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Tech501
Tech501, Auto Service Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 747
Experience:  38 years exp, ASE Mastertech with L1 Advanced Engine performance
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2001 Oldsmobile Aurora: 45,000 miles..Michelin..tires..inspected

Customer Question

Just purchased a 2001 Oldsmobile Aurora at 45,000 miles with new Michelin Harmony tires and fresh wheel balance. Had the frame measured and my mechanic inspected the car. Everything checked out as being in nearly new conditon. The car looks new. The steering wheel has a slight wobble that gets noticeable above 70 mph. Wooble increases with more speed. Am getting alignment next week. Car Fax report shows no problems and shows the regular maintenance records. What could be causing the steering wheel wobble? Thank you for your help.
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Tech501 replied 11 years ago.
 Wheel alignment has absolutely no bearing on whell shimmey. Your still looking at tire or wheel problem. Somebody is missing something in the balance process. It may have a tire or wheel with a little too much runout.
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Tech501's Post: What do you mean by wheel or tire runout?
Expert:  Tech501 replied 11 years ago.
 If the tire and wheel combination does not rotate perfectly straight or has high spots, all the balancing in the world won't get rid of that vibration. The tire is only as good as the wheel it is mounted on so they both have to be inspected thoroughly while in the process of balancing. If the tire and wheel package doesn't hop or wobble, it will balance out good.
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Tech501's Post: The balance has been done three times at different shops and the problem remains. Will try again. If that solves the problem, will pay you. Keep in mind there is no vibration as you normally find with a wheel out of balance. It is a subtle wobble in the steering wheel. By wobble, I don't mean a shake. The steering wheel just turns very slightly (right-left, left-right) in a steady rhythmic pattern. I believe the car has rack and pinion steering. Does this car have a steering damper and if so can that cause the problem?
Expert:  Tech501 replied 11 years ago.
 If that happened at lower speeds, you could look at things like brake rotors or separated tires, but that stuff wouldn't be appearing at that speed. If it's in the steering wheel that you feel thiis, simply rotate the tires to determine if this is the problem. I really can't see anything else acting that way.
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Dear Boynton Beach, I appreciate your thoughts on this. The car has so called "quick response" rack and pinion steering. It appears to be so sensitive that small things become magnified in the steering system. I ran across something similar years ago. I don't remember it very well but I believe it was a malfunctioning valve in the power steering unit.

When driving straight there is something that brings it out more clearly. When I turn the steering wheel very slightly to the left, there is a very rapid bump, bump, bump that you can feel in the steering wheel. I don't believe it does it when turning the steering wheel slightly to the right but I will have to check that again to be sure.

I am going to try balancing again at a friend's tire shop. I am also going to try alignment since the car does drift to the right more than normal. The old front tires showed some excessive wear on the inside edges.

I recall the car dealer mentioned that the front brake rotors either had to be turned or replaced when they got the car from auction. I will ask him about that again this Tuesday. The problem does not appear when braking so I have been thinking it is not in the front rotors.

I hope this does not turn out to be a problem with no solution or one that takes months of detective work.
Expert:  Tech501 replied 11 years ago.

 

Quote:
When driving straight there is something that brings it out more clearly. When I turn the steering wheel very slightly to the left, there is a very rapid bump, bump, bump that you can feel in the steering wheel. I don't believe it does it when turning the steering wheel slightly to the right but I will have to check that again to be sure.


You know, you get a lot better answers when you give all the symptoms the first time. That symptom could be brake rotors or even a power steering problem as you suggested.


How smoothly does it brake at that speed?

 
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
It seems to brake smoothly at all speeds.
Expert:  Tech501 replied 11 years ago.

 

Quote:
It seems to brake smoothly at all speeds.


That would somewhat eliminate the possibility of a rotor problem.


Customer: replied 11 years ago.
The shimmy seems to be less on smooth blacktop roads and worse on interstate highways that are somewhat rough. I can also feel it in the floor board near my right foot but no where else other than the steering wheel. I am leaning toward a power steering problem. Can the power steering unit be properly diagnosed?

I have to go for lunch and will be back later.

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