When I drive my 145,000 mile Hondy Odyssey van, the steering wheel shakes and vibrates - enough I have to work to keep it straight. It’s worse in the 20-40 mph range. What does this mean? I want to know before I take it in so I’m not “taken” (I’m a single Mom) but I also need to know if I’m risking our lives by driving it. PLEASE HELP!!!
I would really have the front end checked out to be centered.
even check to see if the weight on the tires are still there.
If you are lucky, it will just turn out to be tires that are badly out of balance. Or, it could be a defective tire. However, it is also possible that you could have badly worn components in the suspension/steering gear of the car.
No matter what the cause is, you should drive this car VERY slowly to the nearest competent mechanic for evaluation and repair. The cost could be negligible (in the case of balancing), or it could be substantial, in the event that you need front end repairs. However, this is not something that can be deferred as you are endangering yourself, your passengers, and those around you on the road if you continue to drive the vehicle in this condition.
Badly worn or damaged front end components could fail suddenly and leave you with no ability to steer, and that is not something to fool around with.
Based on your description, it would be hard to tell how expensive this might be or how simple the repair might be (it is possible that all you might need would be a tire balancing, but it isn’t likely).
But without knowing, there are far too many things which could be causing this that are VERY SERIOUS safety concerns to dismiss. Therefore, unless you can say that you know it is a simple problem, it should be treated as a serious safety problem and really should only be driven to the mechanic.
The vehicle needs to be inspected to determine the cause of the steering wheel shake. It could be anything from worn tires to worn tie rod ends. Until you have the front end inspected, it’s not safe to drive the vehicle.
It is hard to say if this is dangerous because we cannot determine from your description the exact cause of the problem. But whatever it is, you will attend to it eventually so you might as well do it ASAP. There’s nothing to be gained by putting it off.
We understand your concern about being taken. But even a knowledgeable car owner will have to take the word of a front-end specialist. Ask your friends to recommend a reliable shop.
As everyone has said, take it to a shop for an inspection soon. Could be front suspension or belts in the tires that have broken. Don’t forget to check the brakes. Warped rotors normally show shakes at low speeds but it is possible at high speeds if severely warped.
“the steering wheel shakes and vibrates - enough I have to work to keep it straight”
THAT is dangerous. Your mechanic can tell you if there are other things that are dangerous.