Q: Periodically vibrating steering wheel at interstate speeds

asked by on October 17, 2016

When I drove my car on the interstate for the first time in a few months, I noticed a change in the steering. Once I get up to about 65-75 mph, the steering wheel starts vibrating, about one second of vibrating, then about a second break, then repeat over and over. There is also a bit more play in the steering wheel than usual. I don't really hear anything new to go along with the vibrating wheel. I'm wondering, what could be some possible causes, and will it likely be in the ballpark of hundreds of dollars to fix, or thousands? Then, is it probably safe to keep driving around town for a couple months while I save up some money to fix it?

My car has 180000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

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Vibration at that speed is often related to the tires. It could be that one or more of the tires are out-of-balance, or that they have worn unevenly and now have a bad pattern worn into them. Vibration can also be related to bad shocks, and your description of the periodic nature of the vibration makes me think that is where you’ll find your trouble. But the thing you describe that is the most concerning is the incidence of freeplay in the steering wheel. This could mean that one of the tie rods is wearing out and it could be dangerous. You’d better not put this one off. You need to have the front suspension inspected by a professional. YourMechanic can send a technician to your home to inspect the steering and suspension and advise you on what needs to be done.

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