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Is it my struts?

Recently my steering wheel has begun to vibrate, but only at speeds of over 50-55 mph. It increases as the speed does and decreases as the speed decreases. The vibration happens when my foot is off and on the gas peal. Could this be struts? I was recently told that they were bad when I got a 4 wheel alignment.

It could be. When struts/shocks wear out, they can no longer hold the tire to the road. When this happens, you can reach a speed where the harmonics build to a point where a tire can start bouncing up and down causing a vibration. This is called wheel hop. My advice? If you were told the struts are worn, and now you have this vibration? I’d start with a strut repacement.


When I read the op’s post, the first thing that came to mind was wheels out of balance.

You likely have both problems - a tire that is not round or is out of balance, and a bad strut. The tire bounce probably hastened the demise of the strut. Make sure you get the tires spun balanced if you invest in new struts.

Spun balanced? What is that? Will that be done during an alignment?

No. Spin balancing is a separate procedure, performed on the tires/wheels.

Wait a minute guys & gals. Before you sink the money into the struts and having the tires balanced check to see if it a bad tire. These symptoms occur also when a tire has a broken belt inside of it.

Have any of you guys used the type of balancer that spun the tire up while it was still mounted to the car? I have only seen one.Did they give good results.I have never used a bubble balancer either.

I’ve had tire balanced all three ways - bubble balanced, spin balance off car, spin balance on car. I prefer spin balance off car. I think the time I had them balanced on car contributed to the failure of my differential (can’t be sure, but is happened shortly afterward).

Hmm, I just got new tires recently, so I don’t think that that could be the problem. Also, the back of the car shakes, not just the steering wheel. By that I mean that I can hear my cargo cover rattle. I should have clarified that. I am assuming it is the struts cuz the steering wheel vibrates as does the cargo cover.

Sorry for the lame sounding post everybody

Spin balance on the car will always be out of balance at some point, possibly two points. I never liked that kind of balance. The thing was old even in the seventies when it was last used on my car. Maybe they just kept it in use too long.

If you stand and watch the guys when you buy new tires, after they mount the tire on the rim, they put the rim and tire on a machine that spins it about 40 mph and tells them where to put the wheel weights to balance the tire. When the tire is spinning on the machine any irregularities in the shape of the wheel or tire are obvious to the technician watching it.

Spin balancing on the car was done by some shops 30-40 years ago. I have not seen one of those machines for a long time.

Yes, you could trash your differential with a spin balance machine. The differential is not meant to run or lubricate itself with the two wheels spinning at dramatically different speeds, but I would expect that you would have to run it for quite a while before you did any damage.

If you have bad struts, they will make the tires wear unevenly, and cause balance problems. The balance problems will cause shaking, and the bad strut will exaggerate the problem, and burn up the tire. I had a similar situation with my wife’s Mazda. New tires and alignment, but had a strut blow out. Within 500 miles, the tire was badly worn unevenly, and garbage.

Well I’m going to go in a different direction here. I’ve seen this exact same symptoms caused by bad tie-rods.

Front ones were bad and repaired when I got the alignment done.

how much did you pay? and did they say it was okay just to do the front? how many miles on your car? and what kind? how is your car running now?

I believe I paid $150 for the two. My car has 128k. It is a Hyundai Accent. Running okay with the exception of the vibration/shakiness. I actually got the struts replaced today and the mechanic drove it and suggested that it might be a balance problem. He told me to get the tires balanced and see if that takes care of the problem.

Also, the tire shop recommended that I get the alignment done again after I get new struts. I asked the mechanic and he said he didn’t think it was necessary because the suspension was good on the test drive. Is this the tire shop trying to get more $ or should I get the tires balanced and aligned?

Oops, sorry. The shop said that the front tie-rods were the bad ones.

Well, if these are original struts, they’re likely worn out at 128k, but the easy way to check struts is the bounce test. Did they fail?

I didn’t do a bounce test. I trusted the tire shop figuring that after almost 128k they’d need replacing.