My wife and I have owned our '08 Corolla since brand new. It is up to 162,000 miles now, and has developed a fairly serious handling issue. The car wanders at highway speeds (60mph+). This generally only occurs with some wind, on a long straight without wind you can take your hands off the wheel and it goes straight without issues. With wind, either natural or from nearby vehicles, it wanders around even if you’re in a long sweeping turn. It doesn’t weave totally out of a lane, but it does feel very unstable. On dry roads it’s mostly a nuisance, requiring two hands and being tiring. If it’s raining, however, the car feels like it’s trying to hydroplane constantly, although I don’t think it’s actually hydroplaning that’s just the sensation.
It started probably 20,000 miles ago and has gotten dramatically worse in the last ~5,000. I took it to a shop and asked them to go through the suspension and they gave it a clean bill of health. After that I took it in for tires and an alignment (needed tires anyway) and told the tire shop what I was experiencing. They put 4 new tires on, plus an alignment, and said they didn’t find anything wrong with it either. As an aside it’s running the stock steel wheels still.
I drive 50 miles each way to work, mostly highway, so this is getting to be a serious problem. It’s to the point that I drive my truck when it’s going to be raining, and white-knuckle it in the corolla when it’s dry out. I’ve read similar accounts, and checked everything that other people have found to cause similar issues, and so have two shops. Tierod ends and control arm bushings are good. The rack seems good (no play at all in the steering wheel) plus I’ve driven plenty of vehicles with slop in the steering and they didn’t feel like this and only tended to wander when going straight because a sweeping turn takes the play out of the steering. The struts are original all around, but the car easily passes the “bounce test”. Is there a better way to check them? I’d hate to spend the $750+ to have them done and find out that wasn’t the issue. Any other suggestions?