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VW Jetta wheel wobble help!

My car has almost 80k on it. It is a 2005 VW Jetta 1.8T GLI. Been a great reliable car but I’ve been having a lot of trouble with the front end suspension. I get a horrible wobble in the front end. Translates into the steering wheel and feels like the wheels are wobbling very quickly only under braking. It is much heavier under heavy braking, but still exists even under light braking. I’ve replace my tie rods after finding a little play in them, checked my CV joints and axles and they looked good. Balljoints seem ok. Struts and strut mounts were replaced and the car has brand new tires that were balanced and aligned and rotated. When I replaced the tie rod, it went away temporarily but is back worse than ever. I’m getting really frustrated with this and the car feels dangerous to drive. Any help would be appreciated.



My first thought is the front brake rotors must be warped.

I had the exact same problem once on a 1997 GMC truck. Replacing the rotors cured the problem immediately.

Good luck.

If it is associated with braking then odds are good that the brake rotors are the problem.

Sounds a lot liked warped rotors. I hope somebody didn’t tell you to replace the struts just for this problem, when all it needs is a brake job.

I replaced the front pads and rotors. Took care of most of the problem but now there is a hollow loose sounding noise from the front suspension when going over bumps. Any ideas? Thanks for the help everyone!

I’ve been curious about the statement that the “Balljoints seem ok” That’s an odd way to put it. If the struts, tie rod ends, and front brakes have been replaced, but after the brakes only “most” of the problem is gone - i.e. there is still some vibration in the steering wheel AND some noise on bumps - then I’d be worried about ball joints. If there’s no vibration left but only the noise than I’d also be looking at sway bar bushings.

Well thanks for calling me out. I don’t know much about balljoints but I couldn’t find any play when moving the wheel around when the car was jacked up. So it could be the balljoints too. I’ll try the sway bar bushings tomorrow since they are pretty simple (and cheap).

There is a very very slight vibration, may just be normal road feedback. The big problem now is the noise over bumps/rough roads.

The sway bar bushings are easy to check. Simply be certain the vehicle is securely elevated and cannot possibly fall on you, get under it, and shake the bar with your hand. If that’s the source of the noise, you’ll hear it.

Regarding eth ball joints, when the vehicle is elevated and the wheels suspended, the weight of the wheel and all the other unspung weight is all loading the ball joints. They could be worn out and just moving the wheel around not disclose it. You really need to try to lift that unsprung weigh to see if there’s play. It might be worth a few bucks just to have a shop put it up on a rack and check the ball joints that way. It should be cheap enough, since you’re not asking them to change the joints, just check them.

I will just add that ball joints can be bad without being loose at all. Sometimes the only way of really knowing is by separating the joint from the steering knuckle or control arm (varies) and moving the ball stud around by hand.

The ball stud should move around in a smooth, firm fashion. If it moves extremely freely or seems to have a catch in it here or there then it’s worn.

This also applies to CV joints. Those can be bad without making noise and may require removal so as to physically determine if they have odd wear problems or not.

So this is really weird…just broke down and took it to VW and found out that a subframe bolt was missing…I have no idea how that could have happened though.


“subframe bolt was missing”

The bolt was missing entirely?

Or the bolt was “missing” . . . because part of it got sheared off?

In my experience, what initially appears to be a missing bolt often turns out to be a broken bolt

I was told that it was missing completely.


Has the subframe ever been off for any reason?

I would make absolutely sure the female threads for the bolt are still there . . . there may be a reason the bolt fell out

I have never taken it off and I can’t think of any maintenance I’ve had done that would require it.

I’m just as stumped as anyone…those bolts are pretty big.

I’m just glad the source of the problem was found. Thanks for letting us know the outcome.

I imagine most of us will now strain our brains for a while wondering how this could have possibly happened. I know I will. Of course, in my case straining my brain doesn’t take a whole lot of straining anyway. This only shows that anything is possible.

Sincere best.

I’ll chalk it up in the sometimes shi…tuff just happens category. There’s a reason that certain fasteners are supposed to get loctite, or have various retaining mechanisms. Some robot maybe fell asleep on the line.

Thanks for the help everyone. Guess the dealer can be useful sometimes. Not sure if I’m supposed to do this, but I have an unrelated question. I have REVO stage 2 on the car and it seems to run really rich. Is that just part of the tune?

On the REVO question, I’d start a whole different thread - or better yet, find a VW / Jetta forum where people are into “tuning” them.