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    Thread: HELP - Front End Suspension Problems Driving Me NUTS!

    1. #1
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      Angry HELP - Front End Suspension Problems Driving Me NUTS!

      Ok, here's the problem(s). I'll do this chronologically so its easier to follow:

      About 6 months ago, I started to get a "wobble" in my steering wheel. Had it at all speeds, but really noticeable at about 25 to 40 mph. I also noticed when taking corners, but really was always there.

      Took the car in for a tire balance and was told the car is out of alignment - getting premature wear on the outside of the front tires.

      I took the car home, jacked up the front and looked at front suspension. Tie rods looked good, as did the ball joints, but a front bushing was loose on one of the control arms. Okay, I replace both control arms (with ball joints) and torque everything to spec, then take it in for an alignment.

      Took the car to a local trusted shop for an alignment. Alignment was adjusted (front toe adjusted and the rear right suspension was shimmed) - shop owner told me that the tires were toast and said he could not balance them. He concluded that the "wobble" in my steering was from bad tires (Michelin Pilots at end of their life).

      When I got the car home, I checked the lower control arms for tightness. The arms were torques correctly, but I discovered that one of the ball joints was not tightened on the arm from factory (Moog arms that came with ball joints). So, one alignment down the drain (a bit of play due to the loose ball joint)

      Ok, get new tires (Nexen D5000's). No new alignment yet. Car drives perfect. No wobble, shimmy or anything. Drives like new.

      Worried about a potential alignment problem due to the loose ball joint, I took the car to a local GM dealer for an alignment this time (cheaper and close to work). I was told that a strut was leaking oil and a stabilizer bar link was loose (odd that the other shop didn't find this). GM shop said that both did not need replacing yet, but will soon. I said to proceed with the alignment and I will fix the strut and link later. The GM tech tells me that the toe on the alignment was out and the right rear needed shims (the one that was fixed by the other shop).

      After the GM alignment, I immediately noticed a slight wobble. I also felt something like a bounce (almost like a failed strut letting the tire bounce). Its been two weeks and its getting worse.

      I checked the suspension again today - nothing looks wrong. Control arms, ball joints, tie rod ends, wheel bearings - all seem good. Perplexed, I'm taking the car in to the tire shop today to have a look at the wheel balance. Thats the only thing I can see out......

      OR - there is something drastically wrong with my front end that will not keep the front end in alignment and is prematurely wearing the tires. If the tires won't balance (or the balance does not correct the problem), then I need HELP!

      Sorry for the long winded story!


      Last edited by whitefish; 09-14-2011 at 06:22 PM.

    2. #2
      Senior Member daug1502's Avatar
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      Long winded is fine very keeps us from asking questions to get the whole story.

      How well do you trust and know the shops and dealerships you took the car to? I would fix it one more time at the shop I trust the most, and if something goes wrong take it back again. You might even get it fixedx cheaper as they should have noticed in the first place. I'm not sure what could be tearing your suspension up unless you somehow had a bent frame or the suspension mounting locations were messed up somehow. HAd a truck with a bent frame for a while, it tore through ball joints.
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    3. #3
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      Thanks daug - no, no problems with the suspension or frame. I had one H**L of a time getting the rear control arm bolt out (bolt ceased in the bushing which bent the joint abit), but I assume that its back into shape after re-installing the bolt (would bring the joint back into alignment).

      Frankly, I think the GM shop just looks for stuff to fix (never seem to find this stuff while the car is on warranty) - I don't trust them as much as the local shop. They said the right rear wheel was out of alignement, but their own spec sheet shows the "misalignement" is within tolerance.

      I really hope someone just knocked a wheel weight off!

      BTW, something else I did notice last night - I check the front discs and rear drums out for a future brake job. I noticed that the drivers side front disc appeared to be rubbing on the caliper slightly (build up of rust and possible ceased caliper pins). Not sure if this would have an affect.
      Last edited by whitefish; 09-14-2011 at 06:53 PM.

    4. #4
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      being i know how to do alignments, and know what degrees of this or that mean, and how they affect driving, I have never had one alignment done that i was completely happy with. I tend to alight the car myself anymore with tapemeasures and bobs, and use the $100 i save on the next set of tires (my tires are $200 a set about, so if i "dont" do 2 alignments a year, i can pay for new tires instead).

      From reading your description i see a few red flags.


      If you align the car to "compensate" for worn parts, then it will be off when you replace the parts. the alignment is worthless if those parts hold the spindle, or steering, which from the explanation i think you know already.

      the rear should normally be in spec unless you lower the car, might be a sign of premature wear on the bushings?

      wheel weight wobble is worse at excessive speed, but is wobbling all the time, if the wheel is "worn" to the point it is not balance-able, it was not balanced in the first place. But if a wheel does not balance, the shop should mark and rotate the tire on the rim, this is a lost art it seems. A weight missing or missed balanced wheel is usually a fast shake, like a vibration in the wheel.

      the bad tires is very likely in the bad feel of an alignment. And the ball joint being loose is an indicator of a alignment point, aveo should not need it moved as it has two bolts on the strut but it could need moved. This could have been done at the alignment.

      a leaking strut, will not affect alignment like you seem to be led to believe, it controls bounce and rebound, but it will hold alignment even if it is leaking.


      but an explanation of why your alignment doesn't work? you will get a different answer every time, from every alignment tech.


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      Thanks PR - I have seen lots of You Tube videos on doing an alignment as you suggest - I'll have to try this one time.

      Yup - whenever you replace something in the suspension, an alignment is needed.

      The right rear may have been sagging due to an accident in that corner. I can't confirm this, as the car was a GM business vehicle originally and they likely fixed it themselves. The reason why I "think" it was in an accident is the fact that the paint looks off in this corner. That said, the car has been like this since I got it with 10k miles on it. Never had a tire wear or wobble problem due to this.

      The wobble is more pronounced at low speed and at highway speed (70mph). I've had "wheel wobble" before on different vehicles and it was almost always a unbalanced tire. Balancing the old Michelins didn't fix this. However, when I got the new Nexen's on the wobble and vibration went away completely, I concluded that the original shop owner was right (rightly or wrongly). The tires were failing (may have mentioned belt separation - can't remember).

      And the ball joint being loose is an indicator of a alignment point, aveo should not need it moved as it has two bolts on the strut but it could need moved. This could have been done at the alignment.
      A little confused by this. The ball joint attaches to the control arm with two bolts, not to the strut. It then bolts to the steering knuckle at the ball. On the new control arm I purchased, the mounting point on the control arm (two bolts) was not tight. I should have double checked this before I installed, but I didn't. As a result, the first alignment done may have been off due to the small amount of play (maybe).

      In the end, I'm not a concerned as to why an alignment is off as I am as to why my tire wobble remains. Car is going to the shop in 1/2 hour for a balance check. I'll let you know how it goes.
      Last edited by whitefish; 09-14-2011 at 11:10 PM.

    6. #6
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      Well back from Wally world. Tires have been balanced, but the wobble/vibration persists. This is driving me nuts.

      Can CV joints or front bearings cause this? How do I test?

      Thanks again

    7. #7
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      The ball joint could have been loosened by the alignment tech and not your fault. But as goes. It should have been checked and tightened by the tech whether you left it loose accidentally or he loosened it.

      Wheel bearing can cause a vibration. Jack the car up and try to wiggle the wheel. That works if they are really bad. Otherwise you need to pull the wheel and try moving the hub up and down. With a way to see it.

      What kind of vibration to you have? Difference parts cause different vibrations at different times.


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      I've actually seen rotors with excessive LRO cause a wobble/shake....And since you said you replaced the lower control arms, and balanced the tires, and you think you have a frozen caliper pin...it might be something to look into.

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      Quote Originally Posted by petrified.rabbit View Post
      The ball joint could have been loosened by the alignment tech and not your fault. But as goes. It should have been checked and tightened by the tech whether you left it loose accidentally or he loosened it.
      Good point

      Wheel bearing can cause a vibration. Jack the car up and try to wiggle the wheel. That works if they are really bad. Otherwise you need to pull the wheel and try moving the hub up and down. With a way to see it.

      What kind of vibration to you have? Difference parts cause different vibrations at different times.
      I tried checking the driver side bearing last night (used blocks and a crow bar to get leverage under the hub). Didn't budge at all. I'll check the passenger side tonight. I'll post pictures that I have as well.

      The wobble occurs at about 25 to 40mph. You can see the steering wheel move back an forth at this speed. At about 40-45mph, the wobble becomes a vibration - you can feel the whole car shake at times. At about 70mph, there is a vibration, but it isn't as bad - you can see very slight movement back and forth in the steering wheel. My guess is that the wobble is faster at higher speeds and has turned into a vibration.

    10. #10
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      Quote Originally Posted by Ratchet104 View Post
      I've actually seen rotors with excessive LRO cause a wobble/shake....And since you said you replaced the lower control arms, and balanced the tires, and you think you have a frozen caliper pin...it might be something to look into.
      I thought about this too (warped rotors). I pulled the caliper and rotor last night to check for wear and a possible ceased caliper pin (will post pictures later). The rotor was wearing into the caliper, but the pins were not ceased - rotor was so tight to the caliper it wasn't allowing any movement. I ground off the raised rust on the rotor for now and put it back together to at least get clearance until I change the front rotors and pads.

      I'll try spinning the rotors tonight to see if there is any warp.



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