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steering wheel vibration
06-21-2016, 04:44 PM
Post: #1
steering wheel vibration
Hello, my car is a 1997 toyota avalon with the standard 200hp v-6, approx. 70,000 miles since the motor and tranny were replaced (340,000 total vehicle miles) and I live in Phoenix, Az.
Here is my problem. I recently installed new struts on the car (all 4) as well as replacing the front brake calipers, rotors and pads. I should probably mention that when I replaced the motor/tranny I also installed new drive axles and a whole bunch of other parts that were in relation to the drive system. All this work was completed in the summer of 2014.
Back to the recent work. My problem is my steering wheel shakes quite a bit no matter what speed I am going. I don't feel any difference in the vibration at different speeds. It used to also shake worse when I hit the brakes but new rotors and caliper assemblies have fixed that problem. Now, when I was replacing the struts, I failed to remember to support the hub/rotor before removing both strut bolts and when I removed the last bolt, the weight of the hub/rotor yanked my left drive axle in half. right where the boot meets with the larger part going in to the tranny. Now I thought this would be the obvious reason for the vibration but after checking online I can't find any site that says this driveshaft would be the problem. And of course I lifted up that wheel hub and put the driveshaft back together but I'm concerned that the separation may have damaged it beyond fixing. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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06-22-2016, 12:05 AM (This post was last modified: 06-22-2016 12:08 AM by Rupe.)
Post: #2
RE: steering wheel vibration
In my experience, a worn / damaged CV joint on the axle has more vibration as the angle of the joint increases. IOW, sharp turns or extra body roll makes it more obvious depending on which joint is the problem. (inside or outside) There are other things than can cause vibration, such as broken tire belts (internal) but ALL of them will change with driving speed because they are all tied together.

A problem with warped rotors will only be felt when you step on the brakes.

To isolate your issue may require placing the car on jack stands and having a helper bring the wheels up to driving speed while you (carefully) observe for noise, shake, vibration. Turn the steering wheel all the way to both sides to see if anything changes. Also observe the tire tread and sidewalls for any lumps & bumps at say 10 - 20 mph, which can cause an issue while driving but maybe not while unloaded. I had a van with a bad tire just yesterday and could not see the imperfection till the tire was at speed, then it was quite obvious. While the car is up you may also want to double check the steering and suspension components for anything that is worn, like ball joints, tie rod ends, control arm bushings, and wheel bearings.

Tell us what you find and we'll chat more.
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06-22-2016, 05:01 PM
Post: #3
RE: steering wheel vibration
(06-22-2016 12:05 AM)Rupe Wrote:  In my experience, a worn / damaged CV joint on the axle has more vibration as the angle of the joint increases. IOW, sharp turns or extra body roll makes it more obvious depending on which joint is the problem. (inside or outside) There are other things than can cause vibration, such as broken tire belts (internal) but ALL of them will change with driving speed because they are all tied together.

A problem with warped rotors will only be felt when you step on the brakes.

To isolate your issue may require placing the car on jack stands and having a helper bring the wheels up to driving speed while you (carefully) observe for noise, shake, vibration. Turn the steering wheel all the way to both sides to see if anything changes. Also observe the tire tread and sidewalls for any lumps & bumps at say 10 - 20 mph, which can cause an issue while driving but maybe not while unloaded. I had a van with a bad tire just yesterday and could not see the imperfection till the tire was at speed, then it was quite obvious. While the car is up you may also want to double check the steering and suspension components for anything that is worn, like ball joints, tie rod ends, control arm bushings, and wheel bearings.

Tell us what you find and we'll chat more.

Thank you for the input. After I posted my problem I gave it some more thought and took the car for a drive to make sure what I posted was accurate information and some of my previous info was incorrect. I apologize for this. The last thing I want to do is waste anybody's time. So, upon further examination, I found that the vibrations start at around 20mph and get a little worse as my speed increases. Now, compared to the videos I saw, this vibration may seem minimal, but I've had this car for quite a while and it never had any vibrations before so I know something isn't right.I should also mention that testing the car yesterday the problem seemed intermittent. Im not sure of three problem but I will try the driving in place you suggested and see what I come up with. Thanks again.
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06-22-2016, 08:09 PM
Post: #4
RE: steering wheel vibration
Couple of hints:

Starting at 20 mph is generally not a tire balancing issue.

If at say 10 mph in a parking lot you don't feel the steering shake but get a very mild head bobbing as if the pavement has waves in it, then you are probably looking a broken tire belt. That's something you may not see turning a tire by hand but if the wheel was spinning at 20 mph off the ground and you look at it head on, then you'd see it.
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06-23-2016, 02:51 AM
Post: #5
RE: steering wheel vibration
You could always do what ive done when I suspect broken belts in tires. I take the 2 tires from the back and rotate them up front and then test drive and if the vibrations go away then I go and get me some new tires
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06-23-2016, 10:00 PM
Post: #6
RE: steering wheel vibration
Good point Sandman but as long as you have one end up to do the rotation you might as well put it in gear and take a look for the wiggly tire first.

BTW, the vibration wont go away but it will switch from the steering wheel to feeling it more in the seat. A bad tire is still a bad tire no matter where it is.
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07-06-2016, 06:40 PM (This post was last modified: 07-06-2016 06:45 PM by solo72.)
Post: #7
RE: steering wheel vibration
I finally have had a chance to respond to the helpful posts I have gotten about my vibration problem. I jacked up the car and checked the wheels (with car in drive,etc.etc.) and it isn't as cut and dry as the videos I've seen about it makes it look. Which leads me to ask, can I post a video along with my text? If so, I may try this route but from what I could tell, the left tire /wheel looked questionable. This is the only wheel I could check this way because the right front wheel did not turn with the left which leads me to my next question. Is that normal on front wheel drives for only one tire to turn with the tranny? If not, I have serious problems, lol. Another mention is I recently had to drive out of town and I was able to pinpoint a little bit better the range of the problem. The vibration in the wheel is really noticeable between speeds of 45 to 75. Before or after this range it is almost non-existent. Thanks again in advance.
Oops, I almost forgot, is it necessary to bring the car up to speed because when i did this I didn't increase the tire rotation other than to let it idle in drive which spun the tire but not at a really fast pace.
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07-06-2016, 10:35 PM
Post: #8
RE: steering wheel vibration
If you are just looking to see if the tire is deformed (not perfectly round) there's no need for speed. You mention only one tire turning, which is common enough. If you can spin the tire by hand then there's no major problem. This is where it's handy to have a helper behind the wheel. They can give it a little gas or put a slight drag on the brakes to get the other tire turning.

You seem to have it narrowed down to a specific speed range, which to me sounds more like it may be a tire balancing problem. I know we chatted earlier and at 20 mph, that's just too slow to feel a balance problem, but over 40 mph is very typical, especially if it goes away at higher speeds. A bad tire will continue to cause vibration. As I stated before, if you swap the tires from the front to the rear and the shake goes away from the steering wheel but more to the seat of your pants that also rules out worn suspension parts, shocks, etc.

On posting pictures or video, we can take small attachments (up to maybe 500kb?) but video far exceeds that so I suggest posting to YouTube or similar then placing a link to that within your post so we can find it easily.
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07-06-2016, 11:24 PM
Post: #9
RE: steering wheel vibration
(07-06-2016 10:35 PM)Rupe Wrote:  If you are just looking to see if the tire is deformed (not perfectly round) there's no need for speed. You mention only one tire turning, which is common enough. If you can spin the tire by hand then there's no major problem. This is where it's handy to have a helper behind the wheel. They can give it a little gas or put a slight drag on the brakes to get the other tire turning.

You seem to have it narrowed down to a specific speed range, which to me sounds more like it may be a tire balancing problem. I know we chatted earlier and at 20 mph, that's just too slow to feel a balance problem, but over 40 mph is very typical, especially if it goes away at higher speeds. A bad tire will continue to cause vibration. As I stated before, if you swap the tires from the front to the rear and the shake goes away from the steering wheel but more to the seat of your pants that also rules out worn suspension parts, shocks, etc.

On posting pictures or video, we can take small attachments (up to maybe 500kb?) but video far exceeds that so I suggest posting to YouTube or similar then placing a link to that within your post so we can find it easily.

You are probably right about the balance of the tire. I would actually prefer that this is the case because it's probably the easiest to fix out of all the potential problems. Also a place that I frequently go to about an hour and a half away from where i live has had a lot of construction on their highway. Due to the use of heavy equipment it has roughened up the roads to where it's almost as bumpy as going off road. I suppose I could have lost a weight there. Thanks again. I will look into this.
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07-07-2016, 01:39 AM
Post: #10
RE: steering wheel vibration
In one of your posts you commented about only one wheel spins and the other one doesnt. Most cars have what is called the power wheel and thats the one that spins
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