Car (and steering wheel) shake/vibration at highway speeds - Taurus Car Club of America : Ford Taurus Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-08-2010, 04:31 PM Thread Starter
Junior Member
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 13
Rep Power: 0
Trader Score: 0 reviews
Car (and steering wheel) shake/vibration at highway speeds

My 2001 Vulcan is shaking at highway speeds. The steering wheel is shaking back and forth (left to right/right to left) at above 40mph, but especially at 60+mph. The vibration comes and goes - it's not constant, though is noticeably worse when it's hot out (I'm in San Antonio now, so that means on the afternoon drive home). The thing is, it's not constant, as I said. It's bad for a few seconds, then goes away, then comes back, then goes away, then comes back, and so on.

I just replaced my front tires. They were badly worn (especially on the inside portion of the tire). They had a lot of miles (more then they should have), so this is not unexpected. Before I replaced the tires this afternoon, it was noticeable at most speeds most of the time. Confusing, I know. Imagine how I feel. On the old tires it seemed like something was just out of round. Like the car was going up slightly, and then down slightly, rhythmically at parking lot speeds. This is not the case now. But the vibration/shimmy/wobble/whatever you wanna call it remains.

Originally I thought it was a lost weight on the right tire. It looked like one had come off at some point, but I couldn't be too sure, because I never really paid attention. I did have my car in recently to my trusty family mechanic (to chase down a wonderful electrical problem that was frying my coil packs rather quickly). He said "you REALLY need new tires" and that he noticed my car shakes at highway speeds, which he attributed to my old tires.

Like I said, I just replaced the front ones (the back right is next, but the back left is maybe at half tread and is going to have to wait until I'm out of school and actually have, you know, money). The tires were balanced, but I couldn't really tell on what type of machine. And I'll admit I'm not 100% confident they did the best job at it.

The strange thing is, it seems like the wobble/shake/vibration moved from one side of the car (the LEFT) to the other (the RIGHT). The same rims remain on the same sides of the car that they have since I've owned it (they did each tire separately due to a miscommunication - my spanish and their english wasn't on the same level, apparently, lol). Before the new tires, the car pulled slightly to the right. Now it pulls slightly to the left.

Now I'm curious what it could be. Should I get them rebalanced? Could it be the transmission/axle? I will say that it appears to be slightly more noticeable when the car is decelerating or coasting, and goes away a tiny bit under load, but this isn't always the case. It's one of those things that it seems like, but it's not always repeatable.

I know very little about suspensions, but I'm a quick learner, and lucky enough that I have the tools and the ingenuity to figure out how to fix/replace most anything on a car when I need to. Just need some help to point myself in the right direction so I can do down the list of things to check (and how to check them).

I will add this. The car is not making any sounds that I do not know where they're coming from. The P/S whines when turning when the levels get a little low (it's a new p/s so either there's a leak I need to track down, or I need to flush it properly this time), and the engine whines under load, but it's not a new whine (i.e. it's been doing that for years). I've tried turning the wheel as far right and left as it would go and accelerating and it didn't hop or grind or click. The rotors are new, but probably a little warped due to the fact that they're cheap and have been on a wobbling/shaking/vibrating front end for a few months (they're under warranty so in the next month or so I'm going to take them in and have them replaced switched out under warranty). Also, this weekend, if I have time, I'm going to move the front tires to the rear and see if that has any effect.

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!
02vulcanse is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-08-2010, 06:04 PM
Senior Member
901-Memphis's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2009
Chapter: Northeast
Posts: 664
Rep Power: 0
Trader Score: 0 reviews
You need to have your front end aligned every 1 year if you can afford it. It costs about $70 no matter where you get it, but go to a reputable place.

Some places offer lifetime packages, which means you pay a larger amount and get unlimited alignments usually every x amount of time or mileage.

Its just your toe-in/out thats off and causing the tires to wear uneven... Its like dragging the tires sideways for hundred of miles and causing them to wear prematurely.

Around my area with so many potholes i have to align every year or wear my tires out too quick.

1999 Vulcan Sedan with 145k+

Last edited by 901-Memphis; 09-08-2010 at 06:06 PM.
901-Memphis is offline  
post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-08-2010, 09:55 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Sep 2010
Chapter: Northeast
Posts: 4
Rep Power: 0
Trader Score: 0 reviews
1. 901-Memphis is most likely right, it needs a Front End Alignment.
The uneven wear on the inside of the tire is Toe-IN.

2. If the steering wheel is still shaking after the front end alignment it could possibly be Broken Belts in the tire (even if it's new). Usually you won't feel the shaking until this tire is in the front of the car. You almost always have an annoying noise when you have a broken belt (you'll have noise whether the tire is in the front or rear).

3. Next, your Rotor could be warped. Overtightening the lugnuts can warp the rotor. This can cause the steering wheel to shake but it usually only happens when you apply the brakes at 50-75 mph. I have been in a car where this happened even without applying the brakes, but it's very uncommon.
bugspop1 is offline  
post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-09-2010, 07:18 AM
Technical Advisor
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Chapter: Midwest
Year: 2005
Model: Ford Taurus
Engine: 3.0L 24v Duratec V6
Posts: 6,257
Rep Power: 75
Trader Score: 0 reviews
Warp[ed rotors generally only cause shake / vibration when brakes are applied, not just driving down the road.

My bet would be a bad tire as 901 Memphis points out, or bent rim. Hit any curbs lately? Switch front and rear tires/wheels and see if the problem changes or goes away.

A wheel alignment is not going to cure a shake in the front end.

05 Taurus SEL Duratec - my daily driver
04 Taurus SES Duratec - wifes car - TOTALED
06 Taurus SE Vulcan - wifes new ride
95 Taurus GL Vulcan winter car
Toy #1 - 86 Tbird 5.0 (original owner) - LOTS of mods
Toy #2 - 88 Tbird Turbo Coupe - LOTS of mods
67 Honda 450 Super Sport - completely customized
Jeff K is offline  
Sponsored Links

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Taurus Car Club of America : Ford Taurus Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome