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Steering wheel jiggles

When driving straight at slow speed (10-25 miles/hour) on smooth roads, the steering wheel jiggles left and right visibly (probably 1/16-1/8 inch each way). It goes away when turning and seems less at higher speed.

This is a 2004 Honda Odyssey on original Michelin Symmetry tires with about 62k miles. Tires have 2/32-4/32 tread wear left, no manufacturer’s worn markers yet or any visible damages or deformation.

The vehicle has had regular maintenance at dealers, most recently 60k service done in December 2010.

Trying to determine if this requires immediate attention and half a day at the dealer or a tire shop… Thanks for your help in advance.

I suggest bringing your car to a good tyre shop or alignment shop.

Tyres can fail and not display much if any visible clues. However what you describe could be suspension problems as well.

Perhaps it’s as simple as a balance weight that fell off.

However, I hope you’re not driving in snow where you live. These tires are too low on tread to do that safely. If you are, then replacing the tires should be your first step here.

The tires likely are out of balance on the front. It can get rebalanced however at 2/32"-4/32" they are compromised for both winter and wet traction.

Replace them sooner and latter and the problem will go away.

I had the same problem with a 98 Ford Windstar. One of the front tires had a defect in the sidewall. My trusted mechanic described it a slipped, shifted or separated belt (I forget the exact term). There was a bulge in the defective tire’s sidewall.

Replacing the tire fixed the problem. In your case, I would replace all four.

Ed B.

A low speed shimmy like what you describe is most often caused by a structural problem in a tire, less often by a bent rim. An inspection by a technician at a good tire shop will tell you which is the case. You are due for new tires anyway. If yours are original, they are fast approaching eight years old, and you got much better life out of them than most factory installed tires. I normally replace tires when they are down to 4/32 to 5/32 tread depth because at that point, they seem to be getting a bit skittish in the rain and snow. You will probably be amazed at the difference a new set of tires will make once you replace these, with how old and worn they are. By the way, wear bars aren’t meant to be a guide to suggest when you need to start thinking about getting new tires, they are meant to tell you when it’s too late and the tires are now dangerous to drive on.

You need tires. 2/32 is the minimum legal tread depth for passenger tires.

Your description sounds like a separated tire–the plies are starting to come apart and the tire is no longer perfectly round.

60,000 miles on a set of Symmetries is pretty good. Replace them and I bet your problems will be solved.

I am getting four new tires. Thank you all very much!