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Bumpy ride

I have a 2003 Honda CR-V with 150,000 miles that, up til now, has been a dream car. Now, at moderate speeds (30ish) it occasionally starts vibrating like I’m driving on a very washboarded road. It immediately quits if I let up on the gas. I don’t notice it at higher speeds (freeway driving) or when going very slowly. It seems to initially be brought on by hitting a bit of rough road. I think it feels like it is in the rear of the car and it seems more noticeable on the right (passenger side). We had new shocks put on the FRONT about 3-4 months ago and I think the problem coincided with that but my husband disagrees and says he noticed it before then. We took it to our usually wonderful and reliable shop and, as could be predicted, they could not get it to replicate the problem. We took it back again and they drained and replaced all the transmission fluid thinking that might be the problem. It still does it, although I think it does it a bit less. It also seems to me that the car, which never had a very smooth ride, is even stiffer and bumpier than before. What’s going on? Could this be a drive train issue? Transmisson? Should we have also done the rear shocks at the same time as the front? HELP! I’m getting paranoid about safety.

If you had the front struts replaced it might also be time to replace the rear struts.

When a strut wears out where it can no longer dampen the spring oscillation and you hit a bump at a certain speed, this can cause the tire to start bouncing up and down as the vehicle is being driven. This then feels like you’re driving on rumble strips.

One thing to check for is if any of the rear tires are showing any evidence of cupping. If so, that tire is bouncing from a worn strut.

If you want to see what this looks like, go to YOUTUBE and type in “Tire Bounce” in their search engine. It’s the third video down.


These kinds of problems can be tough to track down. I attribute the new vibration to wear and tear unless you tell me the car was in an accident, or hit a curb or something usual. There are lots of CV joints and drive shafts in this car. I think you are getting the vibration from a bad, or going bad CV joint. Which one is the question?

Try to determine if the vibration seems to come via the steering wheel, or more in the seat of your pants. Steering wheel means check the front end joints and suspension. Seat of the pants means check the rear.

A tire out of balance, or a tire that is experiencing tread separation can cause a vibration. There a lots of things to check before you isolate the exact problem.

The new vibration may well have coincided with the new struts. And the stiffer ride undoubtably does.
Struts that are shot can absorb vibrations from a out-of-balance or otherwise defective tire, then when you change the struts the vibration seems to suddenly appear. It’s also possible that the worn out struts caused erratic tire wear, scalloping perhaps, that you now feel.

Good shops will be able to do a “roaf force ballancing” on the wheels. That’ll detect internal tire defects, anomolies, and many erratic wear conditions. Find a shop that does this.

Also remember that an erratically operating engine can vibrate at specific frequencies. Be sure that the maintenance is up to date and that the engine operation is checked.

I have exactly the same thing happen in my 1997 CRV. It happens periodically like you describe - it seems like a little roughness in the road at a very specific speed seems to set it off, but I can’t get it to happen on demand. To stop it, all I have to do is to slow down. It’s been happening infrequently, for years, and since I can stop it immediately, I decided not to worry about it. I have never remembered to ask at the mechanic’s, but suspension has been checked periodically and I’ve had several sets of tires, so my inexpert theory is just a certain resonance at a certain speed.