Steering wheel shake at high speed after strut replacement (Pls move to 7th gen forum - Chevy Impala Forums
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post #1 of (permalink) Old 12-31-2016 Thread Starter
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Steering wheel shake at high speed after strut replacement (Pls move to 7th gen forum

2004 3.4 Impala base - I replaced both front struts a couple days ago, and torqued/tightened to spec (both off and on ground to be sure).

Everything seemed fine on the street for a couple days, then I took it on the highway today for the first time. After being on the highway for about 5 minutes, my steering wheel started vibrating/shimmying/shaking terribly at about 60 mph. It was slightly noticeable then abruptly got worse.

This was not the type of shaking you get with an out of round tire or a slightly bent rim - this was more like a violent my-wheel-might-fall-off kind of shake.

I turned the hazards on and rode the shoulder to the nearest exit. I feel no shaking/vibration at lower/street speeds (0-50 mph). Luckily I was able to coast it along and avoid a tow.

It's back home now - I jacked it up to see if there was some looseness/wiggle in the wheels, passenger side has an ever so slight wiggle, but generally not feeling a whole lot of play in the wheels - the lower ball joints/control arm bushing aren't in that great of shape, guessing they need replaced but want to make sure I know exactly what is causing the vibration - My question is:

Would the ball joints be the most likely cause of the vibration, or is it an issue with the alignment after putting on the new struts? I've done a strut/spring assembly, never had this problem. I did use aftermarket/cheap Monroe stuff, maybe that's the reason but there's not a whole lot to the strut. There are new CV axles, tie rod ends, and wheel bearings on both sides as well, those were replaced a couple of months ago. I've basically had to replace my whole front suspension with the exception of the ball joints which are still original (166K).

Last edited by jrd0304; 12-31-2016 at 06:57 PM. Reason: Clicked wrong forum
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 12-31-2016
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First double check the stuff that actually got removed.

-Were the wheels removed and are they back on correctly, with nuts correctly tightened, or were the lug nuts not tightened and the wheels are loose? You may have overlooked torquing the nuts. Shit happens.

This may also not be directly a result of the new struts...

-Can you hear any clunking by turning the steering wheel repeatedly in one direction against the resistance, then the same action in the other direction, engine off? Alternately, have someone else do this, one direction a few times, then the other direction a few times with you under neath and feeling for slop in the tire rods.This helps find any tie rod looseness.

-Try to pry lightly at the ball joints to see if you can find any movement.
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I double checked the lug nuts, they seemed good and snug. I don't hear clunking at all when steering side to side. Tie rods appear to be snug in both directions. The ball joints don't move with the pry bar. The control arm bushing is a little torn but it's still good and snug in the frame.

I definitely think it's time for 2 new lower control arm/ball joint assemblies but I want to make sure that's the root cause of the steering wheel shimmy.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 01-01-2017 Thread Starter
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I did everything I could to detect looseness in the front suspension, and came up with nothing. Because the CV axles and tie rods are newer, I'm just going to rule those out. Everything indicates it's related to the strut right now. I put a level up to each tire diametrically and the passenger side is cockeyed. I am going to try a wheel alignment to see if that corrects the problem. The old struts were worn badly and the new ones definitely corrected ride height.. I think new control arms/lower ball joint assemblies would help it out but I am going to gamble and say they're not critical in terms of fixing the issue I am having. I will keep everyone posted on how things go.. If the alignment doesn't correct the problem, then the only thing left would be lower ball joints.
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Wheel alignment + balance correction on driver side tire did the trick. Glad I didn't waste my time fixing anything else. The old struts must have been sagging to the point where the driver side tire wore unevenly.
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Glad it got worked out...

In the title I was wondering if it was put in the title because you already wrote it out before you posted. THen you seen you were in the wrong part of the forum...??

If that is the case, Next time you do this and want to move it you can do it yourself. When you type out what you want however see your in the wrong area, then want to change to a different area.

Press the CTRL and A at the same time That will highlight your text, remember your doing this before you POST
THen Press CTRL and X That CUTS the highlighted area.
Then you can press cancel at the bottom or the back button either way. It may ask if you want to loose your info just pick yes as it is now in your computers memory

Then move to the area that you want to Post in Like the 7th Gen Click the Make new thread. The box comes up and then click in the box with your mouse so you are in the message area. (If it wasn't already)

Press CTRL and V and that will Paste what you had just CUT from...

Hope this helps

James

It isn't what you Drive that matters, It is how you drive it.

James
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 01-04-2017 Thread Starter
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Ok I'll move it next time - one more thing, I have come to realize my wobbly was also partially due to a failing caliper. My passenger side caliper was sticking just enough to cause a wobble at a high speed. How did I find out? Burning smell and a red hot rotor after a clip on the freeway. It just so happened my caliper(s) began to fail while I had my car sitting waiting for my struts to arrive, and they finally gave in after I put them in. If any of you have this issue, double check you're not getting any drag on your calipers. This is something I didn't see very often in other threads/posts about wheel vibration so I figured I would share my awesome experience.
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