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Old 01-11-2012, 11:14 PM   #1
DVad3r
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Question Vibration in steering wheel at highway speeds

Hey guys,

I am getting a vibration in my steering wheel at around 110-120 km/h or around 65-70 mp/h. It's nothing crazy but it's noticeble and it wasn't there before.

Now I had 4 winter tires put on 3 weeks ago, and I went back to the shop that put them on for me because I thought it was the balance. They said that the weights were all there, and that there shouldn't be an issue with the balance, but if I wanted to I could go and find a place that does "high speed balancing". I've never heard of this.

Anyways the strange thing is that when I got the tires put on there wasn't any vibration, I started getting the vibration about a week ago, which I guess makes the balance good.

I'm thinking it might be an entirely different issue, I know my front struts are due for replacement, could they be giving me the vibration at higher speeds? I don't have any vibration driving slower on city streets.

Car is a 2001 Lexus ES 300 with 187,000 km or 116,000 miles.

What could be the issue?
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Old 01-11-2012, 11:57 PM   #2
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Not your struts. Bad struts would give you a "floating" feeling or lots of rattling over bumps.
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Old 01-12-2012, 12:15 AM   #3
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Have your brakes been looked at? My G35 did that at speed even after turning the rotors. I went with aftermarket and NON oem after reading about factory warp issues.
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Old 01-12-2012, 12:19 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manimal View Post
Have your brakes been looked at? My G35 did that at speed even after turning the rotors. I went with aftermarket and NON oem after reading about factory warp issues.
My brakes and rotors are like 6 months old. I should bring it into the shop and call though...
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Old 01-12-2012, 12:26 AM   #5
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My brakes and rotors are like 6 months old. I should bring it into the shop and call though...
Did they turn your rotors or did they replace?


Any honest shop would look at work they did.
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Old 01-12-2012, 01:22 AM   #6
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Tie rod ends are what come to mind first. Could also be a CV axle or wheel bearing, although a bearing is usually accompanied by a roar. Ask me how I know - I have a bad front bearing and today it started roaring very loudly. I hope it hangs in there for 2 more days
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:18 AM   #7
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Quote:
They said that the weights were all there, and that there shouldn't be an issue with the balance, but if I wanted to I could go and find a place that does "high speed balancing". I've never heard of this.
That sounds odd that they would say that...
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:22 AM   #8
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I'd vote balance, especially if all they did was a low-speed balance.

I would look for a place that does high-speed or (preferably) Hunter balancing.
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Old 01-12-2012, 10:12 AM   #9
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Hmm weird. Today on the drive in to work I didn't feel any vibration...

WTF?
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Old 01-12-2012, 10:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manimal View Post
Did they turn your rotors or did they replace?


Any honest shop would look at work they did.
I got a brand new set of rotors from autoanything.com powerslot or powerstop or whatever, and new brake pads.
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Old 01-12-2012, 10:20 AM   #11
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Wheel bearings can do this as well as one of the guys pointed out. I would get those checked first, considering you only feel it as certain speeds.
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Old 01-12-2012, 10:55 AM   #12
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I've been battling this problem for a few years now - only at highway speeds (thankfully I drive 80% local roads). I've high-speed balanced with a Hunter machine a few times within there too. 2 months ago I brought it to another guy at a garage and he used a regular machine... vibration gone. A few weeks later, it came back. I can swear it has to do with fluctuating tire pressures since the vehicle is already very sensitive to road conditions.

I think the root cause is out-of-round rims or tires, but balancing should be able to solve this for the most part; perhaps the vehicle is entirely too sensitive. When they put it on the balancer, see if the wheel spins perfectly round.
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Old 01-12-2012, 11:34 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rh71 View Post
I think the root cause is out-of-round rims or tires, but balancing should be able to solve this for the most part; perhaps the vehicle is entirely too sensitive. When they put it on the balancer, see if the wheel spins perfectly round.
I was coming in to suggest this. Have you hit any curbs lately... or let your wife/girlfriend drive the car?

SparkyJJO: I wouldnt suspect balljoints or tie-rod ends, wouldnt a speed related vibration come from a spinning object.
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Old 01-12-2012, 01:56 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rh71 View Post
I've been battling this problem for a few years now - only at highway speeds (thankfully I drive 80% local roads). I've high-speed balanced with a Hunter machine a few times within there too. 2 months ago I brought it to another guy at a garage and he used a regular machine... vibration gone. A few weeks later, it came back. I can swear it has to do with fluctuating tire pressures since the vehicle is already very sensitive to road conditions.

I think the root cause is out-of-round rims or tires, but balancing should be able to solve this for the most part; perhaps the vehicle is entirely too sensitive. When they put it on the balancer, see if the wheel spins perfectly round.
Don't you have aftermarket wheels on your car? I've heard that BMWs are very sensitive to aftermarket wheels. When we had a BMW that's one of the main reasons I never changed the wheels from the stock ones.
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:40 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FuzzyDunlop View Post
I was coming in to suggest this. Have you hit any curbs lately... or let your wife/girlfriend drive the car?

SparkyJJO: I wouldnt suspect balljoints or tie-rod ends, wouldnt a speed related vibration come from a spinning object.
If the tie rod end is loose, it can allow the wheel to wiggle back and forth. Think of a shopping cart with a bum wheel - the faster you go, the more it vibrates. At the slower speeds it may not do it very much, if at all. Obviously a loose tie rod end can't let it shake that much, but just a bit can be enough to feel it.

Ball joints hold the spindle in place, if they are loose, the spindle can shake in the sockets, leading to a vibration or shake in the wheel as well.

Pretty much any loose suspension part can shake and vibrate when at speed (or sometimes just certain speeds).

I went through loose tie rod end related vibrations and shakes on my old car, loose ball joint shakes on my current SUV, and now I have different vibration from the bad wheel bearing. A wheel bearing vibration is a higher frequency vibe than a loose ball joint or tie rod end gives you and has less steering wheel shake to it.
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:42 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Wheel bearings can do this as well as one of the guys pointed out. I would get those checked first, considering you only feel it as certain speeds.
They would typically "hummm" at highway speeds too.
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:44 PM   #17
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I would also say that its a balancing issue. If they balanced them it is possible that they made a mistake. I would suggest they re balance them.
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:46 PM   #18
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Quote:
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They would typically "hummm" at highway speeds too.
Usually. My driver front one is currently roaring pretty badly (replacing it Saturday). However, I replaced the passenger front last fall, but it had been uncharacteristically quiet. You could feel the looseness when the wheel was off the ground however. Rather odd.
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:51 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SparkyJJO View Post
Usually. My driver front one is currently roaring pretty badly (replacing it Saturday). However, I replaced the passenger front last fall, but it had been uncharacteristically quiet. You could feel the looseness when the wheel was off the ground however. Rather odd.
I once had a front wheel bearing so bad in my old Audi that when the mechanic took the hub off, the bearing actually fell to pieces and disintegrated. One more trip on the highway and I am sure I would have lost that wheel.
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Old 01-12-2012, 10:34 PM   #20
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If you can feel it sharply in the steering wheel, it's either the wheel or the rotor. It's from out of balance rotating mass tugging on the tie rods, so it has to be something with large radius and large mass (eg: wheel or rotor). You'll feel it stronger at certain speeds due to harmonics at a particular wheel speed. It can be vibrating bad at 65 but be smooth as glass at 80. Driveshafts on RWD vehicles are the same way.

Bad tires will be more muted and choppy and won't tug so hard on the wheel because most of the lateral play is absorbed by the sidewall and not directly coupled to the tie rods.

You can switch wheels around and see if it follows, but not the rotors (they can be directional and you shouldn't mix rotors like that once they are bedded with their pads). On that car wheels should be non staggered so if they are directional swap a front with the rear on the same side.

Also, to really do a brake job by the book. especially the way a high end luxury manufacturer would in a vehicle designed for low NHV and high quality control, you are supposed to measure hub runout and then measure rotor runout at all 5 positions and index the rotor to the position with least runout. Sometimes even have to use wedge shaped shims if it's more than .005" at all positions. This minimizes mass movement due to hub and rotor mating surfaces being slightly out of square and not being perfectly matched for each other. Even the smallest variation causes a perfect rotor to be slightly out of plane and wobble, etc. Like a drive shaft, it only manifests at certain specific speeds.

Dealer mechanics are tought to mark everything that comes off (drive shafts, rotors, wheels, etc) to make sure they go on the same way they came off to minimize creating new complaints after the customer gets the car back. Good indy shops will do the same. Many of these systems are balanced in the car at the factory. A drive shaft for exampled is balanced with the transmission and differential. Replacing it 180 deg can introduce highway vibrations. Ask me how I know

At any rate, a chassis balancer that spins the wheel up to highway speeds on the vehicle itself is going to provide the best balancing. The whole system has to be balanced together, not just one piece.

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Old 01-13-2012, 09:15 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JulesMaximus View Post
Don't you have aftermarket wheels on your car? I've heard that BMWs are very sensitive to aftermarket wheels. When we had a BMW that's one of the main reasons I never changed the wheels from the stock ones.
Not necessarily true. I think most of the time, the aftermarket wheels are junk and overly sensitive to bad roads. Mine were fine until the wonderful Chicago potholes.

I would go with out of round or balance. They claim the weights were there, but did they actually check the balance on them or just do a visual? I can`t imagine they remember exactly what weights they placed and where. If it were anything else, you should be able to feel it at any speed.
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Old 09-05-2012, 11:12 PM   #22
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Hi there! I am driving ford focus 2.0. Lately I found something weird on my ride. When the car speeding at 110 120kmh the steering will slightly vibrate and i wont feel any vibration after exceed that speed. Also at that speed, I feel the vibration when cornering. I did the balancing and applied center cone at my rims but the problem persist.

Anyone help pleaseee..
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Old 09-07-2012, 11:39 AM   #23
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Based on what you describe I would say you almost certainly have a bad tire, or 2, or 4, who knows.

One of the only things that can just start to go bad like that quickly is a tire. If all your front end parts are tight, and your balance checks out, it's probably a tire. I've had it happen myself.
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