Dangerous to drive car needs repairs

I have a 99 corolla. The steering has been slowly getting worse and worse. I remember the shocks had to be replaced about a year ago, but the shop I went to didn’t replace the whole assembly as I expected. Also the wheels are not always balanced and aligned frequently enough, I know.

Today, if I drive the car, I have to sometimes make very concise adjustments to keep it from what feels like losing control at higher speeds, but lower speeds feel only slightly awkward. It is also very easily affected by the wind from a passing Mac truck as well as larger vehicles, which make it very dangerous to drive on the highways.

I should also note there is mild vibration in the steering column, but I really don’t think that’s the problem affecting it.

What could be the problem, what assemblies would be involved, how is it fixed, and how much does it cost normally?

don’t worry abut the cost of the repairs…think of how the condition of the front end could cost you your life or someone else! Get the front suspension inspected ASAP!

It’s easy to claim get it fixed ASAP but I almost never drive the thing anyway. It gets driven around maybe once a week average usually about 10 miles on local roads. It is of course possible the amount of winds on the highway play into it as well. Lighter cars are known for their ability to be “kicked” around by the wind.

However, that still doesn’t answer my question, and answering my question would undoubtedly at least help assess my problem better and potentially be life saving, so I appreciate your level of concern, but it doesn’t exactly help me when I have a very limited budget. What would help is knowing what to start on and where to go with it. I don’t have good enough credit to just go down the street and tell someone “fix it”.

If I did, surely, I wouldn’t be in the fine mess.

The where to start is a physical inspection of the whole suspension system (steering rack, front end for sure) and an assessment of what needs to be replaced. Suggest you go to a place like Sears and get a free inspection and what is probably a worse case estimate. That will give you a ballpark $$ estimate and a good idea of what needs to be replaced and the associated costs. I would not necessarily get the work done at Sears (I have had good suspension work done at Sears but have also seen how they can try to sell unneeded services, too).

Post that info back, and a bit more precise help may be provided.

Go to an alignment shop now get a quote and get back to us. Any vague feeling that severe is going to kill you or someone else. Please get a quote NOW.

Sell the car, cancel the insurance and take a taxi or rent a car, if you only drive ten miles once a week it will be a lot cheaper.

It’s easy to claim get it fixed ASAP but I almost never drive the thing anyway

Then I would suggest selling it. I sure hope you are not driving it on the same roads I use. Consider the other drivers and passengers who may be injured. Fix it or sell it.

We’re obviously older and of more substantial means here. Otherwise you wouldn’t hear as much “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!” type responses. It happens as you age. You only remember the bad things that happened over a whole lifetime and forget the learning curve and struggle you had in the learning. Eventually you end up compensating for everything and are actually over compensating for just about everything. We’re also typically speaking from a status that has most of our economic challenges well behind us.

That said and accounted for ;^) …does the car seem to have a hard time tracking straight on a straight road? That is, without too much road crown or cross wind, are you constantly correcting the steering … you can’t “find your line”? That may be toe out. Toe in tends to give you a “plowing” sensation with a semi-dead band at center as you have to bias the steering more for correction. Toe out, otoh, takes very little wheel input to send the car left or right. It’s not as noticeable at lower speeds. It would/could produce the static vibration that you feel.

I’ll reason that this is an alignment issue. If it was some worn suspension part I would expect more variable and sudden onset …and it would be FULL TIME regardless of your road speed. Only the severity would increase in your having to deal with it.

Good luck!

UC . . . you are risking your life but also the lives of other people who might be unlucky enough to cross paths with you. Please don’t drive the car and get it to a local mechanic who can look things over and give you what you’re asking of us. Obviously we can’t see your car from here and can’t offer any advice which would be helpful because you cannot describe the problems beyond your “feelings” about how it drives and so forth. You may be a miles short of anything coming apart and killing yourself! Rocketman

That’s tracking tends to be an issue, but it could be suspension too, as there seems to be some randomness to it.

Look, if you think I’m trying to avoid fixing it, I’m not, so please stop shoving the same message down my throat. I don’t have much money…at all…and all I want to know is how to fix it cheaply and efficiently. If you can’t answer that ONE SIMPLE QUESTION, then please don’t post.

I feel bad enough during the holidays without you all giving me the same obvious advice over and over and over and over again like a stupid broken record. I don’t need to feel any more depressed. ALL I NEED IS AN ANSWER.

Thank you.

The proper way to answer a question is how the poster wants it answered, and in order so solve the problem, you should do the following:

  1. Try to find the assembly affected (Thanks geeaea.)

  2. Look through a symptom list for problems when possible.
    (ie - http://autorepair.about.com/od/troubleshooting/a/ts_suspesnion.htm)

  3. Check maintenance cycles/tasks for expected lapses that could cause this kind of issue.

  4. Check for problems per make/model that could cause this kind of problem.

  5. When in doubt, check with people who have mechanical knowledge to make a more expert determination, and if need be hire said person.

If you don’t know about the first four steps, I am generally expecting not to hear from you.


first you didn’t state you use the car infrequently…second no one can precisely answer your question until the car is fully inspected and third, it is obvious you haven’t posted to or read this site before …comments and opinions come left and right…this is what you get when you post online.

ohhhh…now I see UCFirefly. Thank you for the lesson. Are you stoned?

You posted something that said you are knowingly driving a car that is dangerous. Your description, while you might think it very smart and well thought out, points to any large number of problems that need actual inspection. And you’re all uppity b/c people tell you to get it into a shop before you hurt yourself and/or others?

While you might think that there is some magic way to internet your way to a simple and cheap solution, your assumption makes it clear that you know so little about cars that this will not be the case. Shut up, take the damn thing to alignment shop, and please do not lecture this board.

Ok - mental note -> “Forums may include people resembling undesirable family members.” Okay, let’s try to keep this on topic. Does somebody know what “blinker fluid” is? I think that might be the solution to my problems.

“Does somebody know what “blinker fluid” is? I think that might be the solution to my problems.”

Well, at least you are maintaining a sense of humor regarding the dangerous condition of your car.
You were making jest, I hope.

That being said, this situation comes down to a question of responsibility on your part. Whether you drive the car once a week, or more often, the problem(s) that you described surely constitutes a safety issue.

If you wind up killing someone, do you really think that the state of your finances or how often the car is driven would form an adequate defense in a “death by auto” case? While you are interpreting some of our responses as hostile, in reality we are attempting to prevent auto fatalities (possibly including yours) and also to prevent criminal charges and civil suits against you.

It is likely that repairing the car will not be cheap. If you can’t currently afford to have the car inspected and repaired (probably several hundred $$), just park it until you do have the funds for inspection of the front end and replacement of the worn parts. That would be the responsible thing to do.


I’m thinking of flagging the original post.

Something is obviously amiss in your suspension. Ask for a trusty shop from friends, family, coworkers, neighbors whatever and get quote and then 2nd quote. There are so many assemblies possibly involved its not worth listing them. It will not help the mechanic to give them your wild but eduacted guesses. Ask the mechanic to show you the issue if possible.

This is impossible to diagnose over the internet unfortunately.

good luck

Agreed, a definite troll.

It never ceases to amaze me how people come to this forum and demand free help.
They give very vague and sketchy clues to the problem and then demand a specific diagnoses. And most say they have no money for repairs in the first place…

Driving your car down the road is not a right, it is a privilege with responsibilities attached. Your actions affect everyone in your general area.
It’s obvious you want affirmation that the car’s safe to drive every once in a while, and maybe there’s just a bolt loose somewhere that’ll cost a buck to fix.
Most likely, neither are true.

If it’s not safe to drive, then don’t.


Thanks for all of the lovely advice and social commentary, but this forum is worthless as they come, so flag the thread and see if I care.