Wobbly on grooved pavement

I drive a '14 Civic, 19k miles, and I just recently had the alignment adjusted on the car. I’m driving with snow tires in upstate new york.
There’s a stretch of the nys thruway that’s grooved-- verticle grooves-- and my car wobbles from side to side so much on this stretch, i have to drive with 2 hands and hope a semi doesn’t wobble back into me!

Could it be the snow tires? Something else? Can’t be the alignment, I just had that fixed!

Tires with large grooves in the tread tend to follow the grooves in the road. It can be the tires.

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Your snow tire may be more prone to follow the grooves. It’s exacerbated by the alignment which is basically zero camber and zero toe-in (for maximum mpg).

Check the tire pressure, low pressure can make this worse. Snow tires can make this worse.

It COULD be the alignment. They may have done it wrong, or, more likely, adjusted it into a range that makes the car more sensitive to this. Check the pressures and if that’s OK, take it back to the alignment shop and tell them what the car is doing. They may be able to adjust it to the roads you drive and still be in spec.

I didn’t think it snowed in New York :wink:


I only drive that section of the thruway once a week, and I have a feeling i’ll be putting my normal tires back on in a week or so.

thanks everyone :slight_smile:

If you are talking about depressions in the pavement leaving the toll booth that go straight down the road for miles and are the width of tractor trailer tires, they are the result of heavily loaded trucks. They were especially bad for years leaving the Buffalo area heading east.
Some vehicles are much more bothered by them than others.

In the late 80s or early 90s the was a Greyhound bus that overturned there because he was fighting those grooves and was over correcting with the wrong steering frequency.

The only thing that seems to help is to change the rhythm that you correct your steering with.

You might even let go of the wheel with your hands in position to grab it to see if the wobble is self limiting if not interfered with.

I drive a minivan and a sedan on the same stretch of the Thruway with grooves, both with snow tires. I don’t have any “squirm” or tracking issues. You might want to have the dealer double check your alignment.

Some words on tramlining - sometimes called groove wander.

It is not uncommon for tires to try to follow the grooves in the road. It happens when edges of the ribs line up with the edges in the pavement. Unfortunately, the spacing of the pavement grooves is NOT standardized, and since the spacing of the ribs in ribs is highly dependent on tire size, sometimes there will be a tire that is susceptible to this.

The more ribs, the more likely this will happen. Straight rib tires are more prone to this. Highly inflated tires are more prone to this.

But tires following the ruts in the road - especially those made by heavily loaded trucks - is something different. Wide tires have bigger problems than skinny tires. Alignment affect this. Also, the track of the vehicle (the distance between the tires on the same axle) affects how much this happens. So don’t be surprised that some vehicles have this problem and some vehicles don’t.

I’ve personally had tires in years past that did this.

My van used to have 275/60R15’s on it (original 235/75R15), and its track was such that it was a little bit narrower than the ruts caused by heavy trucks - and sometimes, it would hunt back and forth trying to follow the ruts. Very disturbing.

The solution was to drive off center.

My Honda S2000 is narrower than the road ruts and hunts like a bloodhound on Red Bull on some country roads. A little more air pressure in the tires seem to help but not eliminate it.

Highly informative! It’s the stretch of thruway between Syr and Roc-- I haven’t noticed it leading up to tollbooths, but I have noticed it going over the bridges in Syr on 690. I tried the off-center driving ‘trick’ too… but i couldn’t find that happy off-center path.

guess I’ll do both, check alignment and switch back to normal tires.

I don’t think the alignment should’ve been touched at 19K. Alot of times the grooves in the pavement are not straight as an arrow, so the tires are just following the surface of the road. The wrong alignment,(toe adjustment), will make the car handle oddly on even wet road,let alone ice and snow. You probably already changed your tires back to summer, but let us know what happened. Your printout of the alignment shows you the before and after settings of the wheels.

I haven't noticed it leading up to tollbooths, but I have noticed it going over the bridges in Syr on 690

I-690 in Syracuse is ALWAYS under construction…except for the two weeks of the State Fair.

I would concentrate on the caster and maybe the toe in could be adjusted a bit-but if changing tires will do it,then that is the practical route.'Its amazing how some things will become “resonate” so to speak,sensitive to wavelength ,amplitude etc:sometimes its a dance with a correction doing the job with a little tuning,judging from the abuse my wifes work car has withstood(08 Civic) these suspensions are fairly robust

Ya in Michigan there’s a long stretch on I-96 that’s grooved, and my low mileage Honda Accord’s rear end will shake side to side like he’s saying when I go anywhere over 65??

It snows in New York but that’s not what it’s called there.

Good luck getting a response from someone who posted his problem 7 years ago, and never returned.

I don’t know if your vehicle will shake if you go over 65 .

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