Mazda Shimmy

I have a 2001 Mazda Millenia with 163,000. When I am at speeds of 35 mph and above the front end shimmys when I accelerate or any time the front wheels are pulling the car (ie, there is no shimmy when I brake or coast). To remedy the situation I got new balanced tires and a front end alignment, but the problem remains. Any suggestions? I’m all shook up!

I think you need to have the entire front suspension checked out. This could be tie rod ends or other areas of serious wear in the suspension, and it is quite dangerous. Sudden failure would lead to loss of control.

I’ll have the mechanic look at the tie rod. The vibration can be extremely bad – as if the wheels are going to shake off.

Grab the front tires at the top and pull in and out. Try the same thing at the 3 O’clock and 9 O’clock positions. The wheels should be more or less rock solid except that you may be able to reaim the steering a bit when pulling and pushing the sides. Any little jumps, squiggles, etc indicate a problem – loose wheel, bad wheel bearing, bad tie rod end, etc.

If in doubt, try the same thing with some friends cars and see how they feel.

Don’t put this off. It could be something minor, but there’s a good chance that it is a significant safety issue.

If it is specifically associated with acceleration/pulling and goes away when you coast then I’d first suspect a CV joint problem (axle/halfshaft) - likely an inner joint. The engine and transmission mounts should also be carefully inspected.

It only occurs with acceleration/pulling. Sometimes it feels like the engine is moving up and down under the hood. I first noticed it shortly after having the timing belt replaced. Could having the timing belt replaced have anything to do with the current problem?

There are some timing belt replacement procedures that c/would involve loosening and/or removing an engine mount. I don’t know the procedure on the millenia, but it is possible that a mount was loosened or removed and not re-installed correctly.

Have the tierod ends & control arms checked to see if they are loose. Also have the ball joints checked.

Our 1999 Millenia had a shimmy which involved the torque converter. Added 10 oz bottle
of LubeGuard(green lid) to transmission and problem went away within 50 miles.

Just in case do any check engine lights come on? if so get it checked as a few similar situations have been mis firing cylinders.