Wheel Alignment and Vibration


#1

I have a 08 Hyundai Sonata, which I bought from a dealer in VA a couple of months ago with 33,000 miles on it. Soon after I purchased the vehicle, I realized that the steering wheel would vibrate at speeds 55-58mph, at 65-66mph, and at 75mph. The vibrations are not that intense but they still bother me. I took the vehicle back to the dealership to get this problem resolved. Both times I took it to them, they balanced my wheels and assured me that I will not experience any vibration. Third time the dealership told me that there is a small bent in one of my front wheels and therefore there is this vibration and it would cost me $300 to change it. I didn’t believe them and didn’t have that much money and therefore I didn’t get it repaired and tried to ignore the vibrations.

Now, upon driving the vehicle for about another 4000 miles, I noticed that my vehicle was pulling to the left. I got my wheel alignment done with another authorized Hyundai dealership. After the alignment check I was surprised to note that the vehicle started to pull to the right instead. The dealer told me that my tires might have gone bad and I must take it to discount tire to get it checked. I am confused now and worried. I do not want to end up spending lot of dollars and still not get the current issues resolved. (I have new Kumho all-terrain tires, which came with the vehicle.)



Please advice me what I should do or what could be wrong with my vehicle/wheel/tires.


#2

switch the front tires for the back, does the front vibration go away? Does the pull go away? Having an alignment after the tires have worn to the out-of-alignment car could cause what you experience, but the rears are probably fine.


#3

Based on the symptoms–vibration and pulling to one side–I think it is likely that you have a tire with a bad belt. When a belt slips inside the tire casing, it produces these exact symptoms. I would strongly suggest that you go to a Kumho tire dealer, as a slipped tire belt is a safety issue.

Incidentally, I assume that you meant to tell us that the tires are so-called “all-season” tires. All terrain tires would normally be installed only on trucks and SUVs, not on a sedan like a Sonata. Please tell us what type of tires these are.


#4

More likely is that the tire has developed irregular wear because of the alignment. But fixing the alignment didn’t fix the wear on the tire and that’s why you have the pull and the vibration.

2 tests: #1) Swap the front tires left for right.

If the pull changes direction, it’s the tires.

If the pull does not change direction, it’s the alignment.

If the pull disappears, it’s both.

Test #2) Swap the front tires with the rears.

If the vibration changed, then the problem is in the tires and they need to be replaced.

If the vibration didn’t change, then the problem is not in the tires - it is in the vehicle.


#5

Thanks for your reply. I didn’t expect to receive a reply this early. thanks.
I did had the dealer switch the front tires for the back. Unfortunately the vibration still exists, but the vehicle appears to be drifting less to the right. I also visually inspected my wheels and tire tread. One of my wheel (rear right, which was front right earlier) appears to have a bent in the lip area. I wonder if this could be the reason for vibration, and/or wheel alignment?


#6

Thanks for your reply.

I did mean to tell you that the tires are so-called “all-season” tires and not all-terrain.
I carefully inspected my wheels and tires yesterday and noticed a very small bent in my rear right wheel. I wonder if this could be the reason for vibration and vehicle pull.


#7

Driving a car with a bent wheel is not a good idea.
In addition to problems with vibration, a bent wheel may not allow the tire to hold air properly.

Also–consider this:
Since that tire and wheel used to be on the right front of the car, if the wheel impacted a curb or other object hard enough to bend it, then it is also VERY possible that you have damage to the car’s front-end components. That would be a significant safety issue.


#8

I must say that every piece of advice and knowledge that has ben made available to you on this Forum is very common everyday knowledge. Nothing special or exotic was presented to you here on CarTalk. What I am getting at is I can’t understand why the professionals you have been dealing with have not been able to solve the simple issues you have presented. I must come to the conclusion that there is more you are leaving out than the type of tire you are using.


#9

I agree - and I think we now know what information is being left out: The selling dealer was doing the diagnosis. That means the selling dealer might be held responsible for the damaged wheel, and the resulting alignment and tire wear issues - and he wants to do everything possible to avoid that.


#10

I did contact the selling dealer (Duncan Hyundai, Christiansburg, Virginia; sales person: Ed Jones) regarding this issue. I was told that their 136 point inspection did not include checking the vehicle wheels and the wheel could have been bent on account of user’s mistakes. After some intense discussions, the dealer agreed to cover labor charges for replacing the wheel but did not take responsibility of paying for the wheel’s cost. I am a “legal alien” resident in US and do not know the laws and rights very well but I do feel that business was not conducted well with me as per the “Good Faith” law.


#11

I tried to cover everything that I know about.
Yesterday evening I took my vehicle to discount tire for general tire inspection and balancing. Their diagnosis confirmed that two wheels were bent and the tires were out-of-balance. They said they could order used wheels for me at the cost of $50 a piece. I was also told that the tires are in great condition and appear to be new. Though, they were not 100% confident, they assured me that bent wheels could be the root cause for vehicle vibration and pull. I really hope the same.


#12

I would ask the selling dealer for the 136 point list of what is inspected. It seems to me that the wheels are a rather important part of a vehicle.


#13

I would agree with Triedaq about the inspection. One would think a comprehensive inspection would involve looking the tires and wheels over; or it should. I’ve done countless inspections and the tires/wheel rims are one of the first things I’ve always checked.

What I would be concerned with is the possibility of a bent suspension component.
If 2 wheels are really bent then there’s a strong possibility a control arm, trailing arm, or whatnot could also be bent.

A good alignment tech should be aware of and check for things like this but you never really know.


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