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  #1  
Old 02-06-2006, 02:49 PM
tsarina tsarina is offline
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Why does my car shimmy between 50-60 MPH?

Just like the title says, my otherwise marvelous 2001 Civic will shimmy from side to side when I hit 50 MPH, only to stop by the time I get up to 60. It does this regardless of the kind of road I'm driving on. Why is this happening? (It's got 52,000 miles on it.)
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  #2  
Old 02-06-2006, 02:55 PM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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Almost certainly it's a tire/wheel balance problem. Having the wheels balanced should fix it.

While loose tie rods/tie rod ends can cause a high-speed shimmy, it doesn't typically go away at higher speeds like a balance problem will, and those parts are unlikely to be worn at that mileage.
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Old 02-06-2006, 02:57 PM
What Exit? What Exit? is offline
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Both times I have had this problem it involved wheel balance.
One time I was lucky and it was just mud stuck in the wheel after rinsing it out the car returned to normal.

Good Luck,
Jim
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  #4  
Old 02-06-2006, 03:58 PM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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It is likely a wheel balance problem as others have said, but it could also be a tread separation problem, which is a little more serious. I would have someone look at it.
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  #5  
Old 02-06-2006, 04:14 PM
D_Odds D_Odds is offline
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Even balanced wheels might have this problem if there is uneven wear on the treads, such as might occur when you need to replace a single tire.
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  #6  
Old 02-06-2006, 10:25 PM
aeropl aeropl is offline
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Look at your tires and make sure the tread isn't cupped or scalloped. This was once the cause of my shimmy on the highway. If they do have scalloped wear, that might be because your tires were out of balance too long or it could bad suspension parts.

Tire Wear Patterns
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  #7  
Old 02-07-2006, 01:12 AM
AskNott AskNott is offline
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When you get a shudder at a specific speed, it's usually wheel balance. One of your front wheels probably threw a weight.
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Old 02-07-2006, 06:33 PM
tsarina tsarina is offline
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Thanks for the replies. I'm leaving Friday to make a thousand-mile round trip - do you guys think it's serious enough that I have to get it fixed before then?
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  #9  
Old 02-07-2006, 06:41 PM
Moirai Moirai is offline
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Yes. Definitely. Now.
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  #10  
Old 02-07-2006, 06:49 PM
What Exit? What Exit? is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsarina
Thanks for the replies. I'm leaving Friday to make a thousand-mile round trip - do you guys think it's serious enough that I have to get it fixed before then?
You really should, especially before a long trip.
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  #11  
Old 02-07-2006, 07:48 PM
wheelie wheelie is offline
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I had a shimmy that went away above 65 mph. Turned out to be the wheel bearings. I put off fixing it and damn near had an accident when the bearings totally failed (luckily it failed right by my apartment and I wasn't going very fast).
Get it checked before your trip.
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  #12  
Old 02-07-2006, 10:10 PM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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You do not want to take a road trip with this condition. It will get lots of opportunity to shimmy other components into poor shape. And if the shimmy gets worse, which is possible, it could cause you to lose control. This is not fun at highway speeds. One way or another, it could cost a lot to put off servicing it.
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  #13  
Old 02-08-2006, 12:02 PM
PlughPlover PlughPlover is offline
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Missing steering damper?

I bought a used 1970 VW bus that had this between about 35 and 45. Shimmied enough to rattle your teeth loose, the whole car. Further inspection revealed that the front end was missing a part, a thing that looked like a shock absorber mounted between one tie rod and the frame, called a "steering damper." Once I bought one and installed it, the problem went away.

I've always wondered if these things are normal procedure, or if this was a kludge made in the design process to fix an inherently unstable system.
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  #14  
Old 02-08-2006, 02:02 PM
Rocketeer Rocketeer is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlughPlover
I bought a used 1970 VW bus that had this between about 35 and 45. Shimmied enough to rattle your teeth loose, the whole car. Further inspection revealed that the front end was missing a part, a thing that looked like a shock absorber mounted between one tie rod and the frame, called a "steering damper." Once I bought one and installed it, the problem went away.

I've always wondered if these things are normal procedure, or if this was a kludge made in the design process to fix an inherently unstable system.
Kludge.
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  #15  
Old 02-08-2006, 09:51 PM
tsarina tsarina is offline
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Thanks to everyone who posted replies. I took my car in today for an inspection and they said my struts are in bad shape, I need my tires rotated and re-balanced, and my alignment re-done (I only had it done two months ago... grr). They said I'll be OK for this weekend, but to bring it in as soon as possible so I can blow over 600 bucks on parts and labor.

Off to check out eBay for cheap Civic struts...
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