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Heavy front end vibration at high speeds

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Old 06 Jul 2015, 01:16 pm
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Default Heavy front end vibration at high speeds

Hi everyone,

I'm having issues similar to Severe Front End Vibration (this thread). It's on a 2002 PT Cruiser with 95,570 miles on it. Here are my specific symptoms.

1. When I'm traveling at speeds above 65 to 70 (interstate driving), I don't feel anything until I either a) let off the gas, b) apply the brakes, or c) have the cruise control on. Below those speeds, I don't notice anything.

2. When I do feel it, it varies from a slight vibration that I can hear, to the steering wheel shaking like it's trying to pull out of the column. I don't notice any type of pull, or any other issues with the steering or driving.

3. Last year, I *supposedly* had the shocks, struts, bushings, brakes, and rack and pinion replaced in the car. (I say supposedly, because I take it to a different shop now and at my last oil change they recommended the struts be replaced because the mechanic thought they were the original ones). I did have new tires put on also. I've had issues since then with both of the tires on the left side holding air (slow leaks), but I don't think it's related (plus I had the air replaced with nitrogen and they're holding up fine).

4. I've noticed this for a few weeks now, but normally I don't travel at speeds higher than 55 to 60. But this past week, I took a trip and it was horrible.

5. Occasionally last night (on the trip home), if I was traveling at slow speeds, I noticed a clunk when I turned right. It sounded almost like a nut or something dropping off. I only heard it probably four times in a six hour drive, and the speeds were all below 25 mph.

6. About four months ago, someone backed into the front of the car at low speeds (they were parallel parking, and backed into it). It was enough to move the car back a little bit, but there was no obvious damage. At my next oil change, I had the mechanic look underneath for damage (which is why he was looking at the shocks and struts, etc). He didn't see anything at the time either. And no one who drove the car between then and a few weeks ago ever mentioned this vibration at high speeds (and I'm positive that everyone who drove it went above 60 mph at some point in time).

My plan is to go to all of the places that I've had work on the car, and get printouts of what they did (and when). I do need this information anyhow, because I purchased an extended warranty from a third-party company, and they require it. But my true motive is to have documented proof that the one place replaced the struts and bushings. Then I'll have the place that I'm currently taking it to check everything (they're a tire store mainly, but do other services).

So I have some questions about what you might think is wrong, and what you think I should do about it.

Assuming that everyone did what they claimed (so the shocks, struts, bushings, brakes, rack and pinion, and tires are about 17 months old), what would possibly be causing this? When I had the struts replaced, he heard a slight noise on the right side but couldn't find the cause. So it might be that getting worse too.

Again, assuming that everything was done as claimed, should I take it back to the place that did the struts, or take it to the place I'm going to now? The place that did the struts is part of a chain store (NOT Walmart, thank God), where the place I go to now is an actual Goodyear service center.

Could the tires just need to be rotated, or would that produce different symptoms? I've probably put about 7,000 or more on the tires in the past 17 months.

Now assuming that they didn't do the work that they claimed, what are my options? On the one hand, I should take it back and make them honor the work they claimed to do. But on the other hand, I don't trust them enough to do the work. And I really can't afford to dump another $700+ into having the work actually done.

When I get the paperwork back, I'll post exactly what they claimed to have done. That way it should eliminate some of the things you might suggest (wheel bearings and bushings, and such).

Finally could the other driver have caused something that took three to four months to get to the point where I'm noticing this now?

Thanks for any suggestions and advice you can give me.

Have a great day.
2002 Limited Stone White with gray bumpers. 83,000 + Miles on it, and happy as ever.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 06 Jul 2015, 02:01 pm
Handy_Cruiser's Avatar
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 10,666
Default Re: Heavy front end vibration at high speeds

To me it sounds like a bad CV shaft. When you slow down, the engine will often help slow the car to some degree even with an automatic. This reverses the strain on the drive train and reverses the load on the CV shafts. A bad one will sometimes vibrate under these conditions. Also, the clunk during the right turn is also a likely symptom of this.

There's some very good YouTube videos on how to tell if your CV joints are bad.
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Old 06 Jul 2015, 03:44 pm
Cool Cruiser
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 268
Default Re: Heavy front end vibration at high speeds

bad or warped rotors for me...can also be your tires need replacement.alignment or balancing.
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Old 06 Jul 2015, 04:03 pm
whiteclaw's Avatar
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Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 422
Default Re: Heavy front end vibration at high speeds

Wheel alignment I would say. Usually severe vibration from 70mph and up with steering wheel shaking.

Doesn't usually cost much to do or to even have it checked up on a stand. Many places here check it for free.
Chrysler PT Cruiser 2001, Automatic, No Mods, Right hand drive. 2.0

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Old 07 Jul 2015, 10:45 am
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Default Re: Heavy front end vibration at high speeds

I recommend that you take you PT Cruiser to a shop specializing in suspension or advertises doing alignments. These type of shops are experienced with the complete chassis.

The clues in the first post do not indicate a single problem such as ,

Bad CV Axle(s)
Brake Rotor damage
Alignment needing correction

But a combination of many things could contribute to the overall drivability that you are only sensitive in some of your usual driving attention. It may only be a conscience that you notice the accumulative worst now.
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Last edited by NitroPT; 07 Jul 2015 at 10:48 am.
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Old 07 Jul 2015, 09:00 pm
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Default Re: Heavy front end vibration at high speeds

I would look at the tie rods. You have inner and outers. I Have had these have this kind of vibration at speeds. Also by braking your changing the angle of the tire in relation to the other if this is your issues. Ball joint could be bad as well.

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front end vibration, high speeds

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