Severe Vibration

Hello all, I’ve had my 2008 Santa Fe FWD since March of this year (2021). Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve noticed the development of some strong vibrations. I can’t remember if it was a gradual buildup or if it was suddenly worse, but I’m trying to diagnose it and fix the root cause without spending money on absolutely everything that I could do to it all at once.

Symptoms:

  1. “Rocking” back and forth at low speeds (0-30mph): The car feels like a boat being tossed by waves. At first I though it was the road, but then I realized that my car was the only one visibly swaying from side to side.

  2. Scraping sound from front wheel at low speeds (0-30mph): If I roll down the windows, I can hear the front tires scrape on the ground intermittently (at the same frequency of the rocking side to side). It is the same sound as if the car wasn’t moving and I turned the steering wheel, scraping the tires against the ground as they turn.

  3. Strong Vibration at medium speeds (30-60mph): The vibration is strongest in this range of speed. The motion goes from rocking to shaking around 30mph.

  4. Steering Wheel Vibration at high speeds (60mph+): The vibration is the least at this speed range, but the steering wheel still vibrates at a really high frequency.

First I took it to discount tire and had all of the tires examined/balanced/etc. Everything was fine, nothing crazy. This didn’t change anything about the vibration.

Second, I took it to a mechanic and told him to give my suspension a complete inspection. He came back saying that my tie rod ends, driver’s side CV axle, struts, rear sway bar bushings, and rear rim all could use a replacement. However, he said that the main culprit was likely the tie rod ends, which were in bad shape.

After receiving my $4100 estimate from the first mechanic for all the work that my car “needed”, I took it to a different mechanic and told him to look at the suspension as well. This one confirmed that my tie rod ends were in rough shape, and he also said that my CV axle will need to be replaced within the next 6 months. So I had him replace the tie rods, hoping the issue would be fixed. It did made the vibration less by a bit, but all of my symptoms were still present, especially the low speed ones.

I really don’t know what to do. Should I try to fix the next best guess? Is there more I can look into for a possible diagnosis?

Any advice is greatly appreciated!

This could be one front tire with a broken belt or other structural damage. Try the spare tire.

3 Likes

The rocking back & forth is almost always a symptom of a broken anti-sway bar, or anti-sway bar links that are broken. You need to have someone else take a careful look at those areas–front & back.

2 Likes

Did you tell either mechanic about the vibration you were experiencing before you told them to inspect the suspension?

Did anyone inspect the wheel bearings for free play or the wheel hubs for straightness?

4 Likes

@shanonia I will definitely try the spare tire when I’m home. That’s a good idea.

@VDCdriver One of the mechanics did mention that the sway bar bushings were bad and that the link needs replacing. I will definitely have the second mechanic look at the anti-sway bars this weekend.

@Mustangman I pretty much gave him the same rundown as I did here. I told him all about the vibration with the same amount of detail. I don’t believe he inspected the bearings for play or hubs for straightness, but I can have him check this weekend for sure.

Thanks for helping me out guys, you are all being really insightful.

1 Like

You didn’t mention how many miles are on the odometer, but all of that worn-out stuff seems excessive, unless it has racked-up a LOT of miles, and/or if it was abused by the former owner, and/or if it had collision damage before you bought it. In addition to everything else, I suggest that it be checked for collision damage when it is up on the lift.

2 Likes

If its a creaking sound instead of a scraping sound then it could be failing ball joints

1 Like

@VDCdriver Sorry, there are 115K miles on the vehicle. Clean carfax, so no collision damage. Though I’ve no doubt that the original owner wasn’t kind to this vehicle, I agree that this much wear is odd

@weekend-warrior There’s actually no creaking while driving. The only sound I hear is from the suspension responding to the shaking.

What that really means is that Collision damage has not been reported . Not every facility reports to Car fax. It could have been fixed by a small shop that just does not want to pay the Carfax fee.

5 Likes

Carfax’s advertising has led all too many people to believe that it contains reports of all accidents.
Sadly, that is not at all true, so I will repeat that you need to have it checked for collision damage the next time that it is on a lift.

3 Likes

I’m sorry, but a mechanic should be able to diagnose this with the described symptoms. Especially if there’s noise coming from the suspension. On a second note, if there are multiple problems with the suspension, it doesn’t get fixed if you only fix one. You said you’ve been to 2 mechanics, maybe you could find a 3rd.

1 Like

@VOLVO-V70 @VDCdriver I had no clue man. That sucks. I’ll have them check for that too I guess.

@tcmichnorth I think you’re right. I’m going to try some of the things others have mentioned regarding spare tire swaps and such, but I’m definitely taking it to another shop. I’ll tell them about what I’m experiencing and what I’ve tried, and I’ll see if they can help me out.

We had several grand Prix’s with broken sway bars. They are stamped tubular design and break at end points. We had a few that had good sway bars. I never noticed a difference in ride.

And I have known two people (one with an Explorer, one with a Pathfinder) whose vehicles rocked or swayed back & forth, and in both cases broken anti-sway bar links were the source of the problem. Hence, my suggestions to the OP.

Are they checking the rear suspension too? The rocking back and forth (sort of like you are driving a boat) is often a problem in the rear suspension parts, often a worn bushing. Suggest to ask your shop to focus on the rocking problem first, as the other symptoms may be related. It sounds like you are also getting shop-to-shop consistent advice to replace the tire rod ends, so doing that was a good move.

I can’t tag all of you, so I’ll just reply:

Well, on Saturday I decided to switch out the spare tire for the tires/wheels I suspected one at a time. I rolled down all windows and drove around slowly while listening for the problem tire. It sounded like Left-rear tire, so I jacked up the car and switched them out. Before I even got the tire off the ground, I could see how warped it was. Definitely a broken belt. I finished putting on the spare and drove over to discount tire, where they replaced it for free.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Yall saved me a lot of money!

5 Likes

Sad. A tire specialist shop would do all this work and not notice a deformed tire.

Did you tell them the symptoms, or just what work you wanted done?