Have you ever been driving your car and suddenly it becomes wobbly? Even if it does not start wobbling immediately, it could be a problem that has developed over time and now it is just unbearable. What could be the issue? Is driving such a car dangerous?
A number of things can potentially lead to the car feeling wobbly. Such things include wheels, brake faults, tire issues, engine issues, and possible suspension damage. If you can identify the issue early, then the right steps can be taken to remedy the situation.
Uneven wear of tires
Unevenly worn or cupped tires are the biggest reason you would have a wobbly car.
This means that the tires on the car are not worn the same. Sometimes it can appear as if a person was shaving off specific spots on the tires making them so bad when it comes to driving.
Cupped tires could be because of worn struts and shocks. Since the work of the struts and shocks is to take up the vibrations, they will not do their job if they are worn. This means all the work is left to the tire and wheel.
Continuously bumping into speed bumps will leave you with a vehicle that feels wobbly after some time.
Another reason for cupped tires is because they are unbalanced.
When was the last time you balanced your tires? As such, it is important to visit a tire shop to find out if the tires are unbalanced and have them balanced for a smoother ride.
If balancing does not help solve the problem, check the struts and shocks to ensure they are in good condition or they could be the reason you have a wobbly ride.
Here is how tire balancing is done.
Wobble at low speeds (up to 20mph)
Wobbling at different speeds can mean different things. First, we try to understand what wobbling at low speeds means.
Let us say you are driving at 20mph and you notice some wobble. It could mean that you have a severely bent wheel or several. In case you live in an area with large potholes, expect this to be the main reason for the bent wheels.
Get to a tire shop and have them look at your wheels to determine which one is wobbling. In case the bent is severe, replace it with OEM wheels.
It is possible to tell where the wobble is depending on how you feel it. In case you feel the wobble through your steering wheel, it means that the front tires have a problem.
If someone is seated at the rear, they can notice the rear tires wobbling and alert you. However, you would still feel that the car is not driving right and take action.
Wobbling at high speeds (over 30mph)
Wobbling at higher speeds means there is a slight bent in the wheel. Make sure that you have the wheels checked at a reputable shop to identify the culprit. Ignoring it could lead to a safety issue that you do not want to experience.
Other than having a bent, it could be that your wheels need balancing. Let the auto shop check each wheel to ascertain if it needs balancing. Appropriate measures should be taken to remedy the wobble if balancing is the problem.
Other than balancing, the other reason you have a wobbly car is because of improper alignment.
Toe and caster are the main reasons why you might be having this issue.
Excessive toe-in can potentially lead to shakes and wobble in the car. This is because the tires would be fighting for traction they cannot get. The result is that there is a wobble and the tires wear unevenly.
Make sure the toe settings are as recommended by the car manufacturer to improve the smoothness of the ride.
The excessive caster can also be another scary experience. You will mostly notice the wobble when going through a roundabout. Some people even called it the death wobble. We recommend having the car aligned properly to address both issues.
Worn Suspension Parts
As mentioned before, the suspension parts could also lead to a wobble which can be quite uncomfortable.
We are talking of struts, shocks, bushings, and more. This is because you end up with too many vibrations and wobbles being transferred into the car.
Make it a routine to have the suspension parts checked to ensure they are in good condition. Always work with a professional mechanic who can deliver good work always.
This is the kind of wobble you feel each time you brake. It could be that the brake pads or rotors are worn.
When the brake pads are worn, you end up braking metal to metal. As such, this can potentially lead to overheating of the rotor and also bumpy braking.
Also, if the brake pads or rotors are unevenly worn, it can cause the same. You start to experience the wobble.
Another reason could be that the rotor is bent. A bent rotor generally leads to wobbling and the solution is to have it replaced. Replace it in good time and you should be able to brake better and still have a smooth ride.
It is possible for the engine issues to make the car wobble, vibrate or shake as you drive.
The first thing to look at should the spark plugs. They are essential for the burning of fuel in the combustion chamber. However, in case the spark plugs are faulty, there can be a misfire resulting in shaking or wobbling of the car.
Replacing sparkplugs is a generally easy process and you can do it yourself if you have the right tools. Here is a video on how to change spark plugs.
Other than sparkplugs, a blocked air filter could lead to drop in power and vibrating of the car. This is before there is not enough air to help in burning all the fuel in the combustion chamber.
Luckily, replacing the air filter is also easy and can just take a few minutes. Start by opening the box containing the air filter to see if it is blocked and replace it with a clean one to improve the car’s performance.
Will it be safe to drive with a wobbly wheel?
As much as you can drive with a wobbling wheel, do not make it a habit. It can lead to more wear to the tire that would be avoided. Also, you can lose control of your vehicle leading to accidents.
Why does the car feel wobbly when driving slowly?
The biggest reason could be that you have a severely bent wheel. Take the car to a repair shop and have the wheel repaired as soon as possible.
Will having a bad alignment lead to wobbling?
Yes. Alignment issues are some of the reasons you may have unsteadiness in the car. A bad alignment could also lead to vibrations and uneven wear of the tires.
How to check if the wheels need balancing?
Each time you are driving and the car wobbles or vibrates at a high speed, it could mean that the tires are unbalanced. Let a tire shop check them just to be sure and still balance the tires.