Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Steering wheel wobble

My son’s '87 Camry steering wheel “wobbles” back and forth only at very low speeds (5-20 mph). Not noticeable at high speed. Midas told him to get an alignment. I don’t see tire wear associated with alignment problem. Could ball joints or tie rods cause this?

I’d Check All 4 Wheels / Tires For Lateral And Radial Run-Out. Old Tires (Even Ones With Lots Of Tread Left) Can Cause this Condition As Can A Wheel Rim That Is Slightly Bent.

My money is on a bad tire or two.


I agree with CSA that this is most likely to be a bad tire–maybe a couple of bad tires.

Since “Midass” suggested a wheel alignment, I have to assume that they don’t sell tires.
(If they did sell tires, they probably would have suggested that you buy at least half a dozen.)

In general, it is best to avoid chain operations like Midas, Meineke, Monro, Sears, Pep Boys, AAMCO, etc. Try to find an independent shop in your area for more accurate/honest diagnoses, lower prices, and better-quality workmanship.

Jack it up and support it safely and watch the suspension and steering system while someone moves the steering wheel from side to side. Often you must grasp the individual joints and feel for internal looseness. Many of the parts require realignment after replacement so it is somewhat logical to start at the place that can do it all. I hear a great deal of sniping at Midas but locally they have found it profitable to fall somewhat in line with independent shops with regard to marketing and pricing and are quite competitive so you be the judge there.

This is perfectly symptomatic of a bad tire or bent wheel. The person at Midas who told him to get an alignment was not very car smart. Alignment issues will NEVER cause a low speed steering wheel wobble. A bad tire or bent rim will.

In general, it is best to avoid chain operations like any quick oil change place.

My wife’s 98 Windstar had the same problem. My mechanic inspected the van and said the right front tire had a slipped/shifted belt. The tire looked fine to my untrained eyes, it was only a few years old and had plenty of tread. Replacing the tire fixed the wobbling.

Rather than using a chain, find a local independent mechanic for service work. I’ve been using the same mechanic for 17 years. Ask friends or neighbors for recommendations.

Ed B.