I have an issue with my truck (172k) and the steering wheel vibrating for about 2 years now. I started with the simple fixes, I rotated and balances the tires. Then the brakes needed to be replaced so I replaced the front wheel bearings and rotors (rotors were turned) and all four brake pads. I also removed the helper springs in the rear that a previous owner installed. The vibration was reduced but still there at about 45-60 and more pronounced on right curves. About a year later I replaced the rims and tires and installed all new shocks, still not joy. About a month ago i again replaced all brake pads and the front wheel bearings, noted the the outer bearing driver side had some abnormal wear so I replaced them with better quality bearings. I also replaced the center steering link and the inner and out steering links and the damper. After installation I had the truck aligned and wheels balanced/rotated, still not joy. I had the tires check and no abnormal wear was reported. I am completely out of ideas, any help would be appreciated.
When you installed the new front bearings did you preload the bearings?
Preloading the bearings means as you tighten the spindle nut you rotate the rotor so that the bearings seat squarely onto their races.
But when you put the cotter-pin in to lock the spindle nut, there should not be any torque on the nut…The bearings are not left loaded by torque on the spindle nut…
I thought perhaps a bent spindle but any decent alignment shop would have caught that…
Have you thought about adjusting the steering box? You don’t want much slop there…
Moving farther afield, a cracked frame around the steering box or suspension mounting points…
I used to get a front end vibration in my thankfully long gone 1971 Toyota Corolla, the most troublesome car that I have owned. I could balance the wheels and make sure that the worm and sector steering gear was tight and I also installed new lower A frames with new ball joints to no avail. I don’t recall how I ran into the solution but it was simple: Remove one front wheel, turn it 90 degrees and reinstall the wheel. It may have been voodoo, witchcraft or magic but it worked every time when I balanced the wheels, bought new tires or rotated the tires if the vibration reappeared.
I guess what I’d do is jack the front end up, and rig up some kind of run-out gadge and rotate the tires by hand and see if everything is rotating and moving in a circular arc as it should. I’d check the axial free play at the same time. I’d repeat the experiment with the tires off, just measuring to see if there is any run-out on the discs themselves. You might could narrow it down to one side or the other at least.
That’s a lot of work though. Here’s something simple you could try. Move the two front tires to the rear, and visa versa. See if that helps or changes anything. You might just have a tire out of round.
@WhaWho, it sounds like your old Corolla had a hub/rotor with excessive runout.
@Tcpmp, is this truck 4x4?
Perhaps your driveshaft(s) have worn u-joints . . .
To answer Testers comment yes the bears were pre-loaded.
To GeorgeSanJose; I have gone through the stock rims, another aluminum rims with new tires and now steal with new tires. I have rotated and balanced numerous times.
This truck is not 4x4.
@Tcpmp, you didn’t say anything about the u-joints.
Find a shop with an old Hunter spin balancer and use it’s drive motor to spin up the front wheels so you can observe them at speed…You might find the problem is not tire/wheel related…