Unpleasant beats and vibrations of the steering wheel occupy an honorable leading place among the most common car malfunctions. Especially the steering does not last long if the car drives mainly on useless roads. That is, in the case of many domestic motorists, constantly. It is not difficult even for novice car owners to identify the cause of the steering wheel shaking in more than half of the cases. Everything you need to know for this, you will find in this article.
In what operating mode does the steering wheel beat or vibrate
This is the first question that should be asked if you want to find the cause of the beating of the steering wheel. Indeed, depending on the mode in which the shaking occurs, you can immediately exclude impossible options and focus on the more probable ones. For example, if it vibrates while standing in one place, then crooked or unbalanced wheels are definitely out of business. Etc.
When searching for the cause of vibration and beating of the steering wheel, it is advisable to divide all possible modes of vehicle operation into 7 groups:
- Parking lot with running engine.
- Driving in a straight line at speeds up to 50 km/h.
- Driving in a straight line at speeds above 90 km/h.
- Driving on bad roads.
As a rule, if the steering wheel beats only in one of the listed modes of operation of the car, understanding the reason is as easy as shelling pears. A little more difficult if they intersect. That is, the defect actively manifests itself in two or three modes at once. However, there are far fewer options to sort through than there are in total. And for a second, only in this article they are mentioned 20 pieces.
All possible causes of beating and vibration of the steering wheel
It is possible that for many it will be enough to go through a short list of all possible causes in order to solve the problem. Therefore, we first list them without any explanation:
- Loose or worn motor mounts.
- Troubling or unbalanced engine.
- Insufficient idle speed.
- Steering rack drive shaft wear.
- Unbalanced wheels.
- Loose wheel nuts or bolts.
- Steering rack wear.
- Deterioration of steering tips.
- Wheel bearing wear.
- Deformed wheels.
- Unadjusted wheel alignment.
- Bumps and hernias on rubber.
- Variation in tire pressure.
- Wear of hinges of equal angular speeds.
- Worn steering gear bearings.
- Loose steering rack cardan.
- Worn stabilizer bar bushings.
- Deformed parts of the brake mechanism.
- Uneven brake performance.
- Broken ball joints.
If this list is not enough to identify the reason why the steering wheel is beating or vibrating in your case, the following items are described in more detail. In addition, they are considered together with the corresponding modes of operation, which will immediately exclude most of our list.
Vibrations in the steering wheel
The search for the cause of the steering wheel vibrating while stationary is in four directions at once:
- Engine mounts.
- Troubling or unbalanced motor.
- Low idle.
- Steering rack drive shaft.
Let's dwell on each of them in a little more detail.
The power unit of a passenger car is attached to the frame or subframe on damping cushions. They are needed so that during operation the vibrations of the motor are not transmitted to other parts of the machine. In particular, this applies not only to the steering, but also to the body as a whole. However, if these very cushions are worn out, or their fastenings are loosened, spreading shaking is inevitable.
Confirming or eliminating this option is quite simple. To do this, you need to start the engine and look at its behavior under the hood. If the mounts are really loose, then the vibrations will be visible, as they say, to the naked eye. They are most likely transmitted to the steering mechanism, and you feel them with your hands. Moreover, as a rule, this defect extends not only to the steering wheel, but to the entire body. Accordingly, shaking can be observed in the form of panel bounce, plastic parts, and sometimes even side windows.
Despite the simplicity of this problem, its elimination is not always quick and inexpensive. If the dampers are still alive, but the fasteners have simply loosened, it is enough just to tighten them. However, this is extremely rare. More often, pillows tan or deform, ceasing to perform their functions. In such cases, only their replacement will save. The event is not easy. But, nevertheless, even without contacting the service station, it is doable.
Troubling or unbalanced motor
The engine starts to triple when one or more cylinders stop working stably, or fail altogether. With gasoline, this often happens due to the lack of a spark. In injection and diesel engines - due to clogged or worn nozzles. In short, when the fuel cannot either enter or ignite in one of the cylinders, the engine starts to triple.
The result is imbalance. In a properly working motor, the pistons during reciprocating movements compensate for each other's momentum. And when one of them starts to falter, vibrations begin. It is quite natural that they are transferred to the steering , and are felt tactile. In addition, a stalling engine also pulls poorly, consumes more fuel, can suddenly stall or, conversely, spontaneously gain momentum.
In the appendage, a few words should be said about the imbalance of the engine. The fact is that it can become a source of strong vibrations on the steering wheel not only if one or more cylinders fail. This can also contribute to the wear of the parts of the crank mechanism. In particular, broken seats for piston pins, liners on the crankshaft worn to the foil, and so on.
This reason is elementary, if you just need to find out why vibrations go to the steering wheel. Another thing is to find and fix the problem. However, due to insufficient idle speed, the engine is unstable and with vibrations that are noticeable throughout the body. Naturally, they are transmitted to the control mechanism, and as a result are felt by the driver.
It is very easy to confirm or, conversely, exclude this problem from our list. Especially if there is a tachometer on the instrument panel. Normal idle for passenger car engines - from 800 to 900 rpm. If the arrow on the tachometer periodically drops or constantly shows less than normal, vibrations are inevitable. Quite often, such a problem manifests itself periodically, or in conjunction with other factors. For example, when you turn on the headlights, the stove or the air conditioner.
Steering rack drive shaft
The drive shaft transmits the rotation of the steering wheel to the rack using a simple mechanism, which, like everything else in the car, is subject to wear. When gaps and backlashes appear between its parts, vibrations from the engine begin to be transmitted to the steering wheel. Unfortunately, it is quite a difficult task for novice car owners to independently determine or exclude this option. However, it is possible.
It is also worth noting that the uniform vibration of the steering wheel while standing still may occur due to incorrect operation of the hydraulic booster. A similar problem is faced by owners of cars with electric amplifiers. It is not difficult to calculate these options if you systematically exclude all the others described above. In addition, due to the incorrect operation of the power steering, vibrations, as a rule, are felt only during parking with the engine running, while in motion they disappear or become almost invisible.
Steering wheel vibrates when accelerating
So that the steering wheel vibrates only when the car accelerates, and in other modes the defect would disappear, this does not happen very often. However, there are as many as five reasons why this is possible. Including, these include:
- Unbalanced wheels.
- Loose or missing wheel bolts.
- Worn steering rack.
- Worn steering tips.
- Worn wheel bearings.
Let's dwell on each point in a little more detail.
This defect refers to those rare cases when vibrations on the steering wheel are felt only in any one mode. In this case, this applies to the acceleration of the car. That is, if the problem manifests itself exclusively (or more intensely) during acceleration, and in other modes it subsides or disappears, first of all, attention should be paid to wheel balancing.
For those who are not yet aware of what it is, let's briefly consider this important point. Wheels are considered unbalanced if their weight is unevenly distributed around their circumference. That is, the wheel is heavier on one side and lighter on the other. However, it doesn't matter how much. Even a few unfortunate grams play a role. They lead to an imbalance of the wheels, and centrifugal force comes into play, due to which vibrations are observed during acceleration of the car.
If there is a suspicion that this is your case, do not rush to go to the service station. Very often, the imbalance of the wheels occurs due to their pollution. Firstly, in good fresh rubber, small pebbles can be unevenly packed. Secondly, dirt, snow and ice stick to the discs, especially from the inside. All this can greatly upset the weight balance of the wheels and, as a result, become the main cause of steering vibration.
The rims are perfectly clean, and there are no pebbles in the treads? Perhaps the wheels have not been balanced for a long time. This often occurs when a car is purchased in the secondary market. In addition, wheel balancing services are not visited by owners of so-called all-season tires for a long time. She walks (with careful operation, of course) for several years. And the wheels need to be re-balanced at least twice a year. Tires wear out, often unevenly, and rims warp. As a result, the balance is disturbed much sooner than many people think.
Wheel bolts or nuts
This reason is often found in novice motorists or inattentive experienced ones. The picture looks like this. Broke a wheel. Repaired at the service or with their own hands. Then install and tighten the bolts or nuts while the car is on the jack. And when the latter is removed, no additional power tightening is performed. Did not know. Forgot. Someone or something got distracted. As a result, the wheel remains unsecured, as it should be.
Needless to say, this picture can end not only with vibrations on the steering wheel, but also with something much more. Despite the fact that the reason seems childish and naive, it is not so rare. There is plenty of evidence for this on the internet. Many have seen in life how the wheel leaves the car at full speed, additionally bringing trouble to third parties. Unfortunately, the wheels and specialists at the service station are not enough.
One good thing is that confirming or ruling out this possible cause of steering wheel vibration is as easy as shelling pears. All you need is a regular key, which simply must be in the trunk of any car. The main thing is to have time to pay attention to this. Do not be lazy to double-check the tightening torque of bolts or nuts after specialists. They are people too, which means they can forget and get distracted.
When the rack is worn, the steering wheel does not always vibrate only during the acceleration of the car. However, it is in this driving mode that this defect makes itself felt most often. It is very difficult to identify such a reason on your own, since on many cars even getting to the specified part is a whole problem. However, do not forget about the elimination method. That is, when you discard all other possible options, the suspicion of the steering rack will fall by itself.
Additionally, it would not be out of place to note that the repair or replacement of this steering part should not be postponed until better times or indefinitely. A broken steering rack can cause an accident or pull other components of the steering mechanism and chassis.
Steering tip wear is one of the most common causes of steering wheel vibration during vehicle acceleration. It should immediately be said that they manifest themselves not only during acceleration. Loose tips lead to wobble and wobble when cornering and on bad roads. Also, because of them, the play on the steering wheel increases, which is immediately felt by the hands of an experienced driver.
In a nutshell, consider how to check steering tips for wear. Actually, without the help of SRT, this can be done in two ways:
- Steering wheel rotation. An assistant is needed for this check. One rotates the steering wheel in the cabin, and the second, being a mod machine (in a viewing hole, on a flyover or lift), watches how the tips behave. The broken ones are immediately visible.
- For this method, an assistant is not needed. To check the steering tips, you need to try to move the tie rods with which they are connected to the rack. In addition to the fact that this method allows you to see loose tips, in the process of checking, the rods themselves may also show themselves from a bad side.
If wear has been identified, then there are two options. The first is to replace the parts with new ones. This operation is not very complicated, and can be easily performed even if you are a beginner car enthusiast. The second option is to find specialists who are engaged in the restoration of steering tips. It will cost less. In addition, given the quality of parts sold today, remanufactured parts are more likely to last longer than new parts.
Vibrations or, rather, wobbling of the steering wheel due to wear of the wheel bearings are also more often manifested during the acceleration of the car. The diagnosis is confirmed during maneuvering. When the life of the wheel bearings is exhausted, but does not completely go out, the car begins to behave as if the wheels were made of jelly. Additional symptoms may be a hum, whistle or rattle during movement.
How to check wheel bearings? To do this, you need to take turns hanging all the wheels on the jack, simultaneously shaking them with your hands. The latter is best done not from the outside, but from below, being in the inspection hole. So it will be possible to additionally check not only the bearings, but also the steering tips. As a rule, the first ones show themselves from a bad side if the wheel is shaken by holding it from below or from above. The tips begin to dangle if you shake the wheel, taking it by the sides.
There is, in fact, only one way out of this situation. Wheel bearings that have exhausted their resource cannot be restored, or somehow tightened or something else done. In this case, it's just a replacement. Unfortunately, this procedure is not simple. You need certain tools and experience. Nevertheless, it is possible to change the wheel bearings, as they say, with your own hands, without a service station.
Driving at speeds up to 50 km/h
Among the twenty possible causes of vibration and wobble of the steering wheel presented above, there are two that often appear only in this mode. Measured driving on a flat road at low or medium speed. These reasons include:
- Deformation of wheels.
- Unadjusted convergence.
Both deserve special attention.
Deformed wheel rims
To deal with steering wheel vibrations due to warped discs, we have all the conditions. Namely, our beautiful roads, with holes in the knee. Also, discs often bend during unsuccessful rides on curbs, tree roots in the forest, and so on. Speed bumps, overcome illiterately, can also bend any disks.
How to calculate this reason? The first thing to do is to inspect the wheels visually. Moreover, not only from the visible side, but also from the inside. Also, uneven disks can be seen if you hang out all the wheels one by one and scroll them by hand. Observing the rim in the process, noticeably deformed areas should be visible without any fixtures.
The solution to the problem is also quite simple. You can align the disks in the appropriate service. The service is called rolling. It is relatively inexpensive and, in principle, it is useful to perform it at least once a year. Especially if you live in a region where good roads are only shown on TV. With your own hands here, it is unlikely that something can be done. Although there are those who have successfully leveled discs using a well-known percussion instrument. However, it's best not to do so.
Unadjusted wheel alignment
For sure, even the most novice motorists know about adjusting the camber and convergence of the wheels. This procedure must be done:
- after changing winter tires to summer tires and vice versa;
- once a year, if the tires are all-weather and, accordingly, do not change for several years;
- after replacing rims, for example, when stamped wheels are replaced with cast or forged ones;
- after a run of 10,000 km;
- after any suspension or steering repair.
All these points are interchangeable and self-sufficient, that is, they work on the principle that the first will come. Also, adjustments must be repeated if there is a feeling that they have gone astray. In some cases, this can be understood even without special equipment. Firstly, the wheels “looking” in different directions can be seen if you look at the car from the front or rear. Secondly, incorrect convergence is felt on the steering wheel not only in the form of vibrations. It also constantly pulls to the side on a completely flat road.
Steering wheel wobble at speeds over 90 km/h
Smoothly we pass to the reasons from which already smacks of danger. So, the beating of the steering wheel at speed and the reasons for its manifestation can result not only in discomfort, but also in a serious accident. Therefore, in such cases, the first thing to do is to stop operating the car. And only then look for the reason among those considered here.
Without excluding the options already considered, pay attention to two more points:
- Variation in tire pressure.
Here, everything seems to be clear. Therefore, literally in a nutshell on each item.
Bumps or hernias appear on tires due to the fact that the reinforcing frame, the cord, bursts inside the rubber. As a result, a tubercle crawls out on a weakened area, which eventually grows under loads. First, this defect leads to an imbalance of the wheel, which causes a beating in the steering wheel. If such a tire is not replaced in a timely manner, sooner or later it will burst in this place. As a rule, this happens just the same at a decent speed, when the rubber is under the greatest load. Needless to say, it is impossible to drive a car on three wheels, from the word at all.
Tire pressure variation
Despite the apparent simplicity of this reason, it occurs much more often than others. Many do not follow, as expected, tire pressure. Over time, the spread increases, as almost always one wheel descends faster than others. In addition, the pressure in one of the tires can significantly decrease on the way when hitting a serious bump. Again, do not forget about self-tapping screws, out of nowhere in abundance taken on the roads. When they get into the rubber, the wheel may not deflate completely, but the pressure in it will definitely decrease.
The result of all this is one - beating in the steering wheel at high speed. The problem is also solved in the same way and simply. First, when vibration occurs, you need to stop immediately and find out the cause. Secondly, tire pressure must be monitored before each exit, as it should be, and not when a flat tire is visible from a kilometer away.
Vibration when turning
In cases where there is vibration when turning the steering wheel, it is worth starting to sin on the wear of the following parts:
- SHRUS, if the car is front-wheel drive.
- Steering gear bearings.
- Steering column cardan.
- Anti-roll bar bushings.
Traditionally, we will walk through each item separately.
CV joint wear
To begin with, we emphasize that this reason applies only to cars with front-wheel drive. With significant wear of the hinges of equal angular velocities, the beating of the steering wheel is observed just during turns and other maneuvers, regardless of the speed limit. Identifying a defect is easy. To do this, turn at minimum speed with the steering wheel fully turned. As a rule, if at least one CV joint has outlived its usefulness, in this mode it makes a nasty crunch.
This unit is usually not repairable. Only a replacement.
Steering gear bearing wear
This unit is used to transmit and convert torque from the steering shaft to the rack. When the bearings in it wear out, there is a noticeable beating on the steering wheel, which is especially briskly manifested during maneuvering. On pits and potholes, by the way, it can also slip. These bearings suffer due to bad roads, or due to careless operation of the car. For some models, as the motorists themselves note, this node is a weak point, and therefore worries very often.
Steering rack cardan wear
This detail is not present on all cars, but on most, nevertheless, it is. A cardan is intended to transmit torque from the steering wheel to the gearbox or directly to the rail, if the mechanism is without an amplifier. Mounted on bushings that tend to break or burst. Accordingly, there is a beating in the steering wheel, which is especially felt when cornering at relatively low speeds. On pits and potholes, you can also hear a characteristic crunch.
Worn stabilizer bar bushings
The anti-roll bar is designed to ensure that during sharp maneuvers the car does not roll. In most cases, this element, which is the simplest in its design, is mounted on four rubber bushings. When the resource of the latter is exhausted, a number of problems arise, including vibration when turning the steering wheel. On uneven road surfaces, the effect is usually enhanced.
Steering wheel wobble when braking
First, it is worth noting that when braking, the steering beating can be observed for some of the reasons that were discussed above. However, there are two that cause discomfort only during braking:
- Deformation of the brake discs.
- Uneven wear of brake pads or discs.
There is not much to say on these points, therefore it will be short here.
Deformed brake discs
The beating is observed for the reason that the pads, when you press the brake pedal, are pressed and slide on an uneven surface. Absolutely the same thing happens with deformed drums. The problem is determined without specialists quite easily. To do this, you need to hang the wheels on a jack, remove them, and carefully examine the parts of the brake system from all sides. As a rule, deformations sufficient for the occurrence of vibrations during braking are visible to the naked eye.
Uneven wear of brake discs
As in the previous case, the reason works in a similar way. Brake pads during braking do not slide on the discs, but literally jump. Hence the beating in the steering wheel. In addition, both defects manifest themselves in the form of vibrations not only on the steering wheel, but also on the brake pedal itself.
In the end, it remains to consider the last possible cause of the beating of the steering wheel, which always manifests itself exclusively on bad roads. Again, in such conditions, other reasons described in this article are also possible. But they make themselves felt in other driving modes, while the rest - only on bumps.
On ball bearings, the front wheels of the car are conventionally supported and have the ability to turn. Structurally, it is an extremely simple detail. It wears out in the same place where it subsequently manifests itself in the form of vibrations on the steering wheel, namely, on bad roads. Checking the ball joint is a little more difficult than the steering tips (it's all nearby, and usually checked together), but, nevertheless, it is possible.
In case of wear detection, there are two ways out of the situation. They are the same as with steering tips. The first way out is replacement. The second is recovery. In fact, on some machines, the ball joints are made in conjunction with the suspension arms, which makes replacing parts a rather expensive undertaking. For such cases, they came up with recovery.
As a result, it turns out that in many cases it is quite possible to determine the cause of the beating of the steering wheel or its vibration without the help of specialists. To make it easier to solve the problem, first try to find out exactly when the defect appears. Further, focusing on the information presented above, it is a matter of technique to calculate the problem by the method of elimination. Even if you yourself are not going to repair anything, it will still be useful to know about the source of vibrations. Firstly, you will quickly puzzle the specialist at the service station, and secondly, you will not let him impose on you the repair of parts that have not yet exhausted their resource.