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Hot Rod Forum : Hotrodders Bulletin Board > Tech Help> Suspension - Brakes - Steering> not an old car but an '06, steering wheel wobble
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Topic Review (Newest First)
05-27-2019 02:08 PM
lmsport Bad tire or dead shock/strut--most common cause of steering chatter
05-27-2019 07:24 AM
joe_padavano There is no difference between FWD and RWD as far as checking for wear in the suspension and steering. The car has 180K miles on it. Have you ever replaced any suspension or steering parts? Have you checked for worn tie rods or ball joints? Rather than throwing money at the car, why not try a little diagnosis first?
05-27-2019 07:19 AM
some additional info

as of last week i changed the rack/pinion from a junk car with 80k miles... first or second 80 don't know. the outer tie rods came with it and were in very nice shape. when my son got the car and drove for likely 500 miles with no issues at all. then all of a sudden he came home and mentioned the wobble issue. yrs ago i had a out of round tire from a bad belt but it just hopped up/down and not in steering wheel. thinking of a bad seal in rack is why i did the rack. and removing a 14 yr old rack was not fun.. 8 hrs to remove and 4 to put used one on.. much easier when bolts are lubed and not rusted on. so for now i am looking to change out both CV's but first do a balance or replace of tires..
05-26-2019 03:04 PM
idrivejunk Cerial brought up something real relevant there... alignment.

Front drivers "just go" remarkably well with lots of wear and tear present. But tire problems make a mess of everything and generate lots of complaints.

Staying away from expensive trips to the alignment rack is very do-able. As mentioned, counting or marking threads when replacing outer tie rod ends is the trick, it works. But, to that I would add that not all tie rod ends will have the same length of threaded area. I like to use a reference that sidesteps that such as a mark out at the joint, measured from the boot at the rack for example.

I have measured from tire tread rib to tire tread rib after, as a check to be sure theres just slight toe-in. And when the sides match on tie rod thread lengths, steering wheel points straight, and tire edges are not wearing out, I'm good to go as fast as the car will go. Where high mile FWD cars are almost all always messed up is camber. Front or rear, due to the design. There are ways of dealing with that too but it won't affect going straight or wobbling, mainly tire wear and how it takes curves.

Worth mentioning is that I had good stock wheels and stuck with a medium priced directional rain tire that I liked for most of my time, and cornering wear and alignment shop trips were thought to be a given. But I went to cheap tires on even cheaper Bullitt Mustang wheels off craigslist and driveway eyeball alignment on minor things, and crazy as it sounds... the problems went away. Tire brands, sizes, and styles just come and go too fast these days and that makes it a crapshoot. Just round is what I need.

I'd also like to support cerial's statements about bushings. Control arms and strut mounts. Also more of a dice roll as opposed the RWD cars, as to which ones wear first. And anything with slop that lets a part move around can make the steering wheel shake. Plus, with these used cars we just can't know about the bad days in the car's history like curb hits and such which can seem like no damage was done but it shows up later as a split bushing.
05-26-2019 02:17 PM
cerial Well do both cv shafts and tie rod ends. Inspect your other bushings while your there.

I degrease, clean, then spray the tierods with a silver paint before removing them. This allows you to install the new ones close enough to where I dont need to do a alignment after. My junk rides straight with no hands at 75.

Of course torque things proper and lay down a catch pan.

I do brake pads, rotors, hubs, and inspect the shafts every 30-60k. In most cases moving the strut makes this easier. At the very least you get a better look at your bushings which can save tire wear.

Now while you have the passenger shaft out the strut slid aside/removed, the tie rod dropped, the hub removed, and the control arms flapping around.
When is the last time your timing chain/waterpump was done?
One of those things where all that has to come out again to do it right. But if it was done 60k ago then it can wait another 30k and you can just do the tierods and cv shaft assemblies.
05-26-2019 12:17 PM
idrivejunk It can be tough to put together a set of tires that are actually round these days. I have been using FWD Grand Prixs for about a decade and did collision repairs on FWDs for a decade before that. First off I would say you probably found the trouble when you chalked the tire. Second, outer tie rod end would be my first suspect for something wobbling the steering wheel 2 or 3 inches. Thats a huge amount. A bad tire on a loose tie rod end would sure do it and new racks don't usually include outers. Outer tie rod ends seem to wear out way before anything else.

CV vibration will be felt during acceleration mostly so if it changes when you let off the gas, theres a hint to go along with the shot boot you have.

Hubs have never caused a loose feel, for me. If one goes bad enough, there will be noise not necessarily from the hub but from rotor edge crust since the wheel rides where it didn't before. Some never make noise but get loose. Some will never get loose but will make noise. Some will be real bad but never show it until you really crowd them in a long curve at high speed. Lots of cheap new bearings are just bad right out of the box. But I have never had one shake the steering wheel.

If a trans wears out, in my experience you'll have a gravelly sounding roar like a bad wheel bearing.

To me, it sounds like you need some tires and one or both outer tie rod ends. If at 180K it has original, not greasable outer tie rod ends... those are a safe bet for an improvement and its easy to visually check for play. If a tire has began to wobble, that puts a lot of strain on the rod ends.

FWIW, I've been having good luck getting cheapo Douglas Performance tires at wally world. Half the price of Generals from actual tire stores, that gave me twice as much trouble. Start with tires. I have original racks on two 99s right now. One car has 180K and took a hard suspension hit but rack is fine. Other car has 271K and other than being a little harder to control at full throttle than it should be, no issues.

Thats all I've got based on info given.
05-26-2019 11:14 AM
just took it out again

for slow drive as i stuck me out the window to see if something stuck out...nothing. i know the passenger cv boots are shot. this morning i jacked up on stand on the lower A arms. he could feel movement but i didn't see anything. did notice drivers tire out of round so i used caulk and it marked about 1/4 of tire. not good.
05-26-2019 10:02 AM
CaptMike FWD can a PITA to trouble shoot. My one and only experience was on my HHR Panel. It's usually a dirty dusty job. There's many components that can cause loose steering. Just doing "Swap Parts Repairs" will get very costly quickly.

If your doing these repairs without Drive on Lift, then I have a suggestion.

Find a Auto Repair Shop nearby and get a FREE REPAIR QUOTE. Get several at least four, five better. Ask your friends which shops are honest and which to stay away from.

What I tell some of my friends non DIY types, male or female, get several free quotes and bring them to me for review. Most of the time, half will be outrageous. This is often because some shops will only repair all of the worn and / or damaged parts.

But this car may have worn parts a damaged parts or both. Then again it could be only a worn Tie Rod End. But checking front suspension components esp front wheel drive for wear and damage is probably not for the inexperienced. So, again get some free quotes, and then post your results.

Most suspension repairs aren't that difficult. It's pretty common in my rural area for the DIY person to take a suspension part to a local parts store and have them replace a specific part, like a Ball Joint, or loan specialized tools for FREE.

Good Luck...
05-26-2019 09:39 AM
cerial Couple checks.
While parked:
Turn the tires all the way to the left then all the way to the right in a fluid motion while stopped. Is there any binding or jerking?
Turn the wheel all the way to the passenger side then turn the steering wheel back a 1/4" towards the drivers side reach in and grab the drivers tie rod checking for loose rubber or a loose rack mounting bolts.
Turn the wheel/tires the oppisite to check the passenger parts.

On some 4 cylinders you can reach behind the motor and grab onto the rack to check the bolts.

Find a nice backroad(with the radio off) and around 15 mph turn the wheel one way then the other 4 or 5 times having the car move 10 feet back and forth (staying on the road of course) shifting its weight on the hubs. You will hear a diffrence in sound or even a slight thump thump more on the worse hub.

These are the cheap and easy afternoon checks that anyone can do before they get out there tools.

From here you get into things like yes a possible cv or that pos nissan cvt transmission which does require maintenance. They are actually very frail and picky transmissions. You should do regular fluid changes around 60k and let the thing warm up before taking off.

I am not a fan of most cvt transmissions but the quality of nissan transmissions during those years was embarrassing. I would start off by changing the fluid and filter. But generally by the time they start to whine and then rattle, and then shake at speeds it is time to start looking to rebuild.

Now we could still be talking about a bad tire/rim, or bad bearing/hub, or bad steering, or bad cv, even a possible bad rotor or caliper, all low cost normal maintenance items to fix.
But while checking these I would inspect the transmission for play and if never done change the fluid/filter using the proper correct(remember they are picky)transmission fluid/filter for that specific transmission.
05-26-2019 07:26 AM
not an old car but an '06, steering wheel wobble

'06 nissan altima 180k miles. steering wheel wobble around 2-3 inches. this happens at lower speeds like under 40. the faster it goes away. put on jack stands and ran, looked like pass tire was out a tad so changed both front to rear and drove no change. while on stand nothing was happening with steering wheel. changed rack steering yesterday drove and no change, still wobble. now i did find the passenger CV moved in/out about like 1/4", drivers side no movement.
older car are easier... my first time play'n with FWD stuff.
i'm now leaning to change both CV shafts..
any insight ??
this is my sons car i'm trying to save him a few bucks, but i'm leaning on taking to garage for options.

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