my buick’s steering wheel vacillates back and forth 1 to 2 inches a low speeds, the car vibrates like hell at various freeway speeds; vibration significantly reduces when i let up on the gas. front end was aligned and wheels are balanced! could it be the cv joints? the car is a 96.
Play in the steering should be less than one inch, as a rule of thumb, but your manual will specify the limit. Can be caused by several different components in the steering linkage, can be DANGEROUS to life and limb, so needs to be diagnosed by a pro soon. The vibration may well be linked to the same cause, and is a sign of DANGER also to be soon diagnosed by a pro. Get thee to an independent repair shop.
I had a 98 Windstar that had the low speed oscillation in the steering wheel. If I took my hands off the wheel between 5-20 mph the steering wheel would move back and forth a couple of inched. My mechanic diagnosed it as a “slipped or shifted belt” in the right front tire. The tire was replaced and the low speed oscillation went away.
How old are the tires, I experienced a vibration between 40-50 mph in a 88 Chevrolet Beretta (similar in size to the Skylark) when the original tires were nearing the end of their life. Four new tires fixed that problem.
Who balanced the tires? A local mechanic or a chain shop? Were the tires rotated to see if that helps the vibration? If a chain did the work, I suggest taking it an independent mechanic and have the front end checked thoroughly.
CV joints are a very slight possibility, but I think it sounds more like a bad tire. This should be obvious to a good tire technician. Try taking it to a good front end shop to see what they say. You could even see this yourself if the wheel and tire are on a balancer. You will see a jog in the tire as it spins. A bent rim is also a good possibility, once again should have been caught when the wheels were balanced.