Vibration in Steering at 55-70 Mph, Clunky Noises Over Bumps, Especially when Cold - Chevy Cobalt Forum / Cobalt Reviews / Cobalt SS / Cobalt Parts
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-28-2014, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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Vibration in Steering at 55-70 Mph, Clunky Noises Over Bumps, Especially when Cold

So I've had some vibration in the steering wheel at speeds between about 55 and 70. I rotated the tires and the issue stayed exactly the same. I'm thinking it might not be a balance issue because of that. Though I have considered getting it balanced, I'm torn between getting a regular balance or a road-force balance.

Anyway though, outside of balance issues, what would be the leading culprit for things that could cause that vibration, paired with clunky noises going over bumps? I've been told to check out the bushings, and I have a few picks I can share with you guys to help me decide if they're worn out or not, but since they're so cheap on RockAuto, I figure I can afford to buy them and replace them and go from there. I was thinking of doing control arm bushings first, then the stabilizer bar bushings.

So what do you guys think? Is that the right course of action, or does anyone else have an idea for a cheaper/easier fix that they've seen work?
Thank you in advance for your time and help with this!
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-28-2014, 10:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justinw303 View Post
So I've had some vibration in the steering wheel at speeds between about 55 and 70. I rotated the tires and the issue stayed exactly the same. I'm thinking it might not be a balance issue because of that. Though I have considered getting it balanced, I'm torn between getting a regular balance or a road-force balance.

Anyway though, outside of balance issues, what would be the leading culprit for things that could cause that vibration, paired with clunky noises going over bumps? I've been told to check out the bushings, and I have a few picks I can share with you guys to help me decide if they're worn out or not, but since they're so cheap on RockAuto, I figure I can afford to buy them and replace them and go from there. I was thinking of doing control arm bushings first, then the stabilizer bar bushings.

So what do you guys think? Is that the right course of action, or does anyone else have an idea for a cheaper/easier fix that they've seen work?
Thank you in advance for your time and help with this!
I had a similar issue to this, turns out it was a tie rod.. On suspension issues like this if I'm stumped..I'll go to Firestone and use a coupon for the $10 inspection..they'll always tell you that you need shocks and struts and then they'll tell you the issue.

I believe that 10 inspection also comes with a balance and/or rotate.
They'll ask you if you have had any issues, let them know about the vibration.

After they are done looking it over they'll tell you what they think you need, just be nice and say that you would like some time to think it over.

Now, what I usually do is do a google search for them in my area and go with the one with the best rating because they can be hit and miss.

I just mention firestone because they are a chain that is near by, I'm sure you can do the same thing at other chains/franchises, the firestone near me only employs ASE certified. the labor is usually pretty expensive and they have a high markup on the parts, so I would not get the labor done there, just the troubleshooting.

I believe there's a company called NTB that will also do inspections for cheap or free, though I haven't had any experiece with them.

Hopefully this helps. It's a method I've used so that I can still do the labor myself even if I'm stumped on the troubleshooting side of things.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-01-2014, 07:29 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I just really hate going to places like that for diagnostic because I'm too easy to persuade into just having them do the work, especially since I've never done suspension work, and though I have everything I'd need, I don't really have a good workspace. I could do it, but it'd be a minor hassle. But I do have a $50 coupon to the local dealership, so I might opt for that route and schedule an appointment for something labeled as strictly diagnostic so maybe there will be no pressure.

I've also considered the tie-rods, as the rubber boots are cracked in some places and they look tilted, and I'm not sure if they're supposed to be that way. I'll update this post with pictures when I get back to my computer.

I'm going to try to describe the situation in more detail so someone else might be able to identify it:

1: The steering wheel thing is more of a shake than a vibration. Between roughly 55 and 68 mph, peaking in the middle, if I let go of the wheel you can see it turning back and forth rapidly, with I'd say a maximum of 2 millimeters of movement each way. Even with hands on the wheel it isn't steady. I'll have to ask the next person riding with me if they can feel the shake from where they're sitting, but I'm almost certain they can.

2: Most of the streets I drive on are smooth, but the streets in my neighborhood can have a few mildly bumpy areas. When driving over them at low speeds, every bump produces a sound from somewhere on the front end. It's a "clunking" sound, if I had to pin it down, but a higher pitched clunking than what you may be thinking of, if that makes any sense. It feels like it's worse leaving in the morning than it is coming back, but I'll need to test that more definitively tomorrow.

3: Bump steer. Driving over small bumps causes a little play in the steering wheel, and I guess that's a little normal, but when I recently went down a incline with what seemed to be a quilt of potholes that had been filled in, the wheel was jerking back and forth quite a bit. Went down the name slope in my fiancÚ's 2013 Passat, any play in wheel was probably 40-50% of the amount I was getting in the balt. And on a grooved road recently that was soon to be paved, it's like my wheels found a track and I had became a trolley. It felt crazy how much the grooves were trying to guide my steering.

So that's about the best I can do for describing the problems. In addition, I think my rear shocks are out, or at least in need if replacement, because I can see grease or some kind of fluid that's leaked out and is coating part if the shock on both sides. The front shocks I'm not really sure about, I guess I could do a bounce test on each of them, but I hate having to try to interpret the results of such a test.

Last edited by Justinw303; 10-02-2014 at 07:57 AM.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-01-2014, 08:25 AM
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Sure sounds like bad tie-rods to me inner or outer. An 1/8" play at a tie rod becomes a 1/2" play at the edge of the tire. Enough to make your car wander. The shaking at the wheel is actually the wheel flopping side to side by that 1/2", get it looked at or you will badly start wearing your front tires.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-01-2014, 11:19 AM Thread Starter
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Here are photos of both tie-rod ends:





Looks like a fairly simple replacement, Haynes has me needing 1 replacement nut (looks like it comes with the outer tie-rod), a rented puller from autozone, and a wrench. How much harder is it to do the inner tie-rod? Haynes doesn't go that deep, but I have a service manual I can check out for that. Would you recommend Moog, ACDelco, or a different brand? Lookin on Rockauto, open to any suggestion though, just want quality parts.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-01-2014, 02:05 PM
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Only replace the bad one. Easy enough to check, you putyour hand over it so you touch both tie-rod and knuckle and have someone turn the steering wheel, if you have any significant play it's bad same with inners you just squeez the booth until you feel the ball and shoulder and look for play.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-01-2014, 02:51 PM Thread Starter
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Turn the wheel as well, when checking the inner tie-rod?

And this isn't an item where it's recommended to replace in pairs, like shocks and springs?

Any replacement brand recommendations?
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-05-2014, 12:19 PM Thread Starter
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Well I tried what you said, had her turn the wheel as I had my hand on the tie-rod end and I couldn't feel any excessive play, or really any movement outside of what I would think would be normal. So stuck again. Guess I'll see about setting up that diagnostic appointment.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-06-2014, 11:20 AM
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6 Things it can be.

Tie rods. You checked.
Control arm bushings
Sway bar bushings.
Unbalance tires
Alignment
Endlinks
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-08-2014, 09:33 AM Thread Starter
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After watching a few videos, I see that I wasn't thorough enough in testing the tie-rod ends, and because I really want it to be tie-rods, I'm going to give it a much more comprehensive test. I'll report back later today.

Assuming it's definitely not tie-rods, what's the best method for checking control arm bushings?
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