Why is my steering wheel shaking on my 2002 Camry?
Mike, big kudos to you for going so far before asking for help, also for journalizing your work thus far.
You\'re probably going to be very skeptical about this, but... I think you DO have a bad CV joint. I think one of the CV joint boots tore or cracked and dirt got inside. It happens, and the tear / crack is sometimes difficult to find. A CV joint runs with very very little clearance inside, so any dirt jams the ball inside its groove... and that can happen as often as twice per revolution of the road wheel.
It\'s a very classic symptom - it\'s minor at first, then rapidly becomes scary in its violence, as it shakes the steering wheel from side to side. If allowed to continue, it\'ll feel very much like a flat tire, and the steering wheel may jerk 90 degrees from side to side.
I\'d advise that you get underneath the car and feel very carefully along and around all four axle boots - transaxle end and wheel end - on both sides of the car. I mean feel VERY carefully. I think you\'ll find one of the boots cracked. You may be able to slip your fingers inside the crack and feel the grease inside the boot.
If you find such a crack, DO NOT drive that vehicle until the axle shaft is replaced. They come as a complete unit, axle shaft, both CV joints & boots, stub axle, fully factory-lubricated. Trust me, you don\'t want to buy them any other way because you CANNOT keep them clean enough during assembly.
Now the upstroke. It\'s not a terribly expensive fix, and I think it\'s well within your skill set. I\'ve done one in a driving snowstorm, 1/4-mile from any house, in the dead of night, with a Coleman lantern as my only source of light. That was actually a pretty pleasant night, as I recall - it\'s not a horrible job.
If you like, quickly verify - jack up one front wheel, turn the wheels far to either side, thoroughly chock both rear wheels (park brake OFF), start the engine, and (CAREFULLY) put the car in gear. If you have the offending wheel lifted, the lifted wheel will jerk or hop or the steering wheel will jerk. If you get no effect at all, try jacking the other wheel up (lower the first one first) & repeat the test. I believe that when ONE of those wheels is in the air and the engine is spinning it, you\'ll see the symptom you describe... although the car itself will not be moving at the time.
Run that test with caution, of course. If the car drops off the jack while you\'re testing, the car COULD drive away uncontrolled. Also... don\'t just shift back into Park with the lifted wheel still spinning; the parking pawl will NOT appreciate that. Instead, either step on the brakes or shut off the engine before shifting back into Park.
Jul 31, 2014 |
2002 Toyota Camry