So I just had my car's wheels changed over from winter tires back to
summer ones. All of the tires have their own rims, so the tires don't
have to be taken off and remounted on a single set of rims, just swap
the sets around. After I did that this time, I noticed that there is a
large vibration at the steering wheel, when the car is travelling from
above 100 km/h (60 mph) to 120 km/h (75 mph), and then it dies down
again. I'm thinking that perhaps a wheel balance weight might have
fallen off, since this vibration didn't happen with the winter set, and
I can just have these tires rebalanced. However, I'm worried this could
be a more serious problem with the suspension itself. So is it more
likely to be a wheel balance issue, or a suspension issue?
Every time I've had that problem, it's just been a lost wheel weight.
Since it's so easy and inexpensive to get wheels balanced, I would
certainly suggest that you try that first. If it works, then problem
On Monday, April 24, 2017 at 11:19:21 AM UTC-7, Yousuf Khan wrote:
If you wanted to, you could start worrying
about a potential problem with not only
the suspension but also something going wrong
with steering, and possibly damaged tires :)))
Many things to worry about in a car.
Since you experienced the problem right after a
wheel swap, the most logical thing to worry about
would be tire balance, or tire damage.
On Monday, April 24, 2017 at 9:21:43 PM UTC-7, email@example.com wrote:
More logic: you might have damaged the suspension
while changing the tires. How about that fo wooring
about something. Are your tire changing skill good?
Tools in good shape. Did you lift the car
Seriously I would check the tires for possible damage,
I had that due to a tire with a bias separation. It had been ran flat
for 20 miles starting from home. It felt a bit squirrely so I pulled
over and the wheel had been riding on the tread. Ouch. Reinflated and
replaced a leaky valve stem when I got back home. Still drove on it for
awhile but it caused vibration only at about 62 mph (not there at 60, or
below, or at 65, and above). Was going to get a new set but totalled
once of my Subies so grabbed the mags and tire set off of it (the
insurer only deducted $30 but required a set of 4 wheels+tires so I
found some spares for really cheap - they just needed it to roll).
Another time a balancing weight got thrown off so, yeah, it vibrated.
Had cheap steelies on at the time with no wheel cover and slapped into a
hard (iced) snow bank. When digging out the packed ice-snow stuck in
the wheel (because that really threw off the balance), I could see the
shinier (less dirty) spot where the weight had been that was now gone.
Fixed with a tire rebalance. Maybe you bent the wheel while offroading
but the summer tires went into storage before you noticed the vibration.
Balancing won't work. Need a new wheel or someone to bang out the old
one (but I wouldn't trust the old wheel).
Got any deal with the tires that includes free rotation? They might
throw in a balance check (but doing the rebalance would cost). I also
keep getting $25 off cards from a local car shop that's done a lot of
work for me and that covers a chunk of a balance (of all 4). I've seen
where off-car balancing was insufficient compared to on-car balancing.
I had a wheel that banged into a curve when I spun around on ice in a
turn. Had to replace the bent wheel. Then I noticed a vibration.
Turned out it was an out-round-tire that didn't exhibit noticeable
vibration on the old wheel but did on the new wheel. Kept using it (on
the back axle, though) until all tires got replaced.
Some places will do a free brake check. Have them check if the pistons
in the calipers are sticking and pushing the pad at an angle to the
disc. Not sure how changing the tire set would suddenly expose a
sticking brake pad. After driving for awhile, like from work to home,
press your hand against the wheels (no covers) to see if one is a lot
hotter than the others (the fronts will be warmer than the rears but one
on the same axle shouldn't be a lot hotter than the other). The brake
check should include steering check, including them trying to wobble the
wheels when lifted to check for wearing wear, spinning on the car to
check for bearing noise, and checking the connects to the wheels (e.g.,
look for slop in the steering dampeners).
I don't recall a misalignment causing vibration, just pull or drift. I
usually wait until just after pot-hole season to do a yearly alignment
check unless something makes me suspicious. Worn tie rod ends can cause
vibration but I would think it would've beent here with your winter set
unless the winter set were so fat and knobby that their own increased
road noise masked the vibration. Do you just feel or hear the vibration
or can you see it by having 1 finger resting atop the steering wheel?
There might be a stablizer bar shock (aka anti-vibration shock aka
steering dampener) you might to have checked. I've not looked into
Subies if they have one. I've had off-road vehicles with huge knobby
tires and they had a steering shock. Without it, the tires would start
to wobble and it would quickly accelerate to make driving very dangerous
and the car would start bouncing left and right. Scared the crap out of
me. When I go underneath, I could see where it used to be mounting.
They forget to put it back on after some engine or tranny work. See:
That mentions a steering dampener that might be worn or shrunk as it
dried out over time. However, I can't see how steering slop would
suddenly show up by changing a tire set but maybe it's possible slop was
less noticeable with your winter set.
Can you feel any play in the steering (lag before response)? That could
indicate (other than steering system problems) a worn wheel bearing.
Any griding noise or increased friction noise when you turn left or
right? However, you said the vibration showed up immediately after
switching to the summer tire set. The bearing would've been worn before
with your winter set but I suppose a different (wrong) offset in the
wheels could mask that (and probably have caused the wear).
Vibration can be caused by a flat spot on a tire. That's usually from
leaving the car parked for a long time without moving it (to get a
different spot on each tire to take the static load). Hopefully the
summer tire set weren't on another car sitting unused all during the
winter. I had a 24 year old Subie that got used little so it had flat
spots on the tires. Took a couple miles to roll it out. Does the
vibration go away after driving for awhile?
I'm presuming you checked all tires have the same and proper pressures.
Did you check for any feathering at one side of the tread? Maybe when
you put them on again, the feathered edge is one the wrong side - but
then you need an alignment job or new wheel bearing. My aunt's Subie
had some severe feathering on one side of the tire and wasn't noticed
until she complained about a change in handling after a tire rotate (I
would've thought the shop have told her about the wear problem but it
was a freebie coupon and she got what she [didn't] paid for - just the
I've seen vibration just from lug nuts. One guy only replaced his old
ones because he wanted new shiny ones. Vibration gone. I suspect he
had a mismatched set of lug nuts. I have to wonder if those locking lug
nuts might not be different weight and profile than the standard ones.
Did you check for mud packed into the wheel? Don't know how you use
your summer tire set. I've had both packed mud (summer) and packed snow
(winter) throw off the balance.
Does this Subie have automatic tire pressure sensors? Those have
batteries inside the stems that last 10 years or 100K miles. If someone
worked on your summer tire set soon before storing them, maybe they put
in a standard valve stem but the wheels had previously been balanced
with the sensored valve stems. I'm sure the battery has more weight
than the air space inside a standard valve stem. Looked at the blob on
the end of this one (hidden inside the tire so you won't see it unless
the tire is unmounted from the wheel):
I didn't bother to hunt around to see if anyone reporting the sensor
body flying off the stem and rolling around inside the tire. Someone
putting in a standard valve stem and not rebalancing the tire afterward
would probably make it off balanced by just a little bit which would
show up at high speed.
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