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Sahara

What are the chances that this is an out of balance wheel?

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(edited)

So ever since I bought my 2002 it's had vibration in the steering that is at its most intense between 50 and 60 mph and then smooths out at higher speeds. By applying a bit of pressure to the wheel I can largely dispel it/counter it, though it won't fully go away. I've put about 1000 miles on the car (700 of them being the drive home from its previous owner, cruising at 80) without anything breaking or falling off, so I figure if it was some critical steering component I'd have gone into a ditch by now. The vibration is not detectable in any other component of the vehicle, for instance, even when it's at its worst in the steering wheel, I can put my hand on the dash and feel nothing. No sound accompanies the vibration. Based on experience I'm almost certain that this is just a wheel out of balance, the car probably threw a wheel weight in the past. I've put off taking it in to a tire shop to have the wheels balanced because most of the tire shops around me are hacks that I wouldn't trust with the car. I'll probably take it in to a proper classic BMW shop when the weather clears, but until then, can you guys weigh in on the likely cause. The alignment is solid, the car tracks straight and the steering is about as responsive as one can expect for a largely stock '02. 

Edited by Sahara
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I had a similar issue with one of my old trucks, vibration at highway speeds, but felt like it was towards the rear.

 

I rotated the tires front to rear, and after that, the vibration moved to the front and the steering wheel shook like crazy.

 

Wheels balanced out perfectly, but one of the tires was way older than the rest and had a broken cord, and was slightly out of round.  Replaced it and everything was good.

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Just now, xr4tic said:

I had a similar issue with one of my old trucks, vibration at highway speeds, but felt like it was towards the rear.

  

 I rotated the tires front to rear, and after that, the vibration moved to the front and the steering wheel shook like crazy.

  

Wheels balanced out perfectly, but one of the tires was way older than the rest and had a broken cord, and was slightly out of round.  Replaced it and everything was good.

Interesting. I have one tire, at the back, that's a problem child - slow leak somewhere. I tend to make sure it's within a couple PSI of its brethren before driving, and all the tires are the same type and age, but perhaps its related. 

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Early MacPherson strut suspensions — such as our ‘02’s have — are particularly good at telegraphing front tire imbalances to the driver....?

 

There’s nothing special, however, about balancing ‘02 wheels. Forty years ago, I remember occasionally having to get the tires re-balanced as many as three times to eliminate those imbalances. Tire balancing, however, has advanced, I’ve not needed to get my tires re-balanced more than twice in decades! ?

 

A Kaufmann or Mavis tire shop — two big Eastern (?) chains — is every bit as good, or maybe better, than a specialized BMW shop, that probably has “less-modern” machines.

 

My “modern” cars also sometimes get re-balancings. But when you take a car to the shop and you’re there solely to get a balancing, the guys focus on it a bit more than when their primary charge is to mount and swap tires.

 

If balancing doesn't solve it, swap your rear wheels to the front, and vice versus.

 

Regards,

 

Steve

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(edited)
7 hours ago, Sahara said:

Interesting. I have one tire, at the back, that's a problem child - slow leak somewhere. I tend to make sure it's within a couple PSI of its brethren before driving, and all the tires are the same type and age, but perhaps its related. 

and how old are they?

what PSI are they kept at?

does car sit for long periods of time?

 

if tires relatively new, they are kept at recommended or higher PSI and it gets used regularly...

 

rotate the tires front to rear FIRST and see if the sypmtoms changes.  if so, then get rebalance.  if not, check wheel bearings, suspension bushings, etc.

Edited by mlytle
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Get someone to balance your tire with a Hunter Road Force balancing machine.
Rotating the tire on the wheel a half turn may help if the tire is a lot out of balance.

Also grab the tire a 9 & 3 and try to move the wheel forward and back. If it moves, check tie rod ends.

Checking the same way at 12 & 6 is wheel bearings.

Good luck.


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Are the ball joints and front suspension bushings, tie rods all in tip top shape?

 

 

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My guess is wheel bearing. Swap your tires f & r as others recommend, first.

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What wheels are they anyway?

 

I chased a vibration for quite some time (on 15's) and it finally went away when tightened the castellated nut about 1mm more than I had wanted to.

 

And it hasn't fried a bearing yet.

 

GL,

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8 hours ago, mlytle said:

and how old are they?

what PSI are they kept at?

does car sit for long periods of time?

  

if tires relatively new, they are kept at recommended or higher PSI and it gets used regularly...

  

rotate the tires front to rear FIRST and see if the sypmtoms changes.  if so, then get rebalance.  if not, check wheel bearings, suspension bushings, etc.

The tires are from, coincidentally, the year 2002. The previous owner bought them "new old stock" and indeed they are in excellent condition as far as I can tell, certainly there's very little treadwear. That said, on account of the age and the one with a leak, I don't fully trust them. I drive the car every day, weather permitting, a couple of miles at least. Tires are inflated to 32 PSI at the rear and 35 at the front (the latter was recommended to me by another 2002 owner here locally to make the steering lighter). 

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Look for an experienced, old-school tire shop - they can spin each tire/wheel on the car and correct the tire roundness and wheel balance. Nate Jones Tire in Signal Hill (Southern California) is my local guru. -KB

 

 

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31 minutes ago, Sahara said:

The tires are from, coincidentally, the year 2002. The previous owner bought them "new old stock" and indeed they are in excellent condition as far as I can tell, certainly there's very little treadwear. That said, on account of the age and the one with a leak, I don't fully trust them. I drive the car every day, weather permitting, a couple of miles at least. Tires are inflated to 32 PSI at the rear and 35 at the front (the latter was recommended to me by another 2002 owner here locally to make the steering lighter). 

yeow.  time for new tires was about 8 years ago.  tires can age out, not just wear out.  

 

and that isn't counting the scary statement that they were "new old stock" 18 years ago.  they could be many years older.  what is the date code on the side of the tire?

 

as a side.....never buy "new old stock" tires.  buy tires with the newest "born on" date you can.  

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3 minutes ago, mlytle said:

yeow.  time for new tires was about 8 years ago.  tires can age out, not just wear out.  

 

and that isn't counting the scary statement that they were "new old stock" 18 years ago.  they could be many years older.  what is the date code on the side of the tire?

 

as a side.....never buy "new old stock" tires.  buy tires with the newest "born on" date you can.  

To be clear the date code is 2002. The tires were purchased a couple years ago. I have the receipt in the service records. 

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(edited)
2 hours ago, Sahara said:

The tires are from, coincidentally, the year 2002. The previous owner bought them "new old stock" and indeed they are in excellent condition as far as I can tell, certainly there's very little treadwear. That said, on account of the age and the one with a leak, I don't fully trust them. I drive the car every day, weather permitting, a couple of miles at least....

 

Discard 16-year-old tires. Start with new tires.

 

Regards,

 

Steve

 

Edited by Conserv
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