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Help Tom and Ray with a bad case of the shakes

This week on Car Talk, what do you do when your car has a bad case of the shakes? In this case, Tom and Ray weren't sure. And they need your help!

Here’s the scoop: Mike from Hamden, Massachusetts has an '07 Toyota FJ cruiser that shakes like a washing machine in full spin cycle – but only at 28 and 46 MPH.

Our humble hosts thought the problem might be a bad tire. Or a bent driveshaft. But, really, they had no idea. So much so, that they took out Car Talk’s roulette wheel of automotive misfortune, and took it for a spin – a sure sign that they’re having trouble coming up with an answer that passes the sniff test.

You can hear the Mike’s call with Tom and Ray right here.

Think you know what’s going on? Got a suggestion for Mike? Great! Share it right here – and help calm two shaky hosts and one very shaky Toyota.

I am a car idiot, but I used to have a truck that did this same thing. The problem ended up being that the fuel line condensed moisture and water was getting shot into the engine when it was cold or going up hill.

I think that Mike should take it to a transmission shop and have it evaluated for a torque converter clutch engagement problem.

This may sound weird, but in the far past when most cars had rear wheel drive,this type of issue sometimes meant the driveshaft was: (1) out of round, in which case, you needed a replacement - hopefully not out of round or (2) the weight(s) used to balance the driveshaft broke off and the driveshaft is out of balance. Very rarely, the u-joint clamps were loose or not tightened evenly.


2007 how many miles? It sounds drive train related, esp if it it 4wd. Have the tires been rotated?

I have a 2002 RAV4 and it also has the shakes… well more like driving over marbles and producing a distinct wobble. What has been eliminated: the tires (all good), alignment, balance, drive shaft (replaced), front struts (replaced), rear struts in good shape… turn off the engine and the wobble continues. This wobble is present from start and never leaves, is not in concert with the speed of the car. Is not effecting steering but can be felt in the steering wheel as a vibration. Car runs fine if you can ignore the WOBBLES. My mechanic and the Toyota mechanics just shrug… what is it???

I have a solution, one gallon of fuel and matches!!

Sounds like driveline angle problem. I wonder if the links in the rear suspension are loose, allowing the the axle to piviot when acclerating.

It might help to know if manual or auto tranny = full time or part time 4WD = front drive shaft turning or not? Have you greased the slip joint in the shafts and the other non replaced u-joints? Was the u-joint you had replaced bad? Had the drive shaft been taken loose before the u-joint replacement? There are several online forums that might be more vehicle specific than CarTalk -

2002 RAV4 with the wobble. If you can imagine your RAV4 as a 1933 Crysler with “Floating Power” you can ignore the wobbles. Seriously, “Floating Power” was the first use of flexible engine mounts ad the engine and front of car had a tendency to shake. I would like to suggest that both cars have their engine mounts checked to see if any are broken or loose. My persoal experience is my Saturn which had a vibration at several different speeds, found out it was a broken motor mount that could not be seen by quick visual inspection.


How is the FJ geared? Is it turning the same rpms at a steady 28mph in one gear as it does at 46mph in the next gear? If so the problem is more likely to be sympathetic vibration with the engine rather than two different harmonics in the tires (or anything else after the transmission); and oldmotorist’s motor mount suggestion (or something similar) seems like the ticket.

If the shake is more or less like driving over a wash board he could have a problem with ignition coils in one or more cylinders.

I have almost the same problem with my 2006 V6 Automatic Tundra: feels like you are running over a washboard between 35 to 45 mph (worse in cooler weather). Toyota dealer checked the transmision and said it was bad tires, the tire dealer thought the same. All tires tested good. Tires were balanced and rotated, but the problem is still there. Looking for help as well.

I have a GMC Jimmy that had a similar problem. I was convinced it was a driveline issue because it only happened at certain speeds (mine was like 40-60 range). My mechanic found a broken right rear shock mount and after that was repaired the vibration went away.

tire delamination is not visible but will cause this kind of thing.

I too have had this trouble with my FJ cruiser (07 early production bought in Aug.06)
the trouble with mine was the rear diff. and have this replaced under warr. this is most likly the trouble there is also a TSB on the rear of the FJ.
Good luck
Member and one of the founding Fathers of The FJ Bruisers.


exorcism may be needed

I agree with checking the motor mounts. Also transmission mounts.

I too have a 2007 FJ Cruiser. I too had the shakes. And it somehow stopped at 60 MPH.

4 brand new tires and an alignment solved the issue. Good luck.