Are My Tires Causing the Car to Vibrate?


wear out the tread and cause steering problems. That’s why it’s important to check your tire pressure regularly.

Fortunately, checking tire pressure only requires two tools — a tire pressure gauge and an air compressor. Most gas stations have an air compressor so you only need to own one tool. The whole process is relatively quick, too. In a matter of minutes you’ve done a lot to ensure a safe and smooth ride.

Before you begin, make sure the car has been parked for three to four hours so you get an accurate reading from the gauge. If you drive to a gas station to use an air compressor, try to find one less than a mile away.

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a view of a car: Driving on improperly-inflated tires can wear out the tread and cause steering problems. That's why it's important to check your tire pressure regularly. Fortunately, checking tire pressure only requires two tools — a tire pressure gauge and an air compressor. Most gas stations have an air compressor so you only need to own one tool. The whole process is relatively quick, too. In a matter of minutes you've done a lot to ensure a safe and smooth ride. Before you begin, make sure the car has been parked for three to four hours so you get an accurate reading from the gauge. If you drive to a gas station to use an air compressor, try to find one less than a mile away.

© Provided by The Family Handyman

Driving on improperly-inflated tires can wear out the tread and cause steering problems. That’s why it’s important to check your tire pressure regularly.

Fortunately, checking tire pressure only requires two tools — a tire pressure gauge and an air compressor. Most gas stations have an air compressor so you only need to own one tool. The whole process is relatively quick, too. In a matter of minutes you’ve done a lot to ensure a safe and smooth ride.

Before you begin, make sure the car has been parked for three to four hours so you get an accurate reading from the gauge. If you drive to a gas station to use an air compressor, try to find one less than a mile away.


The Most Common Causes of Tire Vibration

Modern vehicles are designed to drive smoothly, even on not-so-perfect road surfaces. Although some mild vibrations when driving can be normal, significant vibrations indicate something is wrong.

Vehicles have so many spinning and moving parts that all kinds of things can cause vibrations. Those vibrations resonate through the car, causing it to shake. Fortunately, tires or wheels are the most likely cause of vibrations, and those are easily repaired or replaced by your repair shop.

Over- or Under-Inflated Tires

Over-inflated tires act like a bouncing ball. Sidewall stiffness and tread rigidity may trigger vibrations, providing less tire-to-road contact area and causing the tread to quickly wear in the center. Tires affected this way are prone to damage and blowouts.

Under-inflated tires quickly overheat and wear abnormally at the outer edges, leading to low and high-speed vibrations. In addition, rolling resistance greatly increases (think about pedaling a bicycle with a flat tire). That causes tire temperatures to rise significantly, to the point the tire tread separates from the tire body. A blowout often follows.

Note: Temperature has a dramatic effect on tire pressure. Tires heat up and expand under normal driving conditions. Extended, excessive or aggressive stop-and-go driving, especially on ridiculously hot days, greatly increases air pressure in an already over-inflated tire, while greatly increasing the temperature of an already under-inflated tire — the perfect conditions for a blowout.

Proper tire inflation is critical not only for driving safety, but also to increase the life of your tires and improve fuel economy. Checking tire pressure needs to be part of your monthly DIY car maintenance routine.

Family HandymanInflate Car Tires ProperlyKeeping your car tires properly inflated is a task you should overlook. Tires are one of those expensive items you have to pay for with your car but you can stretch your dollars with a few tips. Make your tires last with these tips. You can make checking your tires easier by learning how to use a digital tire gauge to check your inflation levels.

Overinflated Tire Problems

Although overinflated tires may give you slightly higher gas mileage, they can cause much more serious problems than they solve. Overinflated tires carry the entire weight of the car on the middle portion of the tread.

Underinflated Tire Problems

The center tread puckers toward the rim because there’s not enough pressure to keep it in contact with the road. So the full weight of the car rides on the edges. In addition to premature wear, low tire pressure causes excessive heat and possible blowouts.

Worn Down Tires

Examine your tires for abnormal wear and check that they are properly inflated. Tires that are bald, badly worn or worn unevenly are a likely source of low and/or high-speed vibrations. They also negatively impact braking, steering responsiveness and control.

Inspect the sidewalls for dry-rot cracking, bubbles or bulges (usually caused by a broken tire belt), and the tread area for flat spots or tread separation. A tire with a broken belt will produce a rhythmic thumping sound and a low speed vibration and/or wobble. Never drive on a tire that has a bulge, tread separating from the tire body, exposed metal or fiber cords, or has separated from the wheel. Water can enter the gap between the tire and wheel, causing all kinds of vibrations after being filled with air and driven.

Flat spots are caused by extreme braking or the vehicle being parked for days, especially if the tires are under-inflated. Tires with flat spots make a thumping sound and vibrate when the flat spot meets the road. Flat-spotting is usually temporary, rounding out while driving as the tire warms up. However, in the worse cases the flat spot is permanent and it’s time for new tires.

Remember, to prevent tires from wearing unevenly, it’s critical to rotate your vehicle’s tires at the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals. They’ll last longer if you do.

Wheels

A bent, cracked or damaged wheel can cause your vehicle to vibrate. This is more common than you might think. Hitting a pothole, bouncing into a curb or getting walloped in an accident can damage a wheel.

Customarily, wheel balancing will negate minor wheel issues. However, if a wheel is the suspected cause of a vibration, your mechanic will need to measure wheel run-out (roundness) and check for other deformities. Severely bent or out-of-round wheels will need to be repaired (if possible, by a highly specialized wheel repair service) or replaced. Wheel diagnostics and repairs are something definitely left to the pros.

Wheel Balancing

Out-of-balance tires and wheels vibrate up and down or side to side at specific speeds. Having your tires and wheels professionally balanced (approximately $50 to $100) almost always fixes this problem.

As a tire’s tread wears down, the tire become lighter and needs to be rebalanced. Balancing involves adding weights to the edges of the wheel to eliminate tire vibrations. Although rare, if you detect a slight vibration and notice a one- to three-inch rectangular discoloration or stain on the wheel, a wheel weight may have fallen off and the tire will need to be rebalanced.

Wheel Alignment / Abnormal Tire Wear

Abnormal tire wear (cupping, scalloping, feathering) from an out-of-alignment or damaged suspension system will cause tires to be noisy and vibrate. Your repair shop should check for worn or bent suspension parts as part of a wheel alignment or when diagnosing abnormal tire wear.

Your driving safety depends on performing basic tire maintenance. Pick up a tread depth gauge and air pressure gauge online or at your local auto parts store and use them regularly. Replace any tire that has tread measuring 4/32-in. or less. Tires inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure, visual inspections, tire rotations and wheel balancing can extend the life of your tires while also preventing annoying vibrations.

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