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SolaraGuy.com • View topic - *UPDATED* Help - Steering wheel shakes between 60 - 80 mph
Stock talk about the Generation 1 and 1.5 Toyota Solara which were produced from 1999 to 2003.

*UPDATED* Help - Steering wheel shakes between 60 - 80 mph

Postby xavier » Fri Mar 20, 2009 7:05 am

LEE337 wrote:Mine use to shake real bad. Then I replaced my wheel bearings, struts, and strut mounts. Now it only shakes a little. Mainly when I get up in the 90mph range. Once I get some better rims/tires and new rotors it should go away completly. 205/40/R17 <-----too small! :evil:


Yeah, once I have the time, Im going to inspect my calipers to see if thats the problem but I'll probably end up replacing them anyways. Im hoping I can just turn the rotors down as long as they arent warped. Then I'll look at coilovers....gosh...so many things on the to-do/to-fix list!

I gotta find those dang faux wood trim pieces too. :(
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Postby amp3188 » Fri Mar 20, 2009 7:15 am

I have been in shake hell and just got back on SolaraGuy to ask about this. Its been going on for a year and a half now and I've had the following done to the car.

New brakes all round, multiple inspections, countless rotations/alignments/force balances.

My shake seems to be coming from the front driver's side wheel area. I have a 99 SLE V6 with 182,000 and she is stock. The tires are crap and the rims are road rashed pretty bad, but none of the rims are bent and regardless of the roations/alignments/force balances the shake comes from the same front drivers side area.

I've been told that it could be a CV joint, calipers, rotors, rim, tires, axel, strut bearing, wheel bearing, suspension, suspenion arm, etc. Nobody really knows though.

I've had it into multiple shops for inspections and I took it to a friend of mine who was in town today to look at and he was clueless. That scarred me because he is a mechanical genius.

I've been able to rule out any break issues and tire/rim issues, but do you guys have any other ideas? The most recent force balance by a Toytoa Dealership helped to tighten it back up some, but it still shakes.
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Postby xavier » Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:17 am

Well, the problem with shaking is that it could be so many different things. Thats why I've had my shaking for a while, cant pinpoint the problem. I need my wife to drive at 70 with me strapped to the hood to really troubleshoot! lol.

I am going to start by having the rotors turned and sand the top layer of the brake pads a bit to get a smooth finish. If that doesnt solve it, I'll inspect the rotors and may replace them. If that doesnt work, I'll replace the wheel bearings. If it still shakes, I will live with it until I get sick of it again. :D
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Postby samspooch » Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:02 am

Road force balance has always worked for me. Are you running after market rims? They may need the hub centric rings so they stay centerd on the hub.
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Postby Gibson99 » Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:11 am

something i'm surprised nobody mentioned is aftermarket wheels. if your wheels are not hub-centric then they will shake no matter how good your balance job is done. some lugnuts help mitigate the lack of hub-centering, but not always.

let's break down all the possible causes for noise and vibration in the front of a camry:

it's hard to check for a bent rim yourself, but you can do it on the rear easier than the front. block the front wheels, jack up the rear and do not set the parking brake. spin the wheel (or have someone spin it - kids are good for this) as fast as you can by hand and look for bends (they show up as wobble in the rim) as it spins. it's almost NEVER bent on the outside edge - it's the inside that bends the most, so look for this wobble under the car. you can try it on the front too but that's a lot more dangerous since in order to spin it fast enough to see a wobble, you pretty much have to run the engine in gear with the wheels off the ground.

wheel weights falling off or shifting (usually due to trim rings or hubcaps, or sometimes bumping a curb while parking) is rare but it does happen. but when you get the balance job done 43 times and it still does it, that pretty much rules that out.

worn ball joints will not make the steering wheel vibrate. they will show up as slack in steering and/or noise and scary "wobbly-ness" when hitting bumps.

bad strut bearings make a grinding/scraping noise while steering (mostly at parking lot speeds), and maybe a rattle in the front end, but cannot show up as a steering wheel vibration.

siezed calipers or slider pin(s) will wear pads unevenly and/or prematurely and make hotspots on rotors - you'll see blue-ing or actual chunks of brake pad material on the rotors. it'll also often pull/drift towards teh side that's siezed. this means warped rotors, which shows up during braking above 30mph in most cases. if the rotors are warped bad enough, they will cause steering wheel vibration even when you're not on the brakes, but in those cases it will get WAY worse when you do apply the brakes - we're talking rip the wheel out of your hand level of shaking. when it's this bad you can't just turn the rotors - you have to replace them, the pads, and rebuild/replace the failed caliper and its sliders.

worn lower control arm bushings will give you noise over bumps, slack in steering, and clunking noises when braking. they cannot cause wheel vibrations except on certain road surfaces, and then it will be intermittent, not constant.

worn/sticking/failing CV joints could in theory cause wheel vibration, but it would do it at all speeds, not just 50+.

some CV shafts have balance weights stuck on them (it's rare, but they're out there) just like RWD driveshafts have. if the weight was removed (vandalism) or came off (road debris/poor workmanship), this would definitely cause wheel vibration independant of braking. look for square clean spots on the axle, usually with a small divot in the center from where the weight was welded on.

a slipped radial belt in a tire could cause vibration too, but this will show up when you spin the tire on a machine as a lump or sideways "blip" in the tread, and you'd be able to feel it (most of the time) as if something was stuck to the tire while rolling at parking lot speeds. It will also usually pull/drift towards the side with the bum tire. tire rotation will help you isolate this - switch tires left-right and see if the pull/bump follows it.

ahh the things you learn while being a mechanic... :)
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Postby D-money » Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:50 am

if it is pulling to the left then your brake is dragging on a warped rotor
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Postby xavier » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:14 am

Gibson99 wrote:something i'm surprised nobody mentioned is aftermarket wheels. if your wheels are not hub-centric then they will shake no matter how good your balance job is done. some lugnuts help mitigate the lack of hub-centering, but not always.

I do have aftermarket rims and they all balanced out. I had a civic (awhile ago) with rims and the rims were warped (bad mold) and the rims never balanced out. I have checked the rims on the solara and they dont appear warped. However, I dont have hub centric rings so maybe Ill go to discount tire and see if they have some.

Gibson99 wrote:wheel weights falling off or shifting (usually due to trim rings or hubcaps, or sometimes bumping a curb while parking) is rare but it does happen. but when you get the balance job done 43 times and it still does it, that pretty much rules that out.
Wheel weights are intact

Gibson99 wrote:worn ball joints will not make the steering wheel vibrate. they will show up as slack in steering and/or noise and scary "wobbly-ness" when hitting bumps.

bad strut bearings make a grinding/scraping noise while steering (mostly at parking lot speeds), and maybe a rattle in the front end, but cannot show up as a steering wheel vibration.

worn lower control arm bushings will give you noise over bumps, slack in steering, and clunking noises when braking. they cannot cause wheel vibrations except on certain road surfaces, and then it will be intermittent, not constant.
I'll check but I dont have excessive play in the wheel and no weird noises.

Gibson99 wrote:siezed calipers or slider pin(s) will wear pads unevenly and/or prematurely and make hotspots on rotors - you'll see blue-ing or actual chunks of brake pad material on the rotors. it'll also often pull/drift towards teh side that's siezed. this means warped rotors, which shows up during braking above 30mph in most cases. if the rotors are warped bad enough, they will cause steering wheel vibration even when you're not on the brakes, but in those cases it will get WAY worse when you do apply the brakes - we're talking rip the wheel out of your hand level of shaking. when it's this bad you can't just turn the rotors - you have to replace them, the pads, and rebuild/replace the failed caliper and its sliders.
I think this is where my problem is. I think the drivers side may be slightly warped and maybe the caliper is sticking

Gibson99 wrote:a slipped radial belt in a tire could cause vibration too, but this will show up when you spin the tire on a machine as a lump or sideways "blip" in the tread, and you'd be able to feel it (most of the time) as if something was stuck to the tire while rolling at parking lot speeds. It will also usually pull/drift towards the side with the bum tire. tire rotation will help you isolate this - switch tires left-right and see if the pull/bump follows it.
Tires have no visible defects


D-money wrote:if it is pulling to the left then your brake is dragging on a warped rotor


That is my best guess right now. Ill get some hub-centric rings and see if that clears it up. Then its the rotors and calipers.

Thanks for all the input guys!
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Postby mattyboy243311 » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:47 am

i have the same problem but it happened to my 04 lara when I got new rims and put spacers in the front. It's not that bad though and it only does it between 55-65 mph. I think it has something to do with aligning your wheels.
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Postby cdeez » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:49 am

also check the torque strut motor mount. the bushings on them go bad on camrys and solaras. its the one from the strut to the motor on the passenger side. that contributes to steering wheel shake as well
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Postby xavier » Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:24 pm

cdeez wrote:also check the torque strut motor mount. the bushings on them go bad on camrys and solaras. its the one from the strut to the motor on the passenger side. that contributes to steering wheel shake as well

Ill check that as well. Thanks for the heads up!
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Postby Solorange » Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:07 pm

If you don't have the hub centric rings I would put those in first.

Im not sure if Im right when I say this but if you had a warped rotor, along with feeling it in your steering, wouldn't you also feel light pulsing in the brake pedal when you press it?
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Postby ~SolaRaSpeed~ » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:24 pm

I would add that with some aftermarket wheels, off the car balancing is not enough. You have to take it somewhere that can do the balancing on the car, like a performance shop that works on euro imports. The good ones go up to 130 mph or so.

get those rings first, plastic ones at discount work fine
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Postby amp3188 » Sat Mar 21, 2009 9:05 am

worn/sticking/failing CV joints could in theory cause wheel vibration, but it would do it at all speeds, not just 50+.

some CV shafts have balance weights stuck on them (it's rare, but they're out there) just like RWD driveshafts have. if the weight was removed (vandalism) or came off (road debris/poor workmanship), this would definitely cause wheel vibration independant of braking. look for square clean spots on the axle, usually with a small divot in the center from where the weight was welded on.


I'm back to thinking that the CV joints could be the only possible reason for my constant vibration/shake at all speeds from 2mph-100mph. It happens when I break as well. However, multiple mechanics have told me that the CV joints are fine when they have inspected them.

I get a yawing motion through the car as well. It will start in the front drivers side and moves through the vehical. It feels like my car spent a night at the Roxbury when it happens.

I will also get a terrible sound in the drivers side front suspension if I hit a speed hump/bump a little to fast. Again though, nothing has been found in the suspension when the car has been inspected. Its almost like the whole suspension gets compressed, but I don't know if that is actually happening.
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Postby gnegroni » Sat Mar 21, 2009 11:40 am

One thing I didn't read about were the wheel bearings. Obviously, wheel bearings not tightened properly will cause such vibrations. Too tightly packed and they would eventually cause troubles. I had shimming problems on a car of mine and this was the primary culprit, although I fixed a lot of other suspension problems first to rule them out. :(

So far, I can only add to the suggested about checking those calipers (yes, they seize). If they can be resurfaced (cheap, but can only be done so many times) or have to be replaced, either sand down the brake pads or get new ones. DO NOT SIMPLY REUSE OLD PADS or the rotor work will be damaged.

Although suspension components will not generally be the source of the problem regarding steering wheel vibrations or "shimming", they will make it worse.

Hope you get the problem solved. With all the input from Solaraguy members, this is a very good thread to read.
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Postby amp3188 » Sun Mar 22, 2009 9:52 am

gnegroni wrote:Hope you get the problem solved. With all the input from Solaraguy members, this is a very good thread to read.


Thanks, and yes it is a very good thread to read since a lot people probably go through this at some point in their car's life, some just worse than others :x .

I will definatly be visiting this forum a little more so than I have in the past.
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