The most common reason behind car wobbles at 20 mph are tire issues, damaged suspension, loose tire rods, bad ball joints, faulty wheel bearings, damaged CV axle shafts, and a bent drive shaft.
Keep reading this article to find out more about these issues in detail and learn how you can fix each of these issues. Let’s dive in!
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Why Car Wobbles At 20 MPH [Reasons + Solutions]
We’ll discuss what causes speed wobbles in a car in this section. Here are the major reasons that cause your car to shake and wobble:
1. Tire Issues
If your car wobbles when driving, the most common reason behind it is tire issues. The wobbling issue can be caused by the fact that either cupping of the tires or the tires becoming unbalanced. Here’s how you can check your tire for cupping:
Run your hands along with the tire and see if you can feel any unevenness. Your tire has cupping if it feels like small waves. There’ll be uneven wear between the treads when you have a cupping issue.
Before doing that, make sure there aren’t any steel cords hanging from the tire that can injure you. You can also feel the flat spots on the tire with your hand. Sometimes, the tires will be so worn-out that you can diagnose them just by looking at them.
Another tire issue that can cause your car to wobble is when they’re unbalanced. When the tires are out of balance, it becomes more noticeable by driving at higher speeds. If your car wobbles at 55 mph and it becomes more noticeable, unbalanced tires could be the culprit behind it.
Tire issues are the easiest to diagnose and cheapest to fix if you have a car wobbling issue. If the tires are unbalanced, you can rebalance them and fix your issue.
But if the tires have cupping or gone through severe wear and tear, it’s a good idea to replace the tires to stop the wobbling of your car. Make sure the tires are properly inflated and balanced when you replace them.
2. Damaged Suspension
A faulty suspension can also cause the car to wobble. It’s normal to get a bit of a wobble in your steering wheel if you’re driving on an uneven road. But if it persists and your car wobbles at 10 mph or higher, it could be due to a loose transmission or leaking shocks or struts.
If your car wobbles when hitting bumps, that’s also a good sign of loose or worn-out transmission. To test if the shocks and struts are fine, you can press down on the corners of the vehicle and see if they’re bouncing too much.
Be on the lookout for these signs to tell if your shocks and struts are bad:
- Your car bounces more than once after hitting a bump.
- The front of the car nosedives when you hit the brakes hard.
- Oil will leak out of the shocks and struts.
If the problem is being caused by damaged shocks and struts, you can replace them and get your car running fine. But in some cases, the entire suspension can get worn out with time and you’ll need to replace it.
3. Loose Tire Rods
Problems with both the inner and outer tire rods can cause your car to wobble. If your car wobbles when accelerating, it could be due to the tire rods getting loose. The vibrations intensify if you drive at higher speeds.
Apart from your car wobbling, here are some common symptoms that you can observe when the tire rods become loose:
- The steering wheel will feel loose.
- A clunky feeling in your steering wheel.
- You’ll hear a squeaking noise when turning your car.
If you take your car to a mechanic, he can lift the car up and check if you really have loose tire rods and confirm your hypothesis. If the tire rods are causing the problem, replace them to stop the wobbling of your car.
4. Bad Ball Joints
The ball joints in your vehicle are mounted on the control arms to make sure that they rotate up and down in a smooth manner. But when the ball joints get bad and become loose, they can cause your car to wobble.
Loose ball joints are also accompanied by a clunking noise coming from your car. The noise will continue to become louder as they’ll undergo more wear and tear with time.
Here are some other symptoms of loose ball joints:
- The steering and suspension make unexpected movements when driving.
- Steering knuckles move freely from the control arm.
- The ball joints are leaking grease.
You need to replace the ball joints if they’re causing the problem. Ball joints don’t come as a single unit in most cases and it’s a good idea to replace the entire control arm if you have loose ball joints.
5. Faulty Wheel Bearings
The next thing to check if your car wobbles at 25 mph are the wheel bearings. Your car will wobble when you accelerate or take turns if the wheel bearings in your car are damaged. You’ll also hear a scraping noise when driving if the wheel bearings in your car become loose.
Replace the wheel bearings in your car if the ones you have become loose and cause your engine to wobble. It takes expertise to work on these parts. So, it’s a good idea to take your car to a mechanic to replace the wheel bearings rather than doing it yourself.
6. Damaged CV Axle Shafts
The CV Axle shafts in your car flow the power from the car’s transmission to the wheels. But if it gets bad, you’ll feel an excessive wobbling of your car. Oftentimes, your car will act extra bouncy when the axle shafts are damaged.
If your car wobbles at 35 mph or higher, chances are that you have damaged CV axle shafts. Here are some common symptoms you can use to identify if you have bad CV axle shafts:
- Overflow of grease around the wheel knuckles or axle.
- Clicking noise when you’re driving.
- Shaking steering wheel.
Replace the damaged axle shafts to stop your car from wobbling. It’ll cost anywhere between $60 and $150 to buy the CV axle shafts depending on your vehicle. If you hire a mechanic to do it, you can expect to pay $150 to $400 as labor charges.
7. Bent Drive Shaft
If your car wobbles at 90 mph or lower, it could be due to a bent drive shaft. For cars with rear-wheel drive, the drive shaft delivers the power from the engine to the wheels. Your car will be able at low speeds and wobble even higher when the drive shaft is bent.
You can tell if the driveshaft has become bad if the center support bearing becomes off-center and it rotates in an abnormal manner. The U-joints at the two ends on the driveshaft will go back and forth when it’s damaged.
It’s not easy to do repair work on any drive shaft. So, you need to replace the drive shaft of your vehicle if it’s causing the car wobbling issue.
Why Does The Steering Wheel Wobble When Braking?
If you notice your car wobbling when you hit the brakes, here are the potential causes behind it:
1. Faulty Brake Rotors
If you notice excessive shaking from your steering wheel, it indicates that the brake rotors in your vehicle became warped or worn out. Another sign of a faulty brake pad is that your steering wheel will start to shake as soon as you hit the brakes.
You can try to resurface the brake rotors to fix the problem. But you need to replace the brake rotors if it doesn’t work.
2. Uneven Brake Pads
If you’ve checked out the rotors and they are fine, the next thing to look at is the brake pads. If the brake pads are uneven, it’ll cause the steering wheel to wobble.
Realign the brake pads and see if that solves your problem. Otherwise, replace the brake pads.
3. Stuck Brake Calipers
Brake calipers can cause the steering wheel to wobble, especially, if you’re driving over 50 mph. This problem is more common for older cars than for newer ones.
If the brake calipers are stuck, they can be often accompanied by a burning smell. It’s not good to drive in this condition and you should replace them before you drive your car again.
Can I drive with unbalanced tires?
Unbalanced tires aren’t an immediate issue that you need to fix. You can drive for about two or three months with unbalanced tires before it gets dangerous and leads to a serious problem.
Can bad struts cause wobbling?
Struts are meant to absorb the impact from bumpy roads and soften the blow. When they have gone bad, it can cause the car to wobble.
Why does my car jerk when I accelerate?
One of the most common reasons that cause the car to jerk when you accelerate is bad fuel injectors. It can also happen because of worn-out spark plugs or a clogged air filter.
Is it safe to drive with a shaking steering wheel?
The steering wheel shaking is normally caused by simple issues and that’s why you can drive with a shaking steering wheel for a while. But you should get it checked by a mechanic ASAP.
It’s frustrating to be driving and find out that your car wobbles at 20 mph. But now you know what are the potential reasons behind this problem and how you can fix these issues.
Follow this guide carefully to find out the exact issue that’s causing the car wobbling issue in your vehicle and fix it. Drop a comment below if you have any questions about car wobbling problems.