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Camry 99 CE Major Vibration of steering wheel

Hi I am having issues with what seems to be the steering wheel vibrating when driving. Now the whole front end might be vibrating but where I feel it and see it is in the steering wheel. It vibrates so much my arms shake like I am drilling a hole in asphalt with one of those drill things they use. This isn’t the entire time I drive it and will happen intermittenly and at various speeds. This is what I have had recently done that I thought might make it stop. I had both front rotors replaced. My passenger side front tire rod was bent and had both the inner and outer tire rods replaced. I had my torque strut engine mount replaced. Have had my car aligned and it has gotten 4 new tires and had them balanced. I am at a loss and the times I have had people drive it to see what they can it of course doesn’t shake for them. I appreciate any help or input into this. Thanks in advance.

Post note…just recently someone suggested it might be the velocity joints. But then someone else said the kind of noise you would get with that would be a knocking noise. Also then found out that velocity joints are the CV joints. Is that right?

The problem might be caused from worn out front struts.

When a strut becomes worn, it no longer dampens the spring motion. When reaching a certain speed or hitting a bump the tire can start bouncing up and down like a basketball while driving down the road. This is called tire hop. This sometimes goes away if the vehicle is slowed down.

If possible, have someone drive along side you down the freeway, and when you feel this vibration give them the thumbs up, and have them check if either of the front tires are bouncing up and down as the vehicle is moving down the road.

Yes. Constant Velocity joint.


The problem is that it happens at not just different speeds but different times. Like sometimes it happens when I drive 55 and sometimes it doesn’t happen when I go 55. Sometimes I drive for an hour without it doing it It can happen at pretty much any speed over 40-45 any time and then other times it drives with absolutley no problems, no vibrations. It will sometimes last only 5 minutes sometimes like 10-15 minutes then it goes away.

The shaking drill is called an “impact drill”.

Yeah, I think Tester us right, It could easily be the struts. And yes, worn out struts can do exactly what you describe.

My suggestion would be to take it to a reputable chassis shop, tell them the symptoms, and have them look at it up on the rack. They should check all the articulating joints and the ball joints for wear, and they may even check the wheels & tires on a balancer that simulates road force with a spinning drum. That can detect irregularities that regular spin balancers cannot.

And, yup, they’re CV joints.

Hi thanks again for all the help. So I just had it checked out again at a shop. They said the front ernd was tight and fine with no problems. They checked all the struts and joints and bearings and still can’t find the problem. I guess it is just something that will have to get worse before it shows itself. I am just concerned that it might be faulty metal in the steering wheel column and that it might break and leave me with no steering. I only wonder this because of a google search I did on this problem and found a site where someone said Toyota has been known to use faulty metal in the steering wheel columns as far back as 95’. I asked the mechanic at the shop about this and he seemed to think that that isn’t the roblem though. I really hope not … sounds scary a steering wheel breaking like that. So if anyone has any other suggestions or thoughts on this I would love to hear them. My last thought…if it’s not the front end could it be the rear end?

Someone just mentioned maybe it is bent rims. If it was bent rims wouldn’t it be vibrating all the time?

Probably, yes.

I would not discount Tester’s original suggestion about struts. The fact that it is intermittent in terms of both time & speed doesn’t do away with that possibility.

Unless, of course, it has any connection at all to acceleration. Does it? If it starts going and you pull your foot completely off the accelerator does the vibration go away? Or vice versa?

Have the inner tie rods been checked in addition to the outer?

Yes both inner and outer tired rods have been checked and I did have the left tire rod both inner and outer replaced. It doesn’t come on at accleration. It will just suddenly come on and sometimes last 5 minutes sometimes 10 or more. I also slipped it into neutral and it still shaked so I was told that it isn’t the transmission or drive train. The two places I had check it out said the front end was fine and said nothing about struts. Is the struts in the front end? When they checked it out they saif the front end was tight and fine and he couldn’t find anything wrong. So if it is the struts is that something they would check when inspecting the front end for problems? Thanks for your help I really appreciate yours and everyone else’s input.

just a bump to ask a question about where struts are located. Had my front end checked and said was fine. Do they check struts when they inspect a car for its front end?

Yes, they would check the struts as they are crucial to the front end. The struts are basically your front shocks, though an actual strut is different from a shock. They have a coil spring over top of them and a pivoting bearing on top b/c they have to turn when you turn the steering wheel. This is sort of an ok picture:

As the car goes over bumps in the road the job of the strut (along with the spring) is to absorb the bump so that little of it transmits to the car body - they basically bounce up and down under the car so that you don’t have to do the bouncing. As Tester said, once they go they can just keep bouncing or not handle the load of the bumps.

A static check of struts in the shop may not show any and all problems. Its not always a simple thing to tell if things are bad or not. Did anyone drive the car and experience the vibration?

Well thats the thing…I did have two mechanic people drive it and of course it didn’t do it when they were driving. In fact they said when they drove it it drove totaly fine and smooth with no problems. Now the shop that I took it to when it first started happening did drive it and they said yes it was shaking/vibrating violently and they are the ones after they checked it out who said I needed new rotors, new torque engine mount, inner and outer left tire rods, and were the ones that did the alignment and new tires which I had all fixed. They had told me though they were not sure that those issues were what causing the vibration. All I can say is it shakes my arms like I am using a jackhammer on pavement. Well thank you for your help…hopefully the mystery will present itself soon.

just a bump…hoping to get some more ideas. Thanks.

Now something new. Now my car is making a squealing/screeching noise when I am in reverse backing up and then also a similar noise when I go to the right any slightest bit. I don’t know if it is a related problem to my vibrating steering wheel opr not but hoping to get some ideas on what the noise might be. Again thanks for everyones help.

Did you ever find out what the problem with your vibrating vehicle was? I have a 2000 Camry and it has been vibrating for about 4 weeks. The tires are fairly new and when I brought the vehicle into Town Fair Tire 2 weeks ago, they balanced and aligned it. The vibration happens at varying speeds and at varying times (not all the time). It is getting worse, where I can feel the vibration from the steering wheel all the way up my arms now. I’m, ofcourse, worried about safety since I’m on the highway for most of my commute each day at high speeds. Any insight would be helpful as I am worried about bringing the car somewhere and being charged for work that does not take care of the problem. Thanks.