Q: Heavy vibration when braking above 40 mph. Also vibrates in the steering wheel

asked by on October 18, 2016

I'm experiencing a lot of vibration in my car above 40 mph - some vibration from 20-30 mph. It's constant and also occurs significantly in the steering wheel when I brake while going high speeds. I had the brake pads checked and they have 9 mm left, so I don't think it's a brake problem. I've heard that this can be a result of a wheel balancing issue but I just wanted to get another opinion.

My car has 214000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

This may be a variety of things, such as wheels and tires out-of-balance, poor alignment, worn or failing wheel bearings, worn or failing control arm bushings, or worn or failing suspension components.

A wheel bearing will usually fail due to pitting or small damage on the surface of the rollers or the bearing race. Both the surface of the rollers and the race is precision machined to tight tolerances and highly polished to allow the rollers to pass easily over the race with the addition of bearing grease for lubrication and cooling. Over time, the bearing will wear slightly, allowing microscopic pieces of metal into the grease.

Bearing noise can sound a lot like a brake pad dragging or grinding. It can also sound like whirring, whining, or humming depending on how much sound deadening material your vehicle has in it. Bearing noise will always be dependent on vehicle speed; meaning that, as you speed up or slow down, the noise should change frequency or loudness.

Cornering may affect the noise from a damaged front wheel bearing and is usually more pronounced as you make turns. I would suggest having a professional from YourMechanic come to your location to inspect the vibration problem and proceed with the needed repairs.

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