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Why does my car ride so rough?

I purchased a 2014 Toyota Corolla Le Eco Plus last May. The car rode FINE for a few months, but then I began to notice that the ride feels completely rough/harsh. It’s almost like a jittery feeling. After researching I’ve found reviews that said “the Corolla’s ride is harsh and unpleasant,” but to me it feels like it’s gradually getting worse. That has me thinking something is wrong with the car itself, not just that the Corolla in general rides rough. I’ve taken it in to the dealership multiple times, but they say nothing is wrong. I honestly don’t know what to do. What could it be? Struts? Shocks? I mean, it’s BRAND NEW. Help!

You’re just becoming more aware of it with time. The fact is that while Corolla is an extremely reliable and long lasting car, its ride as its design has evolved has become extremely harsh. I bought a brand new 2005 ten years ago and the ride seemed okay at first, but it was so harsh and the seats so hard and unforgiving that it very quickly caused my back problems to flare up. I traded the car after only two months. I simply couldn’t stand the ride anymore. I lost $2500 on that deal, but I just mentally wrote it off as a healthcare expenditure and moved on. I never regretted trading it in for a moment. Check your tire pressure to be sure it isn’t too high, but in the end I think you simply come to realize that Corollas simply ride harshly.

Why they design it this way is a mystery to me. Oddly, the car I traded it for, a 2005 Scion tC, has tires with a 45 aspect ratio on 17" wheels but a far, far better than the Corolla. And it’s proven over the years to be just as reliable as a Corolla. And more fun even.

Well, I had a 2010 Corolla S before this. I noticed that it didn’t have the GREATEST ride, but it wasn’t near as bad as this one! Trust me I’ve considered trading this one in, but in the long run, I am not financially able to do so, unfortunately. I’m still in too deep on this car as I haven’t even had it a year. Could I maybe replace the current struts/springs with different ones to make it less harsh? Really I’m just looking for ANYTHING I could do…this is driving me to insanity.

You can’t. However, check to see if the tires are Low Rolling Resistance (LRR) tires. If they are, it might take the edge off the ride to change them to regular tires. LRR tires often use a harder compound to reduce rolling resistance.

Read the tire sidewalls and look for the LRR. It might even tell you in the sales brochure. Usually they brag about it. If you’re unsure, post a clear photo of one of the the tire sidewalls.

Also visit www.tirerack.com and www.1010tires.com. They have good consumer feedback sections where you might be able to find a better riding tire.

Have you checked the tire tread? Pressure? Low tread can roughen the ride.

Oh, I will definitely check to see if they are LRR tires. I have checked the tread and it’s fine. The pressure is fine as well. I even had my regular mechanic check. He did say he saw one of them “cupping” so that makes me think the tires are playing a role in this whole ordeal. Thanks for the links, I’ll check them out! The tires that I have are the ones that came stock. They’re Michelin Primacy mxv4 I believe.

“Cupping” is a result of a need for an alignment. Consumer Reports published a summary of the adjustments that they found commonly needed on brand new cars, and alignment was one of the top items. New cars often leave the factory not properly alignment.

Check with the dealer and see if they’ll check the alignment for free. They may not, because it’s nearly a year old and they truly have no control over potholes etc., but it’s worth a shot. If they won’t, have a reliable shop align it.

It’s already been aligned once since I bought it. I was having issues with my car pulling to the left rather extremely so I took it in and they did align it for me (although I don’t think it was free). I have no problem with the car pulling anymore, but my regular mechanic (whom I trust more than the techs at the dealership, to be perfectly honest) did see “cupping” in one tire only. He may have actually called it “chopping” (?) I’m really not sure. Either way he saw something in the one tire only. Anyway, I’ve also heard that this particular tire isn’t one of the best tires out there. I’ve never had Michelin brand tires on any of my cars. I’ve always had Goodyear Eagle tires. So, maybe I’m just not used to this particular tire. I do think my car has LRR tires though, now that you mention it. I’ll double-check tomorrow morning. I love my car. Corollas are one of my top-picks and favorite model cars, but the harshness of the ride on this one is starting to make me second-guess. I keep trying to think of any possible thing it could be (i.e. the tires).

The cupping may have begun before you had the pulling addressed. If so, your mechanic might have seen the evidence of a problem that’s already been addressed. Once anomalous wear begins, it rarely disappears. You could also have an out of balance tire that was never addressed.

My first Toyota was a Corolla, bought new in 1976. I loved that car. My 2005 was a disappointment, but I simply should have done more test driving. I took it on a few test drives and it seemed okay, but I guess I should have done more test drives. My bad.

So you’re saying that I should have my regular mechanic look to see if it needs to be balanced and/or aligned? I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the dealership didn’t do something right. I wish I had done more test driving too. Literally, I regret it every day. But, what’s done is done. Oops.

Have the new guy do an alignment, but if you’re getting new tires anyway there’s no point in bothering with the balance… unless you just want to know. Since checking a tire’s balance is dirt-cheap, it might be worth it just to know.

Hey, I only wish this were the biggest mistake I’ve ever made… {:open_mouth:

Post back with how you make out. We do care.

Well, I was just going to go with these tires until I do need new ones bc honestly finances aren’t the greatest right now lol. But I will have him do a balance bc I would like to know for sure. I’m quite a paranoid person when it comes to my car! I’ll definitely post back, although it may be a few days since I’ll have to fit it into my schedule. Thanks for all the help!! :slight_smile: (I will look to see if my tires are LRR tires and get back to you tomorrow as well)

I looked to see if my tires are LRR tires, but I don’t see that on them so I’m assuming that’s a “no.” Honestly, after talking to you about it and about your experience with Corollas too, I think it’s just the car. It’s a brand new body style and I believe they just need to work out the kinks over time. They won’t change the body style again for about 5 more years, or so they tell me. I’m still going to take it in to my regular mechanic (not the dealer) to get his opinion. I’ll see what he says and go from there. Who knows, maybe it’s a wheel bearing or maybe even the kind of tires on it…idk. I do notice, however, that when I coast at slow speeds (like at a stoplight or in slow-moving traffic) and when I reach speeds of about 45-60 mph it tends to seem the worst, but when I get to higher speeds such as on the interstate, it mellows out a bit. Any opinion on that?

I actually test drove a 2015 Nissan Altima yesterday because this has seriously got me considering trading. It drove nice bc, well, it’s a bigger car with more power. However, I did notice that it felt similar (in a slight way) to the way mine drives in that it was a bit jittery as well. Still, not as bad as mine is though. But thank you for your opinion on this! I’ll keep this discussion updated when I find out.

Cupping and chopping can be caused by a faulty strut and alignment. The car is a 2014 so does this mean it was purchased brand new (as in 3 or 4 miles) or was it a dealer demonstrator, program car, etc with a few hundred or more miles on it?

Sometimes the latter can take a beating in a short time as the person or persons driving it doesn’t have a vested interest in it and doesn’t care what happens to it. In some cases the cars even get whacked and repaired.
I will also point out that a dealer demonstrator is often sold as new but they’re used cars actually.

Here’s something to think about . . .

For decades, the Corolla was known as a reliable, but very boring car. And not sporty at all. The Civic was equally reliable, but generally had a more responsive suspension/steering setup.

Toyota finally caught on, and the Corolla doesn’t look as boring anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised if they also made some changes to the suspension/steering, for a more fun and responsive ride. The tradeoff, however, is that it’s less comfortable

For example, my brother’s Mazda 3 is fun to drive, and has a very responsive suspension/steering setup, but it’s extremely uncomfortable. I wouldn’t buy it for myself

You said your tires are Michelin Primacy MXV4, which are highly rated for driving comfort. Click the “survey” tab in the link below to see survey results on this tire from other drivers.

In which case the tires are probably not at fault, something in the suspension has caused one or more tires to cup, making the ride harsher than usual.

Hmm,
An alignment needed in a 1 year old car because of a pull.
Only one tire is cupping.
Only now the driver complains of a rough ride.

Sounds like one of the struts is bent. Likely because you hit a big pothole. The bend is small but shows up as bad alignment. Even a lightly bent strut rod won’t slide smoothly like it should. The bent rod won’t go past the upper internal strut bearing as easily so that friction is felt as ride harshness. I think you have a damaged strut. Look for the strut where cupped tire was found. You will likely have to remove it and hand stroke it to determine for sure that is the one.

I tend to agree with Mustangman about the odds of a pothole or even a curbstrike being behind this problem seeing as how it involves one wheel.

Those kind of things do happen and are often brushed off mentally with the assumption that a light love tap harmed nothing. These things also fade from memory very quickly.

It would be interesting to know what the alignment specs were.

The car had 9 miles on it when I purchased it so it wasn’t a demonstrator model. The tire that is cupping is the rear right tire. Could a bent strut still be the issue? I seriously feel like the issue is coming from the front end of the car. I can literally hear a rumbling/bumping sound. It’s quite audible, annoying, and uncomfortable! My steering wheel seems to bounce in an up and down motion more than it should as well. I’ve put in a call to my dealership to have them leave a note for the service dept that I need them to call me tomorrow because I WILL be taking it up there. I’ll mention that I would like them to take a look at the struts. What do you guys think?

I’ve got a couple of things to comment on:

  1. The OP (SS2011) needs to rotate the tires. If the vibration changes, then the tires are the source of the vibration - and based on the conversation so far, that’s my bet.

  2. It is very likely the misalignment caused the tire to wear irregularly. That’s the source of the vibration. Fixing the alignment STOPS what was driving the wear, but it doesn’t stop the wear from continuing and getting worse - albeit, much more slowly.

  3. LRR is a term that is NOT used extensively in the tire industry. It has no official designation, nor it is likely to show up on the sidewall. When it is used, it is a RELATIVE term, not an absolute one. It means “Less rolling resistance than tires with similar wear and traction characteristics.” Tire Rack likes this term because it helps them sell tires, but the tire manufacturers do not like it because it implies something that isn’t true - as this thread has proven.

  4. Better rolling resistance is NOT caused by a harder tread compound. In fact, tread compounds with absolute low rolling resistance are quite soft. That’s because it is internal friction that is causing the rolling resistance, not friction with the road surface. In other words, it is a 3 way relationship between wear, traction, and rolling resistance, so the idea that soft tread compounds have good grip is only part of the equation here.