CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Steering wheel shimmy

2000 Mercury Sable Wagon, 108,000 miles. Car is in very good condition, all maintenance kept up. Recently, at speeds above 50 miles an hour, the wheels develope a litte shake that I can feel in my feet and through the steering wheel. Could it be that the wheels need to be balanced? Any other thoughts?

A couple of thoughts

  1. One or more the tires may be out of balance. Check the wheels in case a weight fell off.

  2. Check the lug nuts for tightness. Have any of the wheels been removed recently? I had changed a front tire on my wife’s 98 Windstar. A month a so later there was a slight shimmy/vibration at 65 mph. I pulled off the highway and found the lug nuts were coming loose on that wheel.

  3. How old/worn are the tires? One of my cars started to shimmy around 45 mph. The tires were worn, but had about 10k left on the tread. I replaced them anyway and the shimmy stopped.

  4. Have the front end checked for wear and tear, i.e. ball joints, tie rods, etc.

Ed B.

Thanks Ed,
I will check the lug nuts. I rotated the tires about a month ago. I used a torque wrench and tightened the lugs to specifications. The tires have about 15,000 miles on them and have a lot of tread left.

These cars are noted or weak tie rods. Both of mine have been replaced on my 2001 and I’ve only got 57,000 miles on it.