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Mercury Villager Shakes at Highway Speeds (65-80mph)


I have a 1996 Mercury Villager GS. The car shakes at 65mph on the highway. The vehicle drives nicely up to about 60mph and then the shaking begins. The car has had alignment and wheel balancing work done to try and resolve the issue. The vehicle does not pull to one side or the other. The tires are Good Year Weather Handler LS 215/75/R15 and they are fitted to Mercury’s OEM Alloy wheels. The wheels have some superficial scratches and scrapes but they are not bent. The tires are in good shape and do not show any abnormal wear. I know the struts are no longer good on the front end. I have been told that one of the ty-rods needs to be replaced. Could this be the issue? Additionally, the struts have worn out due to the mileage. Can anyone speak to what they think the problem is? When I take the car on the occasional 100 mile highway journey, the shaking/vibration causes the tailgate door to partially open. Don’t want to spend too much on repairs. Thanks for taking the time to review this question.

Yes, a worn tie rod end could cause this. In addition, worn out struts will contribute to excess tire wear. You should have the struts replaced and get a new tie rod end, which will necessitate another wheel alignment.

Who does alignments with a known bad tie rod end?

If it’s shaking that badly the tailgate comes open I’d say you need to fix it ASAP. This is not a financial issue, it’s a safety issue. Fix it.

This is a safety issue.
You already know that the tie rods are worn out, which is not surprising on a 14 year old vehicle (albeit with unknown odometer mileage).
Apparently, the front struts are also due for replacement, which is not unusual, given the age of the vehicle.

My recommendations are as follows:

Have the best front-end shop in town check the entire front end and replace whatever needs to be replaced. This could include tie rods, struts, ball joints, and perhaps even the steering rack.
Take the vehicle out on the highway in order to see if there is improvement.
If there is no improvement, have the tires balanced by a shop that does Road Force Balancing. This is more expensive than “regular” dynamic wheel balancing, and not that many shops have this equipment, but in some cases only this type of balancing will remedy a problem like yours.

Do not continue to tolerate this problem, as the shaking is ultimately damaging and could cause worn/weakened front end components to–literally–snap, thus leaving you with no steering control.
This is a definite safety issue that needs to be dealt with promptly.
If you do not have the funds to deal with it right now, the vehicle needs to be parked until you do have the funds.