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Nbalcom 11-12-2012 07:08 PM

Suspension/steering problem
I need to fix a problem quickly because this is my only vehicle at the moment and drive 120 miles a day to go to work - I REALLY appreciate thoughts.

This is an intermittant problem. When there is load, the steering wheel will move back and forth. This movement correlates to wheel speed - at 10 MPH it wiggles back and forth (maybe 30 degrees), at 70 MPH it is a violent shake. When there is no load (coasting or braking), the problem vanishes.

Also, when this is happening, the car pulls hard to the left. When its not, its straight as an arrow. I do think I can hear something like a bad bearing during the worst of it but I can't be sure, the steering wheel shaking is kind of loud.

This car has new tires and 4 wheel alignment 10,000 miles ago. The power steering leaks, but I don't see that being related??? Both lower ball joints have bad boots and so could be suspect I guess. The passengers side CV joint boot is non-functional but still there, could easily be contaminated. Tie rods show mild wear but nothing that explains what is going on.

I would LOVE to replace everything I just mentioned, but for now I have to solve the big problem, and fix the others down the road.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and ideas!

Kennyfvholla 11-12-2012 07:37 PM

First jack up the car, one wheel at a time, and shift the wheel with your hands at the 12 and 6 o'clock positions. If it shifts or moves any, that tells you it's a bad wheel bearing.

Right after that, with your hands at the 9 and 3 o'clock positions, shift the wheel back and forth. This will tell you if there is a bad tie rod up front.

Also, with the car on the ground and the motor off, shake the steering wheel back and forth. Listen for any clunking. This will let you know if there is any play in the steering rack itself. The car pulling to one side makes me think something is misaligned.

Then, you're going to need to make sure that every wheel/tire is balanced.

Do you hear and clicking from the CV axles at any point, making turns or otherwise? Reach up underneath the car and grab each one. See how much it shifts back and forth.

Nbalcom 11-13-2012 06:00 AM

Thank you, Kennyfvholla.

The bearings (12 and 6) feel solid. The tie rods (3 and 9) have a little play. I've seen much much worse though.

Every wheel and tire SHOULD be balanced, and alignement SHOULD be good. If it comes down to it I can have another shop check their work. But like I said, its intermittant. At least half the time it feels properly aligned.

I hadn't thought of your tests for the rack and for the cv joint. Will try those today.

The CV joint makes the most sense to me, considering that the movement is based on wheel rotations under power. Any further ways to test this before replacing it?

Kennyfvholla 11-13-2012 11:53 AM

There should be absolutely no play in either of the bearings or tie rods. A loose tie rod or a loose bearing may not always cause wheel shaking of this extent. The steering will just feel very loose and wander a bit. That's what mine did until I replaced the hub. I have a rack issue and a loose RH tie rod and the steering is tight with a little wandering and a tiny bit of steering wheel wobble.

As far as the CV joint, you can loosen the boots and check the internals for lack or grease or damage of any sort. That's about it

Another thing to check. See if a caliper or pad up front is having issues and sticking (especially the drivers side. Remove the pads, buy some brake paste, and put a good amount on every spot that comes into contact with the caliper.

If its getting hung up at all, and at varying levels, the could cause a shake as violent as the one your talking about. It could also be why it's pulling to one side under load. But, if this is the case I don't see why you're not having a problem while braking. Still, it doesn't hurt to check and make sure everything is all well and good.

And yes, have a shop check the alignment. Make sure that you SEE that every degree for every component is in the green.

An axle and/or brake issue is the only thing I can think of that would cause this issue to be intermittent though...

Stang70Fastback 11-13-2012 12:13 PM

Yeah I was wondering if it wasn't a sticking caliper or something else fubared with the brakes that would be causing them to grab with every rotation which might explain the violent shaking...

Kennyfvholla 11-13-2012 01:13 PM

Yeah, the only time I've ever seen/heads such a violent shaking is in my buddy's 94 Legacy SS when you hit the brakes.

Nbalcom 11-15-2012 06:27 PM

Just to wrap this thread up, the inner CV joint on the passenger side was the culprit. It will bind sometimes instead of flexing. After I took it apart I don't like the sound/feel of the wheel bearing either. Figure while I'm at it I may as well do the tie rod ends too...236,000 miles take their toll I guess!

Stang70Fastback 11-15-2012 07:57 PM

Thanks for actually coming back and giving us the answer!

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