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