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Car is "Wobbly" and loud

I have a 2008 Pontiac G6 GT. I loved my card until I had to replace the rotors and changed to an all-weather tire. Now, I can feel a vibration in the steering column; a vibration in the seat and floor; there is a noise in the front of the engine when I am going over bumpy or icy roads; and the car pulls to the left when I have been stopped at a light or an intersection. Oh - When re-starting on a slightly icy or gravel-y road, I also get a sound that sounds like gears grinding – not like the traction control is kicking in.
Frustratingly enough – the car can go from feeling like it is driving “tight” – like the power steering is out – to driving “loose” like the steering wheel is ready to fall off the car and vibrates like it never has before. No one notices the vibration but me (which is frustrating because I have driven my car over 30,000 miles, and what seems “normal” to others, is not “normal” to me). Help?

When symptoms pop up immediately after a maintenance action, alway return to the shop that did the work and let them know. There are a number of things that could be causing your issues, one of which is that they didn’t tighten down the lug nuts properly. This could be dangerous so go back quickly.

Other things could be a defective rotor, bent rims or an out of balance tire. Out of balance tire is the most likely suspect, but some tire changing equipment was bad about bending rims if not carefully used.

Did you get a front end alignment?

Keith - Thank you for the response. I had my both of my parents take the car out and have also had it back in the shop. While my mother has heard the “gear grinding” noise and agrees that it sounds different than the traction control kicking in, neither of my parents notice the (arguably subtle) but persistent vibration. My father has heard the ‘knocking’ noise coming from the engine area, but nothing else. (Frustrating because know my car is handling differently, but it is hard articulating that to others or, of course, having the car exhibit said problems on command.)
The guy at the shop said they re-balanced the tires and checked a number of different things, but his best solution was to take the car to the dealer and let them try to find a solution (“because these are great tires”).
I had no alignment issues prior to taking the vehicle in. The car only has about 45,000 miles on it and the original reason I took the car in was a flat tire. While I had the car in, I asked them to check the brakes and the rotors due to some squealing and wobbling. Thus, the recommendation for new rotors (which they said were bad enough to be replaced, rather than simply turned).
I would be inclined to believe something was defective/bent/not screwed in or tightened properly, due to the “feeling” of the car now, as well as a “pattern” of repetition the wobbliness seems to have – recurring every 50 ft or so (like I am going down a road with rumble strips that are spaced over a set distance). The steering wheel also feels “loose” when going over an icy or bumpy road.
Otherwise, I feel like the company misrepresented their tires. I understand the concept of “road noise,” but before the flat tire, I was driving on the original tires and the vehicle drove as smooth as butter with no noise. I didn’t buy the most expensive tire I could have, but it certainly wasn’t the cheapest, either.

I once bought a set of Continentals for a vehicle I had and no matter how hard I tried I could not get those tires to ride smoothly. I ended up having them all changed out for BF Goody’s.

If you can find a shop that has a machine capable of doing “road force balancing”, this process will find tire faults that a regular balancer cannot. I suggest having them checked on one of these machines. It’s only slightly more expensive than a regular balance.

At this mileage you’re due for an alignment too.

And… what was the cause of the flat? If it was a pothole, you may have a bent rim or even suspension damage. It should be checked out. This should be done when you get the alignment done.

Im not even gonna try to guess at this one. But something should be easily determined out of whack. Methinks some very obvious items are being overlooked here.

Also replacement rotors can be had for as low as 18 EACH…and they are made out of Dog Poop and painted to look like metal. Be very wary when replacing rotors…none behave as nice as OEM Usually… Some companies take pride in their aftermarket rotors…but others do not…and run when you ask for a warranty replacement. Brake calipers that are going bad will also lock up …sometimes lock up hard…other times…semi-lock. This will fry almost any rotor…the test is to measure the rotor temp after a leisurely drive…there are other methods as well.

Sounds like someone needs to take a cursory exam of this G6… Shouldnt be hard to diagnose. Not with all these symptoms.


@"the same mountainbike"
I have never heard of road force balancing vs just balancing a tire, but the ‘wobble’ I am experiencing appears to seem slight or normal to others, while being incredibly apparent and obvious to me. Since I wrote my first post, I taken my car back to the first shop. They re-balanced and checked a few things, but said the tires are great and everything seemed normal to them. The only difference I notice in driving my car afterwards, though, is that the knocking noise from the front of the car seems to have lessened slightly.
Cause of the flat was old tires and consistent cold temperatures/ice. I woke up and found the tire was flat when I went to drive.
The rest of the repair happened because I asked the shop to check out what I thought would amount to nothing more than worn brake pads.

@"Honda Blackbird"
I would like to think so, too (something should be easily showing up as out of whack), as I think the problem seems incredibly noticeable. However, I’m the primary driver and I know my car.
I think my car went from handling like a coupe to handling like an SUV, which is why I think folks who have driven my car when I’ve asked them to don’t observe the problem as it could be looked at as ‘normal’ road noise for someone who drives an SUV or a larger vehicle.
That does not leave room for the noise in the front, though. Nor does it account for what, to me, sounds like gears grinding rather than traction control. The car is simply locking up or spinning out at times it should be handling just fine.
I continue to be frustrated by the problem, so will have to take the vehicle to someone else.

You’ve got quite a few issues. I’d start with the vibration problem, b/c the solution to that might solve the other problems too. Ask a shop you trust to measure the run out on all the tires, both side to side, and for out of round. You may just have gotten some bad luck on the new tires. Did you check your tire selection with what Consumer Reports says in their tire recommendation report?

I’ll add as a diy’er, with all these symptoms appearing immediately afterward, I’d be suspicious something went wrong with the tire install job. The first thing I’d do if this happened to me, is remove and reinstall each wheel by hand, not using an air impact wrench. Torqueing the lug nuts by hand in the correct lug-nut sequence for each step, and in three steps, 1/3 , 2/3, then the final one to the manufacturer’s torque spec for the lug nuts. That’s to make sure the wheel attaches to the hub correctly. Also make sure the shop used the correct lug nuts for the vehicle. Sometimes shops – working on a half dozen cars at the same time – will accidentally swap the lug nuts from one car to another.

Sometimes (Not Usually, But It Does Happen, Through No Fault Of Mechanic) When Caliper Pistons Are Manually Retracted, Necessary When Replacing Brake Pads/Brake Rotors, They Can Stick, Stick Intermittently, Or Drag. The Heat Created Can Damage Brake Pads And Rotors.

This can cause some of the symptoms you describe. Also, I’m wondering if a wire to an ABS wheel speed sensor or the sensor were compromised when work was done.

Do you know if you had organic, semi-metallic, or ceramic brake pads installed? Take a look at each wheel as you walk around the car. Compare the way they look. Are any of the wheels dustier or dirtier than the others. If so it could be a sign of a sticking brake caused by a faulty caliper or ABS/traction control triggering improperly.

Sometimes (Not Usually, But It Does Happen, Through No Fault Of Mechanic) When Caliper Pistons Are Manually Retracted, Necessary When Replacing Brake Pads/Brake Rotors, They Can Stick, stick intermittently, or drag. The heat created can damage brake rotors.

I don’t see how that can generate enough heat do any type of damage. The heat would be caused by energy transfer. You don’t need to apply that much energy to push the pistons back in. What might be happening is they aren’t opening the bleeder when they push the piston back.

"I don’t see how that can generate enough heat do any type of damage. The heat would be caused by energy transfer. You don’t need to apply that much energy to push the pistons back in."

Mike I agree, it doesn’t take a lot of energy to push (or turn in some cases) the pistons back in, but if they begin to drag or stick, as sometimes happens, there will be plenty of heat created, sometimes even smoke and a burning smell, not to mention damaged pad and rotor.


Do this simple test…requires NO tools at all. Go for a 20 minute drive…hopefully bring the car to a stop several times during said drive. When you get back home get out of the car and put your fingers on the metal of the lug nuts that hold the wheel on. They should feel warmish…and they should feel equally warmish. If one side is warm and the other HOT…you just found your hanging caliper and the source of many of your driveability issues.

I often use this rudimentary check just to quickly see whats up…then I whip out the infrared non contact thermometer and aim it at the rotors… Many times the temp discrepancy is Vast between the two. I have solve many many problems this way.

Calipers start to fail in funny ways as they age. It may have been about 10 yrs ago that I learned why the caliper piston pulls itself back in and off of the pad and why they stop doing this in varying degrees as the unit ages. Turns out its the caliper piston seal…its round with flat squarish edges…this is what seals the piston, allows it to travel outward and upon doing so it gets deflected or warped in a certain manner that when pressure is removed…it pulls the piston back into the caliper ever so slightly. This removes the drag that locked up calipers always present with…it happens slowly over time…as the seal hardens up and becomes less flexible it stops pulling the piston back into the caliper. This will happen as soon as the rubber seal starts to harden…and the caliper with hang in varying degrees all along the way as the seal hardens.

Took me a long while to figure out something so simple…but I never cared to know, until I cared to know. I now rebuild my own calipers for pennies instead of having someone else simply replace a rubber seal for me…its cheap, easy and effective. No problemo…if it is my vehicle I do it all the time…for others however in the interest of time and for warranty concerns…I will replace with new or rebuilt units.


Mike I agree, it doesn't take a lot of energy to push (or turn in some cases) the pistons back in, but if they begin to drag or stick, as sometimes happens

That makes sense.

It sounds like you are dissatisfied with the feel and performance of your new tires, what is the brand and model of tire that you have now and which tires did you have before?