Steering Wheel Shakes

Hi. I have 2009 Honda Accord with approximately 66,000 miles (I drive 70 miles r/t to work every day). I had service done on my car the other day to get the front brake rotors replaced and four new tires. Upon receiving my car and driving to Boston the car began to shake at highway speeds (50+). I took it back to the mechanic and they re-balanced the tires. I drove to work the next day and the car still shakes (albeit now at 60+). Today the mechanic rotated the tires in case there was a bent rim in the front causing this. However, on my drive today the car still shakes (though it’s not as violent or noticeable as the trip to Boston). Any ideas what may be causing this? Sidenote: the car also wants to drift left.

Easy things first: If you let go of the wheel, and the car wants to go one way or another, that’s alignment.

For shaking, it can be a multitude of things. Normally, we first point at the wheels and say “Balance!”, but you’ve done this. It’s interesting, however, that it got slightly better. That would tell me there’s a new guy on the balancing machine, who’s not been properly trained. They’re pretty simple now to operate, though.

I’ve seen situations (it happened to me with my old Bronco), where a tire was tearing itself apart inside. The belts were moving, resulting in a tire that could not be balanced, and would fail quickly. Since they were new, they tried balancing it, and after two tries (balancing it twice, a few days apart each), they replaced it.

Thanks. I am concerned because like you said it got slightly better. Meanwhile, it was doing this at all prior to the service. Is it uncommon for a new tire to be tearing itself apart inside? And how would they be able to diagnose this?

Meant to say it WASN’T doing this at all prior to getting it serviced (new tires and rotor)

The only way to diagnose it is to cut it apart…which no one will do. They can check the balance on all of them, if one is out, balance it again, and if it goes out yet again, only replace it. They should find one, and mark it so they know they’ve tried already. Apart from the time involved (and a couple weights), it costs them virtually nothing to replace it under the manufacturer’s warranty.

Other things that can cause this are worn bearings, out of balance drive shaft(s), bent rims, etc, but no amount of tire balancing will improve those.


You could also have a defective tire. If there is an internal tread separation, it may not be visible and may not be detectable when they try to balance it. (I interpret the improvement not to a better balance, but to the bad tire being moved from the front to the back.) You can try replacing one wheel at a time with your spare to see if it goes away.

These are new tires…let the shop do it. that way, they will feel better about having to replace it, too, since they will also have diagnosed it - which they may still insist on doing after YOU diagnose it.

While tire balance is the most likely cause, there are others. If something got behind the rotors when they were mounted, that can cause a vibration. One of the rotors could be defective and severely out of balance. The person who mounted your tires could have bent one or more of your rims. Or you could have a defective tire.

I should note here that most of the above will cause a vibration that is not speed sensitive. You would fell the vibrations even at low speed. If the vibration comes on at one speed and goes away if you go faster, that is almost always a balance issue.

There is a definitive way to check the wheels and tires. If the shop has a machine capable of doing Road Force Balancing, that process will detect internal defects and/or other tire abnormalities that a regular balance machine cannot.

By the way, if these new tires are Continentals, I can tell you that I personally have had problems with these and other posters have written about the same poor experience. I was completely unable to get them to roll smooth, and ultimately had to chenge them over to BF Goodrich.

The way to diagnose this is to move the tires front to back. If the problem is the tires, the vibration will move from the steering wheel to the seat or floorboards.