Reader Question: Shaking Corolla?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Joe asks: My 1998 Corolla starts shaking while traveling at 70-80 mph. If traveling above 80 mph it stops. Also if I’m turning the steering wheel while traveling at the above mentioned rate of speed it seems fine. It doesn’t seem to be the CV joint as I recently replaced the brake shoes on the beast. Any thoughts or suggestions will be greatly appreciated as I’m too poor to pay attention. Thank you in advance.

My reply: The most probable thing is an out-of-balance wheel/tire; that would be the first thing I’d check, at any rate. One way to do it without equipment is to rotate the wheels/tires and see whether that changes anything. If the problem/sound/sensation seems to move from front to back (after rotating the tires) you’ve pretty much got your answer – and have narrowed it down to two out of the four possible culprits.

If it’s not a wheel/tire imbalance, then it’s time to check suspension components, wheel bearings, CV joints and so on – process of elimination.

Let us know what it turns out to be!

. . .

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  1. A whell/tire(s) out of balance will certainly cause shaking. Worn out shocks will take this to another level so intense you’ll think the steering wheel is going to break and/or, the front wheels, if that is where the problem is, will begin jumping up and down to the point of loss of control. I’ve witnessed this phenomena on everything from pickups to big rigs. At this point there’s generally a lot of front-end wear so anything can happen…and will given enough time without repair.

  2. check the tread and surface of the tire. A separated belt inside can cause a terrible shake. Look for a bulge or misaligned tread pattern.

    • Good point! I had forgotten about this one.

      Our VFD had this happen on two different one ton trucks, and actually on REAR tires.

      One, a single tire pickup, would just start handling crazy for no apparent reason. It felt like suddenly towing a long trailer that was tail heavy and swinging.

      The other, a dually, would just start bouncing up and down terribly even with 200 gallons of water, pump, and all the tools on the flatbed. It would come and go, and not necessarily at high speeds.

  3. Agree on the tire balance, ha d the same problem on my Mazda 3; switched the tires front to back and it went away. Now one of these days I’ll get it to a shop and get the wheels balanced ?

  4. Back when easily removed hubcaps were still a thing, I loved putting a handful of loose ball bearings under the caps in friends wheels as a good prank. The racket they made would mystify many. And at the right speed, the bearings would spin in sync with the wheel and the noise would stop making it more mysterious.


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