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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys, I've searched for a while and really can't pinpoint exactly what I'm looking for. So here it goes...

When I'm driving between 60 and 75 mph the steering wheel will vibrate (not violently) for about 3 or 4 seconds then fade off for about 5 seconds then again fades back into a vibration for another 3 to 4 seconds and once again fading out for 5 seconds and so on and so on. It is consistant and will change with speed, but not very dramatically.

My first guess was a bent front wheel. But if it were a bent wheel wouldn't it constantly be shaking the steering wheel?

Second guess was a bad front tire (bulge, manufacturer defect), but once again, wouldn't it be constant and not fading in and out.

Finally I thought maybe I needed to replace my front rotors. The pads are about 50% and when I brake, the pedal doesn't shutter or pulsate like it would if they were warped.

So if I could get some kind of direction on why my steering wheel is going crazy... all suggestions are welcome. Thanks.
 

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The front wheels could be out of balance or one of them may have thrown a weight...it could also be an inflation issue. If none of that fixes it, I'd guess you have an alignment issue.
 

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I agree that wheel balance is the most obvious culpret. That said, most cars have a "harmonic" point where vibrations occur. This was explained to me by a friend who was a chassis engineer at the GM tech center in Michigan. It's a cumulation of several factors including but not limited to tire balance, wheel bearing play, steering rack tolerances (and other steering components), engine mounts, car body and frame stiffness. There's little you can do about this.

If a good wheel balance doesn't work, sometimes playing with something as simple as tire pressure solve the problem (doesn't relly solve it, it just changes the harmonics and moves the vibration higher or lower in the speed range). I had the problem in an older car. The vibration happened at exactly 70 mph which was a pain for highway driving. By playing with the tire pressures I was able to move the vibration down to 65 to 67 mph which really helped.
 

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I'm with Geezer on this. It isn't your brakes or your steering, it's the tires/wheels. Now, to determine what the cause really is, what have you done to the car before this started?
 

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I agree on tires and wheels I had the same prob at 65mph and when i bought new tires it went away.The factory stock tires are crap
 

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mine has always done this but at higher speeds, starting at 75. it only does it when i'm at steady speed and not accelerating. its not a tire problem for me since i've gone through a few sets and all the same thing. my vote is for alignment
 

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Discussion Starter #7
GaryS said:
I'm with Geezer on this. It isn't your brakes or your steering, it's the tires/wheels. Now, to determine what the cause really is, what have you done to the car before this started?
Not a damn thing. Its been doing it since I bought it back in April. I guess I'm really starting to take notice to it because I have been doing about 50% more highway driving now. When I'm driving a two-lane highway between 45-60 and making turns I really don't pay much attention to it. Now since I'm cruising around 70 its really annoying.

awnuts said:
I agree on tires and wheels I had the same prob at 65mph and when i bought new tires it went away.The factory stock tires are crap
I was leaning mostly towards tires. The first time I picked up the car when I bought it the front left tire was flat. So the dealer thought they would be tricky by replacing the tire but put it on the back right. Well, since I am not blind or dumb I noticed immediately. The problem is that the tires on the car are Fuzion HRi's. The tire they used to replace the flat is a Kumho Ecsta. (Which was new when I bought it and needs to be replaced with only 10,000 miles since I bought it, even with a tire rotation. The other 3 Fuzion's have between 35-65% wear.) Since I have rotated the tires and the problem consists (Kumho is in the front now) its something other than tires?

I plan on buying 2 more Fuzion HRi's and throwing them on the front tires. I'll check my tire pressure and see if any weights have managed to vanish. When I get the front tires mounted and balanced I'll have the tech check all my wheels to make sure they are balanced.

On the weight subject, I have the 5 spoke SVT wheels and they have the weights that stick on the inside, not the large, loaf of bread weights that go on the outside. How often do those stick on's become not so sticky? I have occasional dirt road travel and they aren't the smoothest roads I've driven on.

I appreciate the quick responses, thanks guys.
 

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Out of curiosity, when was the last time you torqued your lugnuts to spec? If you haven't, you could have a loose lug nut or two which could cause vibration. The Focus uses hub-centric wheels, which requires the lugs to be precisely torqued at 90 ft.-lbs. If you don't have a torque wrench you should invest in one.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
SkaAddict said:
Out of curiosity, when was the last time you torqued your lugnuts to spec? If you haven't, you could have a loose lug nut or two which could cause vibration. The Focus uses hub-centric wheels, which requires the lugs to be precisely torqued at 90 ft.-lbs. If you don't have a torque wrench you should invest in one.
Had them off about 2 months ago and torqued to 90 ft/lbs. About the torque wrench... one of the best investments I've ever made. Paid itself off a long time ago.[thumb]
 

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Your wheels could be in balance under no load, but due to non-uniform flexing in sidewall, becomes unbalanced under force.

If a simple balancing doesn't fix it, get them road-force balanced. $30/wheel or so. Available at Discount Tire and a few other places. Be prepared to get told "wtf is roadforce balance" if you get a n00b on the phone.
 

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Did anyone find a solution? I haven't even broken in my 07 Focus and have this issue. Over the weekend a had the tires balanced (cheap local shop) and even rotated backs to front. Also varied the air pressure 10psi which helps a tiny bit at a lower pressure. Same issue - 60 to 70mph it will vibrate for about .2 of a mile every 1 mile. Everything is stock. I'll see about getting into the shop in the morning. I've got the OEM Hankook Optimo tires and have never known anyone to run these so I'm not familiar with the quality other than prior Ford OEM tires. [xx(]
 

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yea, its either your tires or your wheels, go get them checked and have a high speed balance test done on them. Also when you take it to get taht done they will see if its another problem, meaning your wheels are bent, theyll be able too see it when its spinning.
 

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Well, they balanced all four tires but didn't test drive. I returned within 2 miles with the same issue and told them the story so the head mechanic went on a drive with me. He saw the wheel and we discussed what I'd tried.

They put it on a rack where the tires are on rollers and got it up to 65mph. Everything was tight underneath and the only thing shaking was the steering wheel. The tires had been road forced balanced and indexed without helping. Still thinking it was the tires, they started rotating one at a time with the result being I had two bad tires - one on each axle so front-to-back rotations masked the usual one tire problem.

Their story - OEM tires don't sit around in inventory for months after they are produced so they don't cure like tire inventories at tire stores. Ford requires dealerships to rotate their car inventory so the tires don't develop flat spots sitting on the lot. If a tire goes bad due to this condition, the dealership gets hit with the cost. So that is what they claim caused the two bad tires though the car's production date was less than 2 months old. The new tires will be delivered/installed in the morning. Meanwhile I get to drive a Caliber for free. I even brought up some horror stories I'd read about dealerships writing off the problem as "normal" due to a harmonic balance issue. He said they've seen those but they don't consider any vibration as not being fixable and written off by the dealership. They maintain highway patrol cars and those get brought in due to vibrations at 120mph and must be fixed due to safety reasons. Fixing a normal car with vibrations at 65mph is simple compared to chase vehicles.
 

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After going through two sets of the Hankook OEM tires and still having the issue, it's the brand of tire. The non-OEM replacements worked fine. The issue isn't related to the tires sitting, it's the tire design. They showed me the sidewall on the unmounted tires. The OEMs are real soft and flexible. Maybe that helps the ride but it causes distortion at higher speeds.
 

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I had the same problem on mine. Steering wheel shaked but only at highway speeds. The car needed an alignment bad. Drove it like that for a while and my tires where worn out on the inside. Bought new HRi's, had them properly balanced and had car aligned. Completely solved my problem. But if you hit some bump or pothole hard, car may pop out of alignment.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
UPDATE
Hey guys. Just wanted to update everyone.

Vibration Problems
First Try: New Tires
I purchased some Fuzion HRi's, had them mounted and balanced and continued to have the problem but with a little different end result. It would vibrate the steering wheel constantly. Come to find out I had a bent wheel.

Second Try: New Wheel
Purchased a new SVT wheel off EBay had the new Fuzion mounted and balanced. All vibrations are gone. New problem, left front and left rear of the car were now making noises when I would hit smalls bumps as low speeds. My struts/shocks were in need of replacement.

I need to pick up some new struts and shocks and I'm in the process of finding a good replacement without having to dish out $400 for 4 replacements.

Also one thing that could also be a problem if you are experiencing the same as I did are tires that aren't rotated when suggested. So I guess all in all, crappy tires, a bent wheel, and worn out suspension components all contributed to my steering wheel vibration and uneven tire wear.
 
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