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    Thread: stiff steering

    1. #1
      What's wrong with my car?
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      stiff steering

      I'm not exactly sure how to best describe what is going on with my 2005 Aveo SVM Hatchback, with 114,000 miles but here goes:

      Last weekend I had new lower control arms with ball joints, and new mounting bolts, and new sway bar links installed, because the car would "dart" right, then left when braking, and I was told control arm bushings were bad. Problem solved, but now the car drives straight, then with no warning starts pulling right or left at random, and turning the car behaves stiffly, if that makes any sense. I've been told that I may need new front struts, and I get a "thumping" sound from the right rear, such as a wheel bearing, or a bad tire. Tread on tires looks good, but I'm not ruling out a pulled belt in one or more of the tires. From what I can guess, the car has sat for some time in it's past. I also can't rule out the possibility of a bent rim, as the right front wheel cover had a chunk missing out of it. Possible that previous owner may have bounced it off a curb in slippery conditions.

      I am thinking of having tires rotated/rebalanced to see if anything changes.

      Any thoughts out there of what I might have going on before I start throwing good money at the car trying to solve this?

      Oh yeah, when I leave my 3rd shift job in the morning, the car "wobbles" side to side when driving slowly through the parking lot at work.

      Thanks in advance.


      Last edited by Hoosiertrucker; 10-06-2019 at 06:19 AM.

    2. #2
      Should I keep it?
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      Hoosier
      .....the car "wobbles" side to side when driving slowly through the parking lot at work.


      It the tires are radials the tires are out of round unless they are built on nylon cord bias ply (1960 versions) and cold.

      Lots of radial tires are out of round and some get that way as they age.

      Random pulling left and right..... I am thinking of having tires rotated/rebalanced to see if anything changes.
      Balance would not be the problem with pulling. If a tire had ply steer (a belt in the tire not vulcanized together) it would pull to only one side, not right and then left. Rotating tires (front to rear) would be worthwhile if you did it yourself just to see if anything changed.

      Regarding the stiff steering, I would jack up the car and disconnect the outer tie rods and manually pivot each strut to the full right and left and determine if they both turn freely and listen for noises. Also check for any looseness in the struts or strut mounts.

      I had a car that did what you described. It turned out the sub-frame was bent and I replaced several items but the car never did track correctly. Was the car in any accidents?

      I worked in a tire and alignment shop for 20 years but never did frame measuring or straightening.
      Last edited by OG-Lou; 10-08-2019 at 01:34 AM.

    3. #3
      What's wrong with my car?
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      I took the car to Walmart tire center on Monday morning, they told me that my rear tires were cupped extremely badly on the inside shoulder walls of the tread (Which would explain the "thrumping" sounds I'm hearing out of the back)

      They said it was due to what they believed (without actually looking) that my rear shocks were bad. I was told by another tire shop that my shocks and struts looked fairly new. I got the car back home, and looked closely at the rear of my car, and it seems to me that the rear tires have quite a bit of negative camber to them, and that they are riding primarily on the inside shoulders of the tires. I am going to order new tires this Friday, and when they come in, I will take it to the local tire/alignment shop, have them install the new tires, so that they can see what is going on with the old ones, and do an alignment, which should include camber adjustment on the rears, correct?

      I've had no trouble with ride quality out of any part of the car, and I believe that as long as the rear shocks aren't rusted out, or weeping that they should be ok. I did a jounce test on the back of the car, and that seems fine.

      As for the car having been in a previous accident, I have no idea, as I bought it used from a dealership, but the vehicle history report says no accidents reported...I did look under the front of the car at one point, and noticed that the subframe rails look good and straight, and no signs of accident damage.

      In all actuality, the car only seems to pull to the right, and the pulls to the left are just me slightly over correcting it.

      The car has the standard 185/60R14 radials on it, but with all of this going on, I did notice that the rear tires are a completely different brand than the fronts, so obviously the previous owner had issues with the rear tires going bad, and opted for the 2 tire solution, was probably told the shocks were bad, and was talked into new ones at some point without ever getting alignment, or camber checked.

      Speaking of camber, I have seen online that they have "camber shims" for sale. They are round, sun shaped plates. Do I need to get some of these before getting the camber checked?

      Thanks for the help with this, OG-Lou.

    4. #4
      Should I keep it?
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      Hoosier, I am glad you know what camber is (Knock kneed or bow legged) and if the tires are wearing on the inside tread ribs, then the car has negative camber (knock kneed) the rear suspension frame could be bent. Negative camber allows a car to go around a curve faster but wears tires on the inside ribs. Positive camber usually causes the rear end to roll to the side and if it is very positive it can cause the car to have a lot of body roll or even flip over. I am talking about a lot of positive camber (bow legged).

      Shocks and struts (non gas pressurized) are mainly to dampen up and down oscillation.

      Way too many shock absorbers are condemned as bad because of age, a very small oil leak or the rubber bottoming bumpers are shiny. If too much oil leaks out, then yes the shock's ability to dampen oscillations decreases. Most of the work a shock does is on its extension stroke, not its compression stroke so when you push a car down, there isn't all that much resistance. If the car rises fast, then the shock isn't doing its job. A few gas filled shocks might lift a car a little. Air shocks (50 to 100 PSI) do lift a car.

      The cupped tires on the rear might be because of a serious wheel balance problem and I have seen some cars with wheel balance issues and seriously defective rear shocks. I followed one car where the tires(wheel balance issues) almost hopped off of the road and the AND the back end of the car rose and fell like a bucking bull. That is rare.

      OK, Aveo wheels bend easy. I have some extra wheels from a 1984 dodge Caravan 4 cylinder, 4 lug bolt pattern. My steel 14" Aveo wheels weigh 18 pounds. My 84 Caravan wheels weigh 23 pounds each. The junk yard where I bought my extra wheels had 4 or 5 wrecked Aveos and ALL of the wheels were bent on the Aveos and there were no bent 4 hole Caravan wheels that were bent.

      About Camber shims, don't buy any ahead of time First the alignment shop has to measure how far the camber is out of specifications. Then they order the shims that will get your car's rear axle back into specifications. If the car's rear alignment initial specification is so bad the shims won't fis it, then the rear suspension frame needs to be replaced.

      Point #2 is the rear tires also have toe-in/toe-out or neutral/no toe specification. The preliminary alignment check will determine how much camber each side of the rear axle needs and the slight rotation of the shim should also correct any toe variation from factory specifications.

      If any wheels are bent, they need to be replaced before any alignment work. A good alignment technician checks wheel wobble first before he does anything. All wheels have a little run-out and a good alignment mechanic does a Run-out adjustment because attaching the alignment gauges to the wheels is not a precision process. Each time an alignment gauge is attached to a wheel it is off just a little even with perfect wheels. This step is called "compensation for run out" and is done every time a gauge is attached to a wheel. If the compensation for run out isn't done properly and every time the alignment work is worthless. On newer alignment equipment the "compensation for run out"is easy to do but varies by equipment. It wasn't hard on the equipment I used in 1962 but it was a vital step and if not done resulted in tire wear.

      As for the pulling, I would have to inspect things so i won't say too much other than rotate the tires right and left to see if the puling seems to follow a tire position.

      Different front suspension designs call for different testing procedures to find lose or binding parts so for now i will pass on that topic.





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