Hello, I am considering buying a 1998 Honda Civic LX, auto trans, with just a little over 91,000 miles. My concern is vibration in the steering wheel that is present when breaking and when driving at low speeds (but seems to dissipate somewhat on the highway). A mechanic I just saw said he believed the cause was due to all 4 tires definitely needing replacement. Also said he did not suspect a serious alignment issue. Does this sound right? Could it be something more costly than tire replacement?
It could be the tires. If they need replacement take that into consideration when you make an offer on the car.
A common cause of steering wheel shake under braking is warped front brake rotors. This is easily corrected by installing new rotors, and nothing to prevent you from buying the car.
It does sound like warped rotors. Did the mechanic examine the car, or were you describing it to him? Are you buying from a dealer or private party? It’s never a bad idea to spend $100-150 on having a mechanic you trust check the car out. Your probably spending at least a few thousand dollars, and it’s worth the peace of mind. I’d be leery of buying a vehicle that had an obvious problem, even if it seemed minor, until I knew exactly what it was & how much it would cost to fix it. An exception would be if you know the owner and that it’s been well-maintained, and could trust that it really is a minor issue.