Friday, 17 October 2014

Steering Wheel Vibration

A shaking steering wheel is a common problem but can be caused by a range of issues ranging from the simple to the expensive. 

Here are some common causes;

Tyre Inflation
Incorrectly inflated tyres (most likely under inflated) can cause a vibration that can be sometimes felt through the steering wheel. This is an easy one to check and to rectify as a starting point that is often over looked. 

Unbalanced Wheels
When a tyre is fitted the wheel needs to be balanced. This means making the distribution of weight across the wheel even and is achieved by applying weights. There are two types of weight commonly used. Knock on weights clip to the edges of the wheel rim and are commonly found on steel wheels. Stick on weights are usually found on alloy wheels. It is possible for weights to fall off if incorrectly fitted, damaged or through age. An imbalanced wheel can produce a vibration and cause premature tyre wear. Our premises are equipped with a high quality wheel balancer and every wheel we refurbish is balanced prior to fitting to the vehicle. 

Buckled Wheels
A wheel with a buckle or flat spot can also show itself as a vibration felt through the steering. Similar to an unbalanced wheel the vibration may be more noticeable at certain speeds. We can straighten buckled alloy wheels at a fraction of the cost of replacement. We commonly see wheels with a large amount of weights applied which is a tell tale sign of a fitter trying to balance a buckled wheel that requires repair. Application of excessive weights can lead to weights falling off as mentioned above. 

Wheel Alignment
Wheel alignment, also known as tracking, can help to cure some vibration problems. If the tracking is out on a vehicle the tyres can wear unevenly and this can lead to a vibration. Wheels out of alignment can either be adjusted or may be the result of damage to the steering system. We can perform two or four wheel alignment and supply & fit tyres at competitive prices at our Clayton Road workshop.

Brake Discs
An over heated brake disc can warp and buckle. This means as the disc runs through the pads is it trying to move left and right and as a result produces a vibration when braking. This can be felt as a shake through the steering wheel and/or as a pulse through the brake pedal. This can be the result of fitting poor quality discs or an extended period of braking.

CV Joints
In very basic terms a constant velocity joint connects the drive shaft from the gearbox to the hub where the wheel attaches. The CV joint allows the transfer of drive from the gearbox whilst giving the wheel the ability to move with the steering and suspension systems. The CV joint has a protective rubber boot to keep dirt and moisture off the bearings inside. These boots can fail over time (you may have seen them as an item on an MOT test result) and bearings can get damaged. When the bearings start to wear you may notice a vibration through the steering wheel when accelerating or when turning on full lock. If they are really badly worn they can also produce an audible knocking. Immediate replacement is recommended as a CV failure will leave your car stranded. Although the engine will run and you can select gears no drive will be transferred to the wheels. 

This is by no means a definitive list but a good starting point to diagnose a problem. Our Clayton Road workshop is open Monday to Friday 8am til 5pm and Saturday mornings from 8am until mid day. Our staff are always on hand to give advice and answer your questions. You can call us on 01522 568 247 or e-mail 

Monday, 6 October 2014

Wet Weather Driving Tips

As we head into Autumn driving in wet weather will be a necessity. Here are our tips for safer driving in wet conditions;

Allow for bigger braking distances.
Water reduces the efficiency of your brakes and reduces the grip levels on the road surface. Rain also draws dirt, diesel & oil to the road surface further reducing grip. It is good practice to at least double the distance between you and the vehicle in front compared to dry conditions. 

Avoid Puddles.
Drivers caught deliberately driving through puddles to soak pedestrians or other road users can be prosecuted under the 1988 Road Traffic Act.
Driving though puddles also increases the risk of aquaplaning.  Aquaplaning (also known as hydroplaning) is where the tyre treads cannot disperse the water on the road surface and as a result the tyre "floats" on the surface water and loses contact with the road. This can result in a total loss of control of the vehicle. 

Puddles can hide potholes that can lead to a number of problems including punctures, buckled wheels and damage to the steering & suspension systems. The team at Paint Perfect can repair buckled alloy wheels as well as two & four wheel alignment (also known as tracking).
Driving through deep or standing water can also cause serious, sometimes permanent, damage to engines and electrical systems. 

Ensure Your Tyres Are In Good Condition.
A tyre's tread is designed to disperse water so the tyre stays in contact with the road surface and does not aquaplane (as described above) A worn tyre will not clear as much water and as a result the risk of aquaplaning is increased.
1.6mm is the legal minimum tread depth (although many people advise 3mm to be safe).

 Your tyres will probably have a wear marker on the central grooves. If the tread is level with the top of the wear markers then the tyres need replacing. 

You can also do the 20 pence test. The border around the edge of a 20 pence piece is 1.6mm and can be used to check tread depth. This photo shows the tyre is just below the limit and requires replacement.
It is advisable in all weather conditions to keep your tyres inflated to the vehicle manufacturer's specification.
We can supply & fit tyres at competitive prices from our Clayton Road workshop. We can supply most top brands such as Michelin, Pirelli & Continental as well as quality mid range brands such as Kumho & Avon. 

Check Your Wipers.
Often a neglected item, damaged or old wipers can result in a screen not clearing properly dangerously reducing visibility or causing damage to the windscreen. They are also an item on which your vehicle can be refused an MOT.  We can supply & fit wiper blades whilst you wait. Check your washer bottle is filled as other vehicles can cover the windscreen in mud and dirt. It is advisable to use screen wash rather than household soap in washer bottles as the salts in washing up liquid perish wiper blades.

DO: Check all your lights are working! We can supply & fit bulbs at competitive prices.
DO: Use your lights during heavy rain.
DON'T: Use your rear fog light in the rain. The fog light illuminating the spray from the back of your vehicle makes it harder for other drivers to see when your brake lights come on. 

Use Your Air Con.
It is a common misconception that air conditioning only works for blowing cold air. Setting the heaters to blow hot and turning the air conditioning on will demist the windows faster as it also acts as a dehumidifier. Remember to set your heaters before setting off even if the windows are misted up when you first get in.

Learn Your Vehicle
If things start to go wrong you need to know your vehicle. Is it front or rear wheel drive? This will more than likely determine the way it slides in low grip situations. Does it have ABS? In an ABS equipped car you can simply apply the brakes, a non ABS equipped vehicle may lock the wheels in low grip situations and you will need to use cadence braking technique. Consider taking some extra driving tuition. There are many companies that offer skid pan and car control sessions to teach drivers to cope in adverse conditions. A fun day out could provide you will some very valuable skills.

If the worst happens....
Click here for our guide on what to do in the event of an accident