Help! Steering wheel shaking at 65-80 mph.

eugene89us

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Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Location
Southern USA
TDI
2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEL Premium
Good morning.

Wanted to ask a question. Have noticed steering wheel started to shake from around 65 mph and gets worse closer to 80 mph. Recently replaced all brakes with the same problem persisting. Thought maybe the original OEM Conti's wearing out - they had 63,000 miles on them, so I had them replaced yesterday. However, the shaking persists. With Michelin tires being much more responsive, shaking also appears to be more pronounced. Rotating tires did not help - thinking maybe bad balance. Jacked up the car - there is absolutely no play in the wheels - both at 9-3 and 12-6 o'clock. Of note, I do hear a little "chaga-chaga" sound at high speeds over 50 mph, but only when I pass by the barriers where sound is more pronounced. I doubt it is brakes, because there is no vibration when braking and the braking is very smooth. Calipers were appropriately lubricated when I did the brake job.

Do you guys have any suggestions as to what to look for? I am completely at loss. Thank you.

Eugene
 

Windex

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05 B5V 01E FRF
Steering wheel vibration or oscillation at speed (without braking) is most often a result of a tire/wheel imbalance, bent wheel, or "egg shaped" tire.

All tires have some out-of-round, the key is how much.

Balancing tires is an art where some volume tire shops do not take as much care to ensure a wobble free balance. I end up getting a new set of tires about every 1.5 years, and specifically ask the tire shop to take extra care and to calibrate the balance prior to mounting my tires. I also like to bring the tire guy coffee in an attempt to ensure his good graces.

That said, luck of the draw sometimes gives you tires with an excessive amount of runout. The only way to check is to mount the tire to the car, jack it up and rotate it while checking the runout with a dial gauge. I have found that anything under 50 thousands of an inch, when properly balanced should give you a wobble free ride.

Another option is to take the car / wheels for a "road-force" balance, which takes runout as well as weight balance into account.

Note that all of the balancing in the world will be ineffective on a bent rim if you have one.

There is also a chance that if everything checks out balance and runout-wise, that there may be undiagnosed wear in your front suspension. Worn front-end components can significantly amplify even small imbalances into large steering wheel oscillations.
 

tdiatlast

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2009 Sportwagen (boughtback); 2014 Passat TDI SEL (boughtback)
I've had similar issues on VAG products: check anti-swaybar linkages.
...my opinion, of course. Internet diagnoses are dangerous.
 

740GLE

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NH
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The sound you hear may be an axle that's bent and putting strain on the CV joints. I'd take a look there.

if it was one tire, you'd notice a change in the feel of the wheel if tires are rotated front to back.
 

eugene89us

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Location
Southern USA
TDI
2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEL Premium
How would I diagnose bent axle? When I looked under the car, everything appeared normal. Do I drive fast and try to see a wobble in the wheel?

Funny thing, though, is that the wind-like noise did not start until VW did their recall for boot heat shield - wonder if they could have messed something up with the drive shaft when installing the heat shield?
 

eugene89us

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Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Location
Southern USA
TDI
2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEL Premium
I've had similar issues on VAG products: check anti-swaybar linkages.
...my opinion, of course. Internet diagnoses are dangerous.
tdiatlast, I checked the linkages - they are fairly easily movable. Without jacking up the car, I can easily move the bar on both upper and lower joints side to side only (not into and out of the socket). My wife's car is dead solid. My mechanic says some side to side movement is acceptable on any non-brand-new car, so long as it doesn't move in and out (in the direction of the bolt) or makes any noise. Is that true or should I consider replacing the linkages? I doubt, though, that it has anything to do with the shaking - and I don't hear any noises going over the bumps. Car seems stable on sharp turns.
 

thundershorts

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2015 passat tdi sel premium 2015 golf s tdi gls tdi b5.5, 2002 eurovan,Peugeot 505 td,Citroen cx25 prestige
Did you have the car aligned when tires were replaced? Check amount of weight needed to balance each tire. Personally I only use the fine setting on my balancer which goes down to 2 grams. A higher quality tire will only need a small amount of weight, and often none. If any of your tires have far more weight than the other three, it may be the culprit, bent rim or bad tire, or incorrectly mounted tire. Yellow round dot mounted at valve stem, red triangle indicates probable spot for weight. Alighment I recomment to everyone for Passat:zero toe both front and back....
 

thundershorts

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Forget road force balance, its only purpose is to make a bad tire slightly less terrible.
 

TheGrove

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Good morning.

Wanted to ask a question. Have noticed steering wheel started to shake from around 65 mph and gets worse closer to 80 mph. Recently replaced all brakes with the same problem persisting. Thought maybe the original OEM Conti's wearing out - they had 63,000 miles on them, so I had them replaced yesterday. However, the shaking persists. With Michelin tires being much more responsive, shaking also appears to be more pronounced. Rotating tires did not help - thinking maybe bad balance. Jacked up the car - there is absolutely no play in the wheels - both at 9-3 and 12-6 o'clock. Of note, I do hear a little "chaga-chaga" sound at high speeds over 50 mph, but only when I pass by the barriers where sound is more pronounced. I doubt it is brakes, because there is no vibration when braking and the braking is very smooth. Calipers were appropriately lubricated when I did the brake job.

Do you guys have any suggestions as to what to look for? I am completely at loss. Thank you.

Eugene
I had a similar problem a couple years ago with mine. I took it in and had it aligned and the tires rebalanced and the problem went away. That would be the first thing I would try as it will probably be the least expensive as well.
 

jav

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Aug 24, 2005
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MA, USA
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2003 Jetta GLS - 5 speed
Forget road force balance, its only purpose is to make a bad tire slightly less terrible.

... sad that someone would say this but I guess I understand as most shops (even with road-force) don't want to invest the time required to really fix a problem.

I have the road force balancer and it works fantastically IF you use it fully and correctly. I've solved many a vibration problem that others couldn't BUT- you have to be willing to put in the time and effort.

If you have someone in your area that has the system and is willing to spend an hour with your wheels, at very least they should be able to tell you definitively if your tires/rims are the source of the vibration and if they are, they can either fix it or tell you what needs to happen to fix it.
 

tdiatlast

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tdiatlast, I checked the linkages - they are fairly easily movable. Without jacking up the car, I can easily move the bar on both upper and lower joints side to side only (not into and out of the socket). My wife's car is dead solid. My mechanic says some side to side movement is acceptable on any non-brand-new car, so long as it doesn't move in and out (in the direction of the bolt) or makes any noise. Is that true or should I consider replacing the linkages? I doubt, though, that it has anything to do with the shaking - and I don't hear any noises going over the bumps. Car seems stable on sharp turns.
On my 1993 Audi S-4, I felt no problem, unless I encountered a road imperfection...the jolt would cause the steering wheel to shake violently, as the sway-bar linkage would shift back and forth/up and down. I can imagine a combination of loose linkage PLUS minor wheel balance issue could trigger the same steering wheel vibration.
...of course, we're all guessing...
I second the "sad" opinion about road-force balance. If used properly, using the system can solve balance problems.
 

eugene89us

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Location
Southern USA
TDI
2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEL Premium
I had a local FireStone mount and balance the wheels from TireRack before posting this thread. Unfortunately, they managed to scratch every one of my rims. One was scuffed so bad, I raised a fuss and had them completely replace one rim. The other rims have less visible chips, but with 63,000 miles and a couple of rock dings per rim and one curb rub on one, I can live with that. Nothing stays perfect for long. So I came in today to have them replace the most damaged rim. The service advisor, seeing how particular I am about quality of work, assigned me to their senior technician, who did a flawless job of mounting on our 18-inch rims. Why can't everyone be as diligent and take pride in their work - that is beyond me. Maybe being in the South has something to do with it? Quality here is quite lacking in EVERYTHING. Anyways, two of the rims have about 7 or 8 small sticker weights close to wheel "spokes", two have just one or two. Brand new rim is one of the two with a multitude of weights - I guess variation in production or something?

Anyways, the service advisor agreed to order road force balance for no charge instead of regular balancing. The senior tech mentioned that a few wheels were off balance by a few ounces! I just took a ride on the interstate in the range I mentioned, and I cannot tell any steering wheel movement! What a difference!!! I am not making a conclusion yet until I make another run to make sure - the pavement I was on was a bit more aged, but besides natural cracks in the asphalt, I will be hard pressed to say that there was any other movement. I will be going on smooth pavement tonight, so I will check it out.

Man, I am a believer of quality work combined with good balance job. I am still unsure - are you guys suggesting me to change the sway bar links? Is there an allowance for some movement or does it have to be rock solid? I can try to post it to YouTube. Thanks to everyone for great input!
 

tdiatlast

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Fort Worth, Texas
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2009 Sportwagen (boughtback); 2014 Passat TDI SEL (boughtback)
At 63k miles, swaybar links should still be okay, although some here have replaced them earlier than that.
If the balancing job solved your vibration, no need to do anything else, right?
 

thundershorts

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west chester pa
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2015 passat tdi sel premium 2015 golf s tdi gls tdi b5.5, 2002 eurovan,Peugeot 505 td,Citroen cx25 prestige
What I said about road force was not to condemn or dis the technology, but to bring out the purpose its needed in the first place. Apparently some of the rims themselves were several oz out of balance making normal balance techniques difficult if not impossible. I personally would have not used a rim in that condition to start with. When economics demand that one use such, then road force, and the cost may be justified. Sorry if I offended anyone with this expensive setup. I would think that driving a car with an out of balance situation, other than ruining tires, wouldn't do the expensive electromechanical steering system any favors either.
 

Funguy

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If it is a minor shake then it could be the locking lug bolts in the wrong position. They are supposed to be in one of two particular positions and I found that moving them corrected a minor shake at high speeds in my car.
 

Highspeed

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Mar 8, 2022
Location
Alabama
TDI
2015 VW Passat TDI
I have a 2015 VW Passat TDI. I had a shake at that speed as I drove it from the new car dealership. I drove this car for 165,000 miles with the shake. I placed a box of pistol bullets in the passenger side floor and they rattled like crazy. No rattle at all in the other floors. I bought a front right hub and replaced it and no more steering wheel shake. :)
 

Funguy

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I thought I had mine fixed a few time but I guess it was wishful thinking. I really like the car except that it feels like I might lose a wheel at speed. My wife's GSW handles way better on the highway. I was thinking of doing brakes and rotors this summer. Maybe I will get new hubs also. Are they hard to change?
 

tristan81491

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Iowa City
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2015 Passat TDI SEL
FWIW, my local Firestone did my tire replacement and alignment. I put on Pirelli P7's and the car still pulled slightly to the right as it did prior to the new tires/alignment, but just a little bit less. When they handed the car back to me they said they did not do all of the alignment because there are settings they need VW tools for. What was frustrating is that they still charged the full price of the alignment and I had to bring it to VW to fix it.

Here's a screen shot of the before and after specs from Firestone. The Caster seems like it's still off but I am unsure whether it's even adjustable. I did also have a bit of vibration that went away but I think it was the old tires that were imbalanced.

 

Highspeed

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2015 VW Passat TDI
I thought I had mine fixed a few time but I guess it was wishful thinking. I really like the car except that it feels like I might lose a wheel at speed. My wife's GSW handles way better on the highway. I was thinking of doing brakes and rotors this summer. Maybe I will get new hubs also. Are they hard to change?
No but there are numerous items to remove. Watch the Youtube. Com video. I would determine which wheel is causing the shake first so you are not guessing and waisting time and money. I had mine in several shops and they could not find the cause of the shake but I did.
 

03 shaker

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No but there are numerous items to remove. Watch the Youtube. Com video. I would determine which wheel is causing the shake first so you are not guessing and waisting time and money. I had mine in several shops and they could not find the cause of the shake but I did.
How did you find which wheel was the cause? Similar to you, i've had the shake since I bought my Passat at 36K miles. 2 sets of tires, wheels in all different positions, balancing, etc. never really makes much difference.

I think I remember reading in other forums that the hub can be the cause of the shake, and I also read in another forum that one person replaced the right axle and that fixed the shake. I really want this fixed and i'm almost at the point of throwing parts at it, starting with the right front hub.
 

Highspeed

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2015 VW Passat TDI
How did you find which wheel was the cause? Similar to you, i've had the shake since I bought my Passat at 36K miles. 2 sets of tires, wheels in all different positions, balancing, etc. never really makes much difference.

I think I remember reading in other forums that the hub can be the cause of the shake, and I also read in another forum that one person replaced the right axle and that fixed the shake. I really want this fixed and i'm almost at the point of throwing parts at it, starting with the right front hub.
I brought my Passat up to the shaking speed and placed a box of pistol bullets in each floor and the passenger front was the only that made the bullets rattle. I checked everything under the and it was all tight. When I checked the right front hub it had a small amount of play. Hard to find that play. Took the risk and replaced it and it cured my shake 100%.
 

03 shaker

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2015 Passat SEL
I brought my Passat up to the shaking speed and placed a box of pistol bullets in each floor and the passenger front was the only that made the bullets rattle. I checked everything under the and it was all tight. When I checked the right front hub it had a small amount of play. Hard to find that play. Took the risk and replaced it and it cured my shake 100%.
Ah ok, thanks! I read the part about the bullet box but didn't realize that's how you tested. I'll have to do the same. I know with my shake, most of the time I can feel it in the floor along with the steering wheel. I'm really sick of this and want it fixed soon.
 

Highspeed

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Ah ok, thanks! I read the part about the bullet box but didn't realize that's how you tested. I'll have to do the same. I know with my shake, most of the time I can feel it in the floor along with the steering wheel. I'm really sick of this and want it fixed soon.
I also could feel the shake in the floor and steering wheel. My passenger seat would also vibrate. I have 165,00 miles on my car and recently figured put the problem. Stay in touch and let me know if that works for you. Just so you know I could find any play in the
Hub by raising the tire off the ground and trying to move it North, South and East, West.
 

Funguy

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Thanks Highspeed. I will probably have it done by a local shop. Both front hubs along with the brakes and rotors. Nice work btw

****Did you mean you could NOT find play in the hub by raising the tire???***
 

Funguy

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There is a lot to be said for thinking things out yourself in a lot of different situations from cars to the universe.
I wonder how so many of our Passats have had this shaking problem from day one. Sounds like there might out to be a TSB on this if it is the common problem for most of us.

**Did you mean to say in your post above that you could NOT find any play in the hub when you lifted the car?**
 

Highspeed

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2015 VW Passat TDI
There is a lot to be said for thinking things out yourself in a lot of different situations from cars to the universe.
I wonder how so many of our Passats have had this shaking problem from day one. Sounds like there might out to be a TSB on this if it is the common problem for most of us.

**Did you mean to say in your post above that you could NOT find any play in the hub when you lifted the car?**
Yes I could not find any play. But when I got the hub off it had a very small amount of play.
 

Windex

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Most hub related wheel vibrations are either:

a very small (almost impossible to feel with the vehicle raised) amount of play in the bearing, amplifying an already existing imbalance or out of round situation in the hub, wheel, tire or combination of the three
looseness in a suspension component doing the same thing (bushings, ball joints, strut mounts)
Imbalanced wheel
out-of-round wheel/tire (note that you can balance a very out of round wheel on a balancer, doesn't mean it will not vibrate!)
out of round hub (bad machining job).
improperly mounted wheel / inconsistent wheel fastener torque / inconsistent/dirty mating surfaces.

That's it. Any front end mechanic worth bringing the car to should know the above. If the front end checks out (no play in any suspension part), then set up a dial indicator and meticulously check runout of everything. I have had cars and trucks where components just had stacked tolerances - a wheel a little bit out, a hub a little out, a tire also out, and luck of the draw had all of these lined up in the worst way. Identifying each and rotating assemblies so the out-of-round tolerances were no longer stacked, but now offsetting each other got rid of the vibration.

Can't say I've ever needed to use a box of bullets to diagnose a vibration issue... :eek:
 
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