Tips for Troubleshooting Vehicle Wheel Issues

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When you're driving your truck or car and notice that it pulls, shakes, skids, or otherwise makes it difficult to control your vehicle, the problem is typically with the wheels or potentially the steering column. Note a few tips for troubleshooting these problems so you can know what you might face by way of repair bills.

Shakes or vibrates at all speeds, but especially when accelerating

When the vehicle shakes and vibrates at all speeds, and especially when this shaking becomes even more noticeable as you accelerate, usually this means there is a balance issue with the tires. Tires may not weigh exactly the same, as one may have slightly less tread than another or the rim of one tire may be worn just slightly. This very small difference in weights can cause them to become imbalanced so that one tire will shake and vibrate as it tries to keep up with the others. A mechanic will add weight to one tire that is undersized or unbalanced, and this should correct any shaking.

Pulling or drifting

Tires that are not properly aligned will pull to one side, as the tie rods and other parts that control alignment may be directed to that side more prominently. However, this can also be caused by a bent rim of one tire, and the vehicle will pull in the direction of the bend. Worn tread or slipping brake pads can also cause a tire to pull in one direction, or to drift over the road when you hit the brakes.

When the vehicle wanders

Wandering refers to the vehicle pulling to either the left or the right, so that you must always correct the direction of the steering. This is usually a sign of worn steering components and not a problem with the wheels or tires. The steering fluid may be low and the gears and other parts of the steering are not being properly lubricated so they cannot move freely, and the car pulls in one direction or another.

Vibration from just one wheel

Usually vibration from just one wheel means that it has a missing or loose lug nut, and the rim is not holding the tire very firmly. In turn, it vibrates and shakes as you drive; this might be even more noticeable when you hit a bump.  A bent rim can also cause vibration from one tire, or the bearings of that tire may be worn and not allowing the tire to rotate freely and in a straight direction, causing it to vibrate.