Steering Wheel Shakes/Rotates back and forth ~ 1" - Shimmy's?
You can let go of the wheel and it still drives straight, but you can see the wheel shimmy back and forth about 1", like someone is turning it back and forth really fast. Not as much vibration as there is the feeling of the wheel shaking. We checked the tires and they seemed fine, but I have read many problems end up being the tires. It happens at low speeds, 15-25 and at high speeds, but a little worse. I checked to tie rods, etc, and yes they are worn some, but seemed fine as well.
The KEY here is the way the wheel "shimmy's" back and forth???
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Just about has to be an axle shaft,either bent or has a bad CV joint. Might br able to see it but it would have to supported at the lower control arm (so it is at normal ride height,not the weels hanging unsupported)
You need to verify that you don't have a low tire first,After that have the wheels checked on a spin balancer to check for a bent wheel,If you can't see a bend wheel problem,it will be a seperated tire or the steel belt shifted in one tire,You can rotate the tire to get that feeling out of the steering wheel until you replace ties.
This sounds like tie rod ends are going out. Before you remove the old ones, mark on the threads where it currently is seated or you will throw it out of alingment when you put new ones on. You may need to borrow or buy the tool for poping out the tie rod end. They aren't a big deal to change if you have some basic tools and sometimes you don't need the wedge tool either. Once you get the old one out, try moving it around. If it is real loose and moves easily, thats your problem. But the swaying you are describing sound like this is the problem. Could be you steering control arms as well but because the inside of the tires are worn I doubt it.
Alignment has alot to do with the tires not shimmying.. Like zero toe setting. Loose componants like tie rod ends and the idler ar worn. You can ck for excess front end play by holding the front and back of the wheel and pushing and pulling on it, like rocking it. OR have someone rock the steering while you watch where the play is from underneath. By rocking I mean turn the steering wheel back and forth. Look at all th joints and pivot points for excess play, which is, movement not immediate to the rest of the steering system. Tire balance is very important. Wheel hop is a sign of a bad tire and it overtaxes the shock absorber. Shocks don't cause shimmy because they are a vertical movement controlA shimmy is lateral or side to side.Wheel balance weights must be spit. If a 2 oz. weight is needed to balance the tire, Oe once should be on the inside of the wheel and one ounce on the outside directly across from each outher.. Loose wheel brgs will cause shimmy, but they would not last long. Caster setting on the wheel alignment will also cause shimmy. Like on a shopping car. too much caster causes the wheel to start fluttering and is very hard on other componants. This may be why you have worn tie rod ends and a bad pitman arm. Worn control arm bushings and ball joints directly affect titre wear and can only be feltwhen the front end hits a dip and detected by side wear on the tire edges. Summary: replace the tie rod end and have the car aligned. Good Luck, -Ned_ sorry about the book
Check front end again for any side play (small amounts at different locations can add up. Also check that steering box is not loose on frame.Check all bushings as well. If all else fails, if caster is adjustable have another degree or two put in. (positive)