Steering wheel wobble/vibration

206 Views 2 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  Shumax1
2019 SE with the 1.5 Ecoturd. 32,000 miles. Never hit anything and is in good shape.

I had a set of tires put on about 5,000 miles ago. Ran smoothly; no issues. Took it in for an oil change, they balanced the tires (which I didn't request) and it started shaking. Again, perfectly fine when I went in. Fast forward through 4 attempts to rebalance the tires. This, including use of the Hunter Road Force machine, which brought all RF values to 10lbs., or less on all four wheels! I still have a wobble I can SEE in the steering wheel at 42-47mph. Then, at 75-80, the steering wheel shakes. I had the alignment checked, which shouldn't matter, and it was fine.

I finally threw the towel in and ditched the tires and got Michelin Crossclimate 2's installed today. Road Force figures were all below 18 - two at 10lbs. I wasn't thrilled about the higher figures on two, but they put those in the back. I drove off and same wobble at 42-47 and a slightly reduced vibration at 75-80. Starting to think there was something wrong with the car, I had them inspect all the bushings in the front and they contend everything is tight. Frankly, it should be with 32,000 miles.

I'm at a loss. I start back from the beginning - it was smooth until the tires were balanced when I didn't even ask for them to be. 4 attempts to fix it and nothing better. New, high quality tires, and I still have the same issue. What gives?

Thanks for any input!
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Sounds like the techs goofed something when they did balancing that you didn't request. That (at least to me, and I'm a tech) is not good work ethic and is fraud.

Anyhow, the vibration and/or wobble of steering wheel can be caused by any of the following.
1. Warped brake rotors
2. Tire/Wheel balance issue
3. Alignment issue
4. Suspension issue
5. Sticking brake caliper
6. Tie rods/ends
7. Wheel bearing(s) failing

Sounds like you've already had wheels/tires balance checked, alignment checked and suspension checked. Should be safe to eliminate 2, 3 and 4 off that list.
I'd say rather unlikely that rotors are warped at only 32k miles, but it's not impossible either. Have the brakes checked for a sticking caliper piston or warped rotor.
Tie rods and wheel bearings can certainly be cause and very easy to diagnose. Jack up front end, support on jack stands. For tie rods, just grab one and try to nudge it in every possible direction. If it will shake around easily then that is your problem.
For wheel bearings, grab the wheel at 3 and 9 o'clock positions try to shake it back and forth. Then do the same at 6 and 12 o'clock positions. If there is play/wobble in both directions the bearing is damaged. If no play/wobble, set parking brake and put trans in Neutral. Spin each wheel and listen for any kind of grinding or scraping sound from the center/axle area of the wheel. Use a long screw driver as a stethoscope to hear better, just touch the flat blade end to the back of the axle area and the handle end to your ear.
There's lots of videos on youtube that will show how to do diagnosis yourself. Your favorite tech/shop can do it for you, but will most likely charge a diagnostic fee (can be about $60 and up)

Hope this is some help.
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Thanks for taking the time to outline this - very much appreciated!

I actually have my own Hunter Road Force machine in my garage. I warmed the tires up, by driving the vehicle for 20min., and immediately put it in the air. You have to do this to eliminate flat spots from the tires. What I found was interesting...

All assemblies were out of balance by as much as one oz. Every one was at least .50 of an oz. out. That's quite a bit of variance and makes me wonder about the dealers Road Force machine, which was newer - FYI. Could the tires have seated on the rim, more, as I drove 18 miles home after having them installed? Perhaps, but I struggle to believe it would change that much in 18 miles.

What I further noticed? The right front had high road force - 24lbs. Further, I could visibly see it 'hop' up and down on the balancer. It also was 'wobbling' side to side some. Finally, the assembly took 3 oz of weight on the outside; 2oz on the inside of the rim. That's a lot of weight for a 17" rim. I moved that assembly to the rear and went for a drive.

The steering wheel no longer wobbled. At higher speeds - around 80mph, I can detect some vibration in the rear from that tire with higher road force. I called the dealer and they ordered a new tire to replace that one. Goes on, on Friday.

It's amazing to me that a new set of tires - never mind, Michelin - can be bad like that. But, things do happen. Hopefully the shop calibrates their balancer, too.

Thanks again for the time and input!
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