Why Does My Car's Steering Wheel Wobble?

Why Does My Car's Steering Wheel Wobble?

21st Jan 2019

Does your car's steering wheel wobble? Some level of play is normal, especially when driving on bumpy or otherwise uneven roads. But if you discover your car's steering wheel wobbling more than 1 inch to the left and right sides, there's usually an underlying problem to blame. The first step to fixing this handling issue is to find out what's causing your car's steering wheel to wobble.

Cupped Tires

Take a few minutes to visually inspect your car's tires for signs of cupping. Cupping is characterized by uneven tread wear that results in bald spots on the tire. Even if the exterior and inner sections of your tires have plenty of tread, the interior of your tires may be bald. If this happens, it may cause your car's steering wheel to wobble, especially at low speeds.

Wheels Aren't Balanced

If it's been a while since you've had your wheels balanced, consider booking appointment for this maintenance procedure. Most experts recommend drivers have their wheels balanced about once every 5,000 to 8,000 miles or six months, whichever comes first. If your wheels are out of balance, some will remain lower than others, which can naturally cause your steering wheel to wobble.

Underinflated Tires

Driving on underinflated tires may also cause your car's steering wheel to wobble. This is particularly true if only one or few of your car's tires are underinflated, while the rest are properly inflated. You can check to see how much air your tires need by looking inside your driver-side door jamb. Most cars, trucks and other vehicles have a sticker on the door jamb that details the manufacturer's recommended tire size and air pressure.

Warped Brake Rotors

If your car's steering wheel only wobbles when you press the brake pedal, you could have warped brake rotors. Rotors, of course, are designed to rotate against the tire when you press the brake pedal. This friction creates heat, however, that can deform the shape of the rotors. There's no easy to way to repair warped brake rotors, but they are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace.

Worn Tie Rods

Finally, worn tie rods may cause your car's steering wheel to wobble. Found on each end of the steering rack, they are designed to push and pull your car's tires in the direction in which you steer. But like all automotive components, tie rods can wear down over time, manifesting as a wobbling or "wandering" steering wheel.