or did you change width and offset at all? Tire and rim size changes will pass a different feel to the steering and can bring notice to parts that are borderline in operation. Did the first mechanic throughly inspect the RT. CV axle? Steering joints? Mounts? – spicetraders Sep 9 '16 at 0:46
  • Were the wheels dynamically balanced? Some places only statically balance the wheels for simplicity en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balancing_of_rotating_masses. This show OK on the balancing machine, but can vibrate on the car. – HandyHowie Sep 9 '16 at 7:16
  • @spicetraders From what I can gather, the old wheels were 7" wide with 40mm offset and the new wheels are 7" wide with 45mm offset. Yes, my first mechanic did inspect the right CV axle and said it was good. He also adjusted the motor mounts. Not sure about steering joints. – sixstring Sep 9 '16 at 12:55
  • @HandyHowie I hope they were dynamically balanced! They have dynamic imbalance listed as a tire symptom on their website: discounttire.com/dtcs/infoTireBalancing.do – sixstring Sep 9 '16 at 13:01
  • @sixstring were you able to find out the cause of the wobble?? and if so, what was the solution. my 2006 Mazda 3 is doing the exact same thing. – Baratier ErebusDuHalm May 22 '19 at 20:15
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I believe Mazdas of those years use hub centered wheels. When they added the hub-rings, did they install the correct size?

Since your car is front wheel drive, you should be able to jack up the tires (both sides) and let the care idle in gear. Any wobble in the wheel will be apparent. Your mechanic can do it for you.

Sometimes when you buy aftermarket wheels, they like to statically balance (weights only on the inside where you can see them or taped on).

As for pulling to the right. Look at the printout they give you from the alignment. If everything is in the green range, look at the castor. A little more caster on the left (giving you a cross castor) can help. If your a big guy, you can also put some weights on the driver's seat when they do the alignment. 150lbs or so. A lot of places seem to skimp on alignment. They set the toe and send you on your way. A real alignment consist of examining all the suspension and steering (Discount should have noticed any worn out parts). Next check vehicle height - make sure springs aren't worn out. Only then can you hook up the machine. Also watch what they are doing. To measure castor you must turn the front wheels left and right. I've seen shops give me a printout saying castor is dead on, except they never moved the steering wheel. IMPOSSIBLE!

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