Friday, July 4, 2014

Your Car 101 (Series) - Why is my steering wheel shaking?

Steering Wheel
Steering Wheel Shaking?  A few tips to hone in on the issue. 
There are several reasons why your steering wheel might be shaking.  I hope these help you with your process of elimination.

1) Check your tie rod ends.

These are the components at the ends of your steering rack.  There is an inner and an outer.  They are what's attached to your wheel components and have greased areas.  If these are not properly greased and if the grease boot has busted or worn out, it can be the cause of our shake.  Using a jack, lift up the a suspected corner.  Inspect the black rubber section of the outer tie rod end (see image).

2) Worn wheel bearings.

These will typically make a noise if completely worn out.  Best way to check is jack the corner of the car you suspect the issue to be on.  Grab the wheel/tire.  Rock the wheel side to side to see if there is any slack.  Then rock the wheel top and bottom for the same.  If you find slack in all 4 directions without steering wheel movement, it is most likely you need to replace your wheel bearing.

3) Re-balance your tires.

Tires after some while, can sometimes throw off a weight.  Hammer on weights tend to damange the wheels' surface, but are more likely to stay on the wheel than stick on weights.  The best way to tell if your tire needs to be re-balanced is if the shaking in the steering wheel starts at a speed and approximately 10-15 mph later, it disappears.  For example, you begin to feel a shake at 55mph.  And as you pick up speed, then at 65 or 70, the shaking disappears.  That would require a re-balance of the tires.

4) Replace Your Tires

Run your hand gently across the tread of the tires.  Sometimes the tread starts to warp and no longer becomes a smooth surface.  The tread becomes "choppy" or develops knots.  This is sometimes due to manufacturers defect, but also with the overinflation of tires.  Be sure to check your tire pressure regularly for not only optimum tire life, but optimum gas mileage.

There are a few other culprits that can cause steering wheel shake.  I will add them on this blog as they come to mind.  But for now, these are very common sources of a wheel shake.

- Bryan Lin | CEO, The Motorsports Authority, Inc. |