Vibration in steering wheel at highway speeds

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by DVad3r, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. DVad3r

    DVad3r Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2005
    Messages:
    5,328
    Likes Received:
    0
    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?
     
  2. janas19

    janas19 Platinum Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2011
    Messages:
    2,352
    Likes Received:
    0
    Not your struts. Bad struts would give you a "floating" feeling or lots of rattling over bumps.
     
  3. manimal

    manimal Lifer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2007
    Messages:
    13,563
    Likes Received:
    1
    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.
     
  4. DVad3r

    DVad3r Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2005
    Messages:
    5,328
    Likes Received:
    0
    My brakes and rotors are like 6 months old. I should bring it into the shop and call though...
     
  5. manimal

    manimal Lifer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2007
    Messages:
    13,563
    Likes Received:
    1
    Did they turn your rotors or did they replace?


    Any honest shop would look at work they did.
     
  6. SparkyJJO

    SparkyJJO Lifer

    Joined:
    May 16, 2002
    Messages:
    13,352
    Likes Received:
    2
    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 :\
     
  7. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Messages:
    23,677
    Likes Received:
    4
    That sounds odd that they would say that...
     
  8. JCH13

    JCH13 Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2010
    Messages:
    4,654
    Likes Received:
    5
    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.
     
    #8 JCH13, Jan 12, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
  9. DVad3r

    DVad3r Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2005
    Messages:
    5,328
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hmm weird. Today on the drive in to work I didn't feel any vibration...

    WTF?
     
  10. DVad3r

    DVad3r Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2005
    Messages:
    5,328
    Likes Received:
    0
    I got a brand new set of rotors from autoanything.com powerslot or powerstop or whatever, and new brake pads.
     
  11. classy

    classy Lifer

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 1999
    Messages:
    15,218
    Likes Received:
    1
    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.
     
  12. rh71

    rh71 No Lifer

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2001
    Messages:
    50,033
    Likes Received:
    17
    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.
     
    #12 rh71, Jan 12, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
  13. FuzzyDunlop

    FuzzyDunlop Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2008
    Messages:
    3,236
    Likes Received:
    0
    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.
     
  14. JulesMaximus

    JulesMaximus No Lifer

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2003
    Messages:
    71,901
    Likes Received:
    82
    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.
     
  15. SparkyJJO

    SparkyJJO Lifer

    Joined:
    May 16, 2002
    Messages:
    13,352
    Likes Received:
    2
    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.
     
    #15 SparkyJJO, Jan 12, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
  16. DaTT

    DaTT Lifer

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2003
    Messages:
    12,978
    Likes Received:
    31
    They would typically "hummm" at highway speeds too.
     
  17. DaTT

    DaTT Lifer

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2003
    Messages:
    12,978
    Likes Received:
    31
    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.
     
  18. SparkyJJO

    SparkyJJO Lifer

    Joined:
    May 16, 2002
    Messages:
    13,352
    Likes Received:
    2
    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.
     
  19. DaTT

    DaTT Lifer

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2003
    Messages:
    12,978
    Likes Received:
    31
    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.
     
  20. exdeath

    exdeath Lifer

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2004
    Messages:
    13,643
    Likes Received:
    0
    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.
     
    #20 exdeath, Jan 12, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
  21. Railgun

    Railgun Golden Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2010
    Messages:
    1,269
    Likes Received:
    0
    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.
     
  22. cezaranho

    cezaranho Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    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..
     
  23. CraigRT

    CraigRT Lifer

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2000
    Messages:
    31,443
    Likes Received:
    0
    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.