Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Elizabeth asks: My car has developed a strange vibration that is most obvious when the car is not moving. I can feel it through the steering wheel. It runs and drives just fine but it never used to do this. Have you got any suggestions about what to check?
My reply: The very first thing I’d check – soon – are the engine mounts. What you describe is a symptom of a loose/failing mount. When that happens, the engine is no longer securely held in place – the mounts being bolted to the car’s chassis/frame and those bad vibrations will eventually cause something to break. The good news is that, generally speaking, engine mounts are relatively easy and inexpensive to replace. I’d look into this sooner rather than later!
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Something similar happened to me recently, but it was a spark plug on its way to failure. It seems it was misfiring, but not badly enough to set a “check engine” code, either for a general misfire or for any specific cylinder. After about 200 miles with the odd vibration, the plug failed badly enough to lead to a very noticeable loss of power, vibration, and check engine warnings. The plugs were about due for a change, but not yet overdue.
In addition to Eric’s good advice; could also be the exhaust. If something is tweaked just a little so that a part which normally doesn’t contact the exhaust now does…or if an exhaust hanger has come a little bit loose, it can make and transmit such a vibration, and the exhaust doesn’t have to be broken for it to do so- The car can be as quiet as ever.
A good way to tell is: When the car is doing what you describe, get out and walk around to the tailpipe, and try to notice if a vibrating sound is ringing through the tailpipe.