A few months ago one of our customers brought a car in with tires which were worn through to the metal belts in them. For the record, this is a bad thing. The man explained that he had gotten into his wife’s car one day after not driving it for a while and noticed a considerable wobbling in the back end. Upon further inspection, he noticed the tires and immediately made an appointment. When he asked his wife if she had noticed the shaking, she said yes, but it didn’t bother her that much. This brings us to this month’s topic: What does it mean when the feel of the car changes on you? As the driver of your own car, you are the best judge of what is and what isn’t normal for your car. When your car changes, this is a good indication that something is not right and needs to be inspected. Below are some more common items and some potential causes.
- The car pulls to one side or the other – We’ve all probably experienced it at one time or another. While driving down the road, you notice that you’re consistently struggling to keep the car straight, whereas a week or two ago this wasn’t a problem. This could be caused by a few factors. First, does the car pull only while braking, or accelerating? If you notice this only while braking, a frozen caliper, worn brake pad, or another issue with your brakes is most likely
the culprit. When your car pulls while accelerating or simply maintaining speed, the more likely causes are uneven wear on tires, alignment problems, or in some cases, suspension issues.
- Vibration in the steering wheel – Ask the same questions as before; when do you notice the vibration? If the vibration occurs while braking, you may have warped rotors. This will feel like a pulse in the brake pedal, and is often felt in the steering wheel as well. If your vehicle vibrates while driving, there are quite a few parts which could be causing this. A slightly bent axle will cause vibration, as will worn CV joints (stands for “constant velocity”.) Tie rod ends (these are the little boots which help your car steer) can often wear out and allow excessive movement in the front end of your car. The other two common causes of vibration are alignment issues(which is why 5 Points offers a lifetime alignment deal) and tire problems.
- Wobbling or shaking while driving – As was the case with our customer, the first place to check is the tires.
Unbalanced tires, uneven tread wear, excessive “runout”(the tendency for a car tire to go rotate unevenly at higher speeds) and uneven tire pressure can all cause a significant wobbling sensation while driving. Other causes of wobbling while you drive are a bit more involved. Things like bad motor mounts, insufficient oxygen intake, and worn suspension parts can all cause wobbling. If you’ve inspected your tires and they look good, get the car in to 5 Points as soon as you can.
While we’ve given you several reasons that the feel of your car can change, make sure you get it inspected. Vibrations and shaking mean that something is rubbing which shouldn’t, or something else has come loose. These problems can lead to larger problems if not corrected in a timely manner. As the owner of the car, you are the first person to notice changes in your performance. Paying attention to the changes in your vehicle’s performance will help you avoid larger problems and potential disaster in the long run.
As always, we’re here to help you keep your vehicle safe and on the road. Give 5 Points a call at (215)855-3592 with any questions about things you notice about your vehicle and we’ll make sure your problem is diagnosed correctly and fixed the first time