When it comes to autos, there is no such thing as good vibrations. (We aren’t talking about motorbikes here.) If you can feel or hear a vibration, chances are that something’s up. Don’t panic, your favorite auto mechanic always has your back. Let’s take a deeper look into vibrations and what auto repairs are usually associated with them.
We have to decide exactly what sort of vibration it is you are experiencing. Listen carefully and ask yourself the following questions:
1. Does it come from the front or the back of the auto?
2. Does it change sound/frequency with the speed of the engine? (If you blip the throttle, does the vibration change?)
3. Does it only happen at a certain speed?
4. Does it sound metallic?
5. Can you only feel it if you are driving? (Does it come through the steering wheel.)
Now, with those answers fresh in your mind, let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of vibration.
Not only is the position of your tires carefully set using computers, but each wheel is also balanced. No rim (whether steel or alloy) is perfectly round, but often hitting a pothole or a ditch at high speed can distort the rim further. Wheels that are out of balance typically cause a non-metallic sounding vibration that occurs at specific speeds. It can come from anywhere in the car and is felt through the steering as a judder. Fixing the balancing is quite a cheap auto repair. It is done by removing the wheel from the car and putting it on a machine that spins it. A computer calculates how far out of round the rim is. The technician then adds counterweights to ensure it is balanced. It is important to balance all four wheels at one time as it is usually impossible to know if the problem is caused by one or multiple of them. In extreme cases, a rim can be too badly damaged to balance. In that case, it either needs to be straightened or replaced.
Exhaust Pipe Problems
The most obvious sign of an exhaust problem is that the vibration and sound are more metallic and changes with engine speed. An exhaust leak or damaged pipe won’t cause heavy vibration, but a more subtle and annoying one. It is much cheaper to nip this in bud by repairing it sooner rather than later. Leaving it will not only cause damage to progress but could also confuse the vehicle computer and possibly damage the catalytic converter.
Steering and Suspension Problems
Worn suspension bushings and steering control rods will cause a ‘knocking’ vibration that can sometimes be felt intensely through the steering wheel. It may or may not occur at specific speeds. The steering and suspension systems are key to the safety of your vehicle, so if you suspect that this may be at fault (especially common among high mileage heroes) get it fixed quick.
Transmission and Engine Mountings
The engine and transmission of your auto are mounted to the body via rubber mountings. The same way that shoes protect our feet from the ground, so the mounts insulate the car body from the engine and tranny vibration. If a mount is failing, some of that vibration gets transmitted to the car body. It is unlikely that you’ll feel this one through the steering, but more likely through the seat. It will be continuous and change the frequency with engine speed. If the mount is really worn, you may hear a clunk when you come to a sudden stop. These can be costly parts to replace since often the entire engine needs to be removed to access them.
We hope that we’ve helped you diagnose your vibration. If you’re still scratching your head, why not take one of our ASE team for a spin? Our experienced staff will quickly pinpoint the error and have your pride and joy ‘purring like a kitten till the lake pipes roar…’