A wobbly car can be scary and dangerous. For cars with a very wobbly steering wheel, you might want to know if unbalanced tires can cause a distinct vibration in your vehicle. Though a car may seem to be running smoothly, small amounts of weight from mud, rocks, and other road debris can cause tires to be unbalanced. If left unchecked, the imbalance could worsen and hinder your driving abilities.
Do unbalanced tires cause your car to do the death wobble?
Unbalanced tires can cause death wobble, so it’s important to take proper care of your tires regularly. However, just balancing your tires may not solve the problem since issues with wheels, axles, suspension, and steering may also be involved.
If you are experiencing any type of wobble with your car, it should be dealt with as soon as possible. Even the slightest wobbles can evolve into risky imbalances that can be uncomfortable and unsafe.
Since tire repairs may not be easy to access when driving in secluded locations, you should try to spot and fix culprits for wobbling at your earliest opportunity. Much of the maintenance needed to prevent death wobble is likely to be good for your car anyway.
What is Death Wobble?
A death wobble is basically a strong wobbling of a car, particularly around the steering wheel area. The wobbling largely occurs within the car as opposed to bumps on the road.
Death wobbles can still be felt when the car is driven on a smooth road or at a stop. Some severe death wobbles will include very intense wobbling of the entire car.
Though death wobbles are commonly associated with rugged 4×4 vehicles such as the Jeep Wrangler and Toyota Land Cruiser, the shaky phenomenon is known to occur on other types of vehicles.
I’ve experienced massive death wobbles on low-profile sports cars, which ended up being due to engine troubles.
There are so many moving parts, electronics, and other aspects in a car that are potential causes of death wobble.
Since unbalanced tires are a common cause of death wobbles and unstable rides in general, it is a good idea to address all issues related to the imbalance so you can at least rule that out if a death wobble were to occur.
Common triggers for an unbalanced ride are dents, bends, debris, and other irregularities on wheels, so avoiding those things can be great for death wobble prevention.
How Can I Keep My Tires Balanced?
Tires can become unbalanced at any time, so it’s good to become familiar with some of the causes instead of relying completely on auto technicians.
Though triggers for unbalanced tires may not cause a full-blown death wobble, it’s good to get ahead of potential issues before they snowball into serious problems.
When driving on any road, you should always keep an eye out for potholes, bumps, rocks, dirt patches, glass, and anything else that might cause even the slightest damage to your wheels and tires.
Sometimes when a road doesn’t have any noticeable objects or obstructions in it, if the road is consistently uneven and bumpy, that could cause wear on your tires, wheels, and suspension.
I usually give my car at least a quick visual check each day to make sure there is no significant damage on the wheels and tires.
Every so often, I’ll also perform a more thorough inspection to see if there are any dings, bends, or other anomalies to any wheels or tires.
Having a wheel or tire that is different in any way to other tires could be problematic since there could be weight imbalances that could lead to wobbles on the road.
The wobbles might start off being very slight, but they can quickly develop into rougher wobbles down the line.
Keeping your car, truck, or SUV clean could reduce the risk of getting unbalanced tires and preventing death wobble.
When you drive your car day after day without occasionally washing it, dirt, gunk, and other debris could build up to form hard bits of mud that might throw off the balance of your tires.
Even if the tires are perfectly balanced, the overall car imbalance caused by the wheels can cause gradual increases in your car’s wobbliness and uneven tire wear.
To ensure all your bases are covered when it comes to balancing your tires, you should take your car to a certified tire specialist as often as you can. They can perform a visual inspection of your car tires and rotate tires, too, if necessary, while they balance them.
You should ask the tire specialist how often your particular car should be brought in for tire balancing.
Certain car makes, models, and tires may have maintenance requirements that are unique to them.
If your usual drive locations tend to be more rough than standard roads, you might want to take your car in for service more often.
Even if you don’t need repairs, it can be beneficial for your safety to at least have check ups.
What Other Problems Can Unbalanced Tires Cause?
Unbalanced tires can make cars susceptible to adverse performance issues such as drifting, reduced mileage, and wobbly rides.
Most modern cars are generally tuned to run with balanced tires, so having unbalanced tires puts your car at risk of improper calibration and inaccurate performance of other components.
Since cars have many electronic components integrated into its overall system, having unbalanced tires can throw electronics out of sync.
Though the consequences of having slightly unbalanced tires might seem minor, you can optimize the performance of your car and potentially extend its lifespan by keeping the tires balanced.
What might take a small bit of your time and expenses now could reduce further time and money you might spend in the future.
What Can I Do To Prevent Death Wobble?
Though a number of things can cause death wobble, you should focus on moving mechanical parts when trying to prevent death wobble.
Stationary parts on your car like your doors, windshield and car seats are much less likely to contribute to death wobble, so you won’t need to pay as much attention to them.
Overall maintenance is a great way to prevent death wobble since auto technicians can inspect every area of your car for possible culprits.
Since your car will presumably be more with you than your auto technician, you can take steps to monitor potential issues that can lead to death wobble.
One of the simplest things you can do is to monitor any type of wobble while you are driving.
Even a slight wobble could be the start of a bigger wobble that could gradually grow into a death wobble.
Take note of where any wobbling seems to be occurring so you can report that to the auto technician.
Many of the death wobbles I have experienced had shaking around the steering wheel area, but the wobbling problems often lie deeper into the engine.
You should familiarize yourself with normal engine sounds and know that something may be off if new sounds appear.
Making sure your brakes are properly maintained is another way you can possibly prevent death wobble.
I’ve had problematic brakes that would cause intense wobbling when I would make normal stops.
If you feel the cost of auto maintenance is not worth it for just preventing death wobble, there is actually better you will be doing for your car.
Most cars need regular maintenance anyway, so it makes sense to go ahead and get it done whether you experience wobbling or not.
Auto maintenance could mitigate other problems with your car, including poor traction, inaccurate steering, and reduced fuel efficiency.