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Wobbling wheels can be caused by a variety of factors, from kerb strikes to unbalanced tyres. Torque's resident mechanical engineer addresses this issue.

Category: Car Technical Advice

Wobbling wheels are bad signs on any car. If the wobble can be felt through the steering wheel and you're having trouble keeping your car pointed straight, the issue is even more serious. Your car must be sent to a workshop to be fixed, pronto.

Wobbling wheels aren't just caused by misaligned suspension, though. Here are several other reasons that can cause this to occur.

A kerb strike

The impact from striking a kerb is a common cause for wheel wobbles
Mounting or striking a kerb can cause serious damage to your wheels and suspension, especially if you hit it hard enough.

In Singapore, kerbs are between 125mm and 150mm tall, of which 25mm to 50mm is vertical and the rest angled towards the pavement at about 70 degrees.

It is not uncommon to incur scratches on the wheels should you misjudge a kerb when parking.

At higher speeds, more damage can be sustained. Once a rim is bent or warped, the wheel will wobble, sending vibrations up to the steering wheel.

You will be lucky if a replacement rim rectifies the problem. Often, the damage is actually to the suspension.
Misaligned suspension

In some cases, all your car needs is a wheel alignment service
When your car's wheel alignment is off, you end up struggling with the steering wheel to keep the car on a straight course.

In minor cases, you will notice that you keep your steering wheel slightly turned left or right to keep the car going straight.

Fortunately, this can be easily and quickly fixed at a workshop with the necessary equipment.
Damaged suspension

Damage to suspension components is harder to address. Depending on the type of front suspension, some or all the suspension arms could be bent or mountings could be damaged.

With MacPherson-type suspensions, the entire strut and damper assembly must be replaced. You should also have your vehicle undergo a thorough inspection of front wheels and for suspension support.
Unbalanced wheels

Weights are attached to the wheel to even out the weight - to balance a wheel
Unbalanced wheels are also one of the main causes of wobbling wheels.

Whenever you change your tyres, the tyre shop will also perform wheel balancing, which ensures that the tyre rolls smoothly and doesn't wobble at high speeds.

Small weights are attached to the wheel to even out the weight of the entire assembly. If you haven't hit a kerb or pothole and your wheels are warped, unbalanced wheels are probably causing the wobble.
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Torque The article first appeared in the October 2020 issue of Torque. Log on to their website to subscribe.

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