I have a 1999 Mercedes C class with a wheel vibration. Its a pulsing kind of like tapping your finger on a table or driving over grooved roads. Its linked to vehicle speed and is apparent from really low speeds to highway speeds when it becomes difficult to tell, probably because of frequency. It can be felt on smooth or rough roads. When its cold out, its more apparent and becomes less noticeable when the car warms up/when the weather is warmer. I've had this for about 1000 miles now. In one drive, I went 200 miles without any other problems.

I had all 4 wheel straightened, all 4 balanced multiple times, replaced the drive shaft support bearing and flex disks. I don't think the straightening did that much for it. I brought it for repair at two places. One said the caliper was seizing, even though the brakes are not getting hot on that caliper. The other said that the caliper was fine and the shocks should be replaced, as there is some fluid coming out of it (shocks seem fine to me).

I'm not convinced by either. I shook the front passenger wheel at 12 and 6 o'clock position and heard some clicking and a little play. There was also play in the horizontal direction on both front wheels but not sure if thats just play in steering. I asked both shops about bearing and they did not think bearing was bad. Their reasoning is there is no roaring from it and it does not increase under wheel load.

I'm not sure what to do at this point and really just want it fixed. Hoping someone can help.

Edit: Tires are 2000 miles old. Problem occurred 3 months after getting tires and driving through bad roads.

  • I would bet on bearing and race combination, bearings alone are higher pitch. A hand spin should tell Commented May 23, 2018 at 16:47
  • Its not a high pitch. Spinning it made sound like brake was dragging on it at two point in rotation. It spun for less time than wheel on opposite side. When I asked shop they said it spun freely/ok. Commented May 23, 2018 at 16:55
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    Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! I'm thinking you may have a tire with a slipped belt. I don't see you mentioning if you can tell where (front/rear) the vibration is coming from. You can possibly rotate wheels/tires front to rear to see if the vibration follows or if it stays in the same place. Considering it's worse when cold, this would also lend me to believe it's one of the tires. Commented May 23, 2018 at 17:48
  • My Mercedes SUV had a similar problem with bent calipers and outside wear fixed with a few sledge hammer blows and drove around USA to Key West NYC and back to Toronto. Remove wheel and use hose to ear to locate source of sound rotating rotor in neutral on jack or hydraulic jack is what I would do. Commented May 23, 2018 at 19:33
  • More than likely it is a bad tire.
    – Moab
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 20:42

1 Answer 1


Check to see if the thumping noise moves when you rotate the tires, some tires have ply separation issues when exposed to very rough road conditions. Balancing the tires won't cure the problem, if you're capable of raising the car chassis then spin each wheel and sight across the tread, the lump will be visible in the damaged tire.

  • I haven't rotated the wheels yet (I also have a staggered setup). I have spun the wheels around and didnt see any lumps. Does there have to be for there to be damage? Commented May 24, 2018 at 0:49
  • As mentioned in other posts, the belts can dislodge and leave hollow spaces or lumps in the carcass of the tire. Some tire shops do on the vehicle balancing, it often ferrets out just your problem.
    – Bug Bug 40
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 4:29

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