Steering wheel vibration at about 68 MPH

honda
steering
pilot

#1

2004 Pilot, 142K.
Generally running fine, regular maintenance from a non-dealer but Honda-approved reputed shop.
The steering wheel vibrates while driving at around 68mph or so. its fine at 65mph, starts a slight vibration as speed increases, and goes away at 75. Well, maybe I cannot feel it at that speed. It never vibrates a lot, just a bit, and only between ~67-72mph.
Had the tires balanced twice because the mechanic said thats the problem, and after the second rebalance he gave my money back since that did not solve the problem.
He said that there is a possibility its the tires getting old, but the tread is fine as checked with a penny.
What else should I be looking for?


#2

That is a pretty narrow range, does it happen if you keep it in a lower gear without slipping into overdrive?


#3

Good question!
Dont know, never tried that. Will try it this afternoon and report back.


#4

Really don’t think the penny test is sufficient for the problem you are discussing. It would seem that if a good balance does not do the trick, you might want to review the option of new tires. How many miles do you presently have on this set. A little puzzled by the narrow range where the vibration exists.


#5

Have you tried swapping the front tires with the rears to see if steering wheel stops vibrating?

If it does stop, it could be an indication of a tire with a belt separation.

If the vibration continues after swapping the tires, then the steering/suspension components should be inspected.

Tester


#6

Have about 60K on these tires. Supposed to go to 80K.


#7

After running the car (not in overdrive) as Barkydog has suggested, i will take it in to swap the fronts and rears and see if that helps.
If that does not improve the situation, next step is to get two new tires - the other two were replaced last year, these still had decent tread depth so I did not change them. These also have a good bit of tread life (as checked with a penny), but that comment about belt separation concerns me. Used be be a tire guy in a previous life, and the thought of the tire coming apart on the road is not an appealing one.


#8

Supposed to and will are two different things.

Tester


#9

Thanks! I think if the 3rd gear test does not work out, I’ll put in new tires after having them force-balanced, just to be sure.
Have gotten a decent amount of life from the existing tires, so even if they dont last the rated 80K, better not to take the risk of tires failing on the road.


#10

If you have not yet tried Road Force Balancing, I think it is worth a try.
Unfortunately, a lot of shops do not yet have this type of equipment, but when I had the exact same problem with Continental tires, only Road Force Balancing with Hunter GSP9700 equipment provided relief.

http://www.hunter.com/gsp9700
:slight_smile:


#11

I faced similar situation and solutions. Decided to get 4 new tires, which helped a lot, but there was still some imprecision in the front end. Took it to a good local brake/suspension shop. They found inner tie rod ends were worn. Replacing those, and doing some filing to allow more range of wheel alignment, finally took care of it. I now think it was good insurance with new tires to have someone who knows what they’re doing - not necessarily the tire shop - do a diagnosis before many miles are on the new tires.


#12

I drove the car off overdrive for a couple miles at ~70mph. Same vibration, so its not the engine or mounts.
Will talk to the shop tomorrow to check about road-force balancing, as well as order new tires.


#13

That Hunter article is good. Substantial and meaningful content. Thanks for posting the link.


#14

Hunter’s website includes a searchable database that will enable you to find a shop that has the Hunter GSP 9700 equipment. It seems that more and more businesses are adding this equipment, so you might not even need to travel very far to find someone who has it. Even the auto shop at the local County Vocational School now has the Hunter GSP 9700!


#15

When you rotate the tires, if the problem doesn’t change from a steering wheel shake to a shake in the seat, then tires is NOT the problem and replacing them will not fix it.

Assuming for the moment that rotating the tires doesn’t fix the problem, I would start looking at something else in the front end. Is this an AWD? If so, then may be front CV joints.


#16

Did you just check one spot on each tire, or did you check several areas around the tire to see if you have uneven wear?

Next time you’re at an auto parts store or a big box store, pick up a tire tread depth gauge. They’re pretty inexpensive, usually about the same price as a cheap tire gauge and can be found in the same area of the store as the tire gauges. ( …or you could use a quarter instead of a penny.*)

Generally, you your tire tread depth should never go below 4/32" before you replace them. The distance between Lincoln’s head and the edge of the penny is 2/32", a pretty low and outdated standard* for an important item concerning safety.

*http://prideautocare.com/washington-quarter-test-versus-the-lincoln-penny-test-on-tires/


#17

Put in new tires, and the vibration has reduced considerably, but not completely. Will now take it to a specialized shop - shocks/struts/suspension - to investigate further.
CV boots look fine, but still, will go there after examining other possibilities.


#18

Still happens, and at the same speed. Engine RPM is ~3000+.
So, not the engine, I guess.
Put in new tires, vibration almost but not completely gone.
Will investigate the suspension next.


#19

I think those road force balancers are not that common here

I’d say most of the independent repair shops, even ones that sell tires and do front end work, don’t have one


#20

Did a search for road force balance machines. There seems to be only one company that makes them, Hunter. Fortunately, they list the shops that have them installed, and there turned out to be several in my area.
Called one, took my Pilot in, and it turned out that one of the replaced tires was way out of round and causing the vibration.
Got it balanced, and now, all is well.

The tire shop owner told me that the tires that QA the best go to the car manufacturers, and the not so good ones (that still clear factory QA) go to the replacement market. If you are unlucky to get a tire that right on the edge, you can have problems. Normal balancing can address issues up to a point, but a tire that has a non-uniformly-stiff sidewall, for example, will balance fine, but not drive right. Road-force balancing can detect such anomalies.
Anyway, if one experiences driving vibrations, one of the areas to analyse is definitely to see how the tires perform under load, which is what road force balancing attempts to do.