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Old 12-02-2018, 01:33 PM   #1
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Steering wheel shaking at 75+ MPH

Hey everyone -

I'm now starting year 2 of the steering wheel shake saga... Anyway, the most recent thing I did has improve the issue significantly (maybe 75% gone now) but I still have this infuriating shake in my steering wheel at 75+ mph and a lot of bump steer / some play in my steering.

Car is 2002 S with 88k miles.

I have replaced all of the following items in search of this issue:

Tie rods (in & out)
Drop links (front)
Struts & Strut mounts (front and rear)
Control arms (front and rear)
Front tracking arms
Rear trailing arms
Wheel bearings (front)
Tires (Continental ExtremeContact DW)
Sway bar bushings (front and rear)
Multiple alignments
Multiple tire balances

All parts are OEM.

Most recently, I went to a Porsche dealer and had them align the car and balance the front wheels. The toe was set to toe out on both the front and rear which they then corrected to zero toe in on the front and slight toe in on the rear.

I'm really at my wits' end here. What else could I look at? I have thrown a ton of money at this issue and I just want to enjoy my car again.

Pretty much every shop I have taken it to has claimed it to be wheel balancing, and I have had the wheels balanced probably 5 times all on Hunter Road Force machines. Every time they balance them, they seem to be close to a 1/2 oz out of balance - is it possible that there is something inside my tie that is causing this? This issue started with my old tires and has continued with the new ones too. I've had multiple places check the rims for bends, but nothing has been noticed - only thing I can think of is that they have not checked the rims with the tires off. I have also tried different PSIs and swapping tires L/R.

Rotors have a pretty significant lip on them, but the vibration does not get any worse when braking. The vibration does seem to get a little bit better as the car warms up... any help would be awesome guys.


Last edited by speedyspaghetti; 12-02-2018 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 12-02-2018, 02:02 PM   #2
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I work at a Ford dealership at the back counter parts department. We have seen this issue a few times. Mostly it deals with cheap or old tires. We have seen cheap tires do this right from the factory. The cords can start to separate, and cause all sorts of fun issues that are hidden. Such as balancing the tire on a regular balancer and have it come out perfect every time. But then get the vehicle up to speed and you get vibrations.

Good tires can do it as well, but it is usually due to some kind of trauma to the tire. Like a really bad pot hole.

My suggestion.... if you can.... is borrow a set of wheels and tires. See if the problem goes away.
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Old 12-02-2018, 02:21 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by speedyspaghetti View Post
Hey everyone -

I'm now starting year 2 of the steering wheel shake saga... Anyway, the most recent thing I did has improve the issue significantly (maybe 75% gone now) but I still have this infuriating shake in my steering wheel at 75+ mph and a lot of bump steer / some play in my steering.

Car is 2002 S with 88k miles.

I have replaced all of the following items in search of this issue:

Tie rods (in & out)
Drop links (front)
Struts & Strut mounts (front and rear)
Control arms (front and rear)
Front tracking arms
Rear trailing arms
Wheel bearings (front)
Tires (Continental ExtremeContact DW)
Sway bar bushings (front and rear)
Multiple alignments
Multiple tire balances

All parts are OEM.

Most recently, I went to a Porsche dealer and had them align the car and balance the front wheels. The toe was set to toe out on both the front and rear which they then corrected to zero toe in on the front and slight toe in on the rear.

I'm really at my wits' end here. What else could I look at? I have thrown a ton of money at this issue and I just want to enjoy my car again.

Pretty much every shop I have taken it to has claimed it to be wheel balancing, and I have had the wheels balanced probably 5 times all on Hunter Road Force machines. Every time they balance them, they seem to be close to a 1/2 oz out of balance - is it possible that there is something inside my tie that is causing this? This issue started with my old tires and has continued with the new ones too. I've had multiple places check the rims for bends, but nothing has been noticed - only thing I can think of is that they have not checked the rims with the tires off. I have also tried different PSIs and swapping tires L/R.

Rotors have a pretty significant lip on them, but the vibration does not get any worse when braking. The vibration does seem to get a little bit better as the car warms up... any help would be awesome guys.

Whenever you have wheels & tires balanced it is best to observe them spinning on the balancer to see if there is noticable excess movement, as this is the most common cause for what you are feeling. Once you have seen with your own eyes this is not the problem,move on to the next most likely cause. At this point I would guess you have a bad wheel bearing or suspension part. Try driving by a wall late at night to listen for any unusual noises, the wall will bounce the noise back to you.
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Old 12-02-2018, 02:22 PM   #4
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I feel your pain as I went through the same thing. I think that due to the directness of the suspension and performance orientation of the car there is always going to be a little bit of vibration. I've owned my car since new in 2003 and there's always been a little steering wheel vibration. I find that the car is sensitive to the road surface, amount of gas in the tank and tire pressure. Do you have Porsche Boxster OEM wheels in a 16, 17 or 18 inch diameter with the proper offsets? If you happen to have 19 or 20 inch wheels with even lower profile sidewalls that could be part of the problem.

Although you have new tires, I think you need to see if the issue can be isolated to the wheels and tires. Do you know anyone with a similar car or a shop that can help you out? If there is someone who has a car without this issue, see if you can swap wheels and tires and drive both cars with the wheels swapped. If your vibration goes away and it appears in the other car, the vibration's cause is in your wheels and tires. If the vibration is still the same with the other wheels and tires on your car you've isolated the issue to something in the car. If this vibration went away with the other set of 4 wheels and tires, while this is risky and it would be up to a shop to decide if they would do it, the wheels and tires could be swapped back one by one with test drives in between each swap to isolate it to a specific tire. It may well be that no one will be willing to do this because of potential handling issues with mismatched tires which is understandable. If you have a friend with a Boxster but not the ability to swap wheels, maybe you both could take alternating test drives in both cars. You may find the steering wheel vibration in your friend's car feels exactly the same, better or worse. If it feels better, than that could be a reason to keep trying to track down the source of your car's vibration. If it feels the same or worse, maybe you've reached the point where it's not going to get any better.

Another suggestion is to take your car to a shop that does high end alloy wheel repair and refinishing. They can unmount your tires and put the wheels on a machine or jig with dial indicators and precisely check all of your wheels for any out of roundness, and any radial or lateral runout (up and down and side to side wobble) on both the inside and outside rim bead. And if they find any, they can true the wheel(s). You said the rims have been checked for bends, but not with the tires off. It may be that these people eyeballed your rims as the wheels spun on the balancer and called it good, or maybe even held a pencil next to the spinning wheel to look for issues. For a lot of cars that is good enough but I know that it's not enough on mine with 18 inch Lt. Carrera wheels which bend fairly easily on what passes for roads around where I live.
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Old 12-02-2018, 02:47 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by PaulE View Post
I feel your pain as I went through the same thing. I think that due to the directness of the suspension and performance orientation of the car there is always going to be a little bit of vibration. I've owned my car since new in 2003 and there's always been a little steering wheel vibration. I find that the car is sensitive to the road surface, amount of gas in the tank and tire pressure. Do you have Porsche Boxster OEM wheels in a 16, 17 or 18 inch diameter with the proper offsets? If you happen to have 19 or 20 inch wheels with even lower profile sidewalls that could be part of the problem.

Although you have new tires, I think you need to see if the issue can be isolated to the wheels and tires. Do you know anyone with a similar car or a shop that can help you out? If there is someone who has a car without this issue, see if you can swap wheels and tires and drive both cars with the wheels swapped. If your vibration goes away and it appears in the other car, the vibration's cause is in your wheels and tires. If the vibration is still the same with the other wheels and tires on your car you've isolated the issue to something in the car. If this vibration went away with the other set of 4 wheels and tires, while this is risky and it would be up to a shop to decide if they would do it, the wheels and tires could be swapped back one by one with test drives in between each swap to isolate it to a specific tire. It may well be that no one will be willing to do this because of potential handling issues with mismatched tires which is understandable. If you have a friend with a Boxster but not the ability to swap wheels, maybe you both could take alternating test drives in both cars. You may find the steering wheel vibration in your friend's car feels exactly the same, better or worse. If it feels better, than that could be a reason to keep trying to track down the source of your car's vibration. If it feels the same or worse, maybe you've reached the point where it's not going to get any better.

Another suggestion is to take your car to a shop that does high end alloy wheel repair and refinishing. They can unmount your tires and put the wheels on a machine or jig with dial indicators and precisely check all of your wheels for any out of roundness, and any radial or lateral runout (up and down and side to side wobble) on both the inside and outside rim bead. And if they find any, they can true the wheel(s). You said the rims have been checked for bends, but not with the tires off. It may be that these people eyeballed your rims as the wheels spun on the balancer and called it good, or maybe even held a pencil next to the spinning wheel to look for issues. For a lot of cars that is good enough but I know that it's not enough on mine with 18 inch Lt. Carrera wheels which bend fairly easily on what passes for roads around where I live.
Hey thanks for the extremely detailed response. The wheels are 18" turbo twists. I have tried to find someone willing to swap wheels/tires, but I have not been successful so far. I've had this issue with both my old tires Nankangs (previous owner, although they felt great for about 8k miles before I started feeling this) and the new Continentals, which leads to me think about the rim more. Yeah, all the places that have looked at the rim have only spun it on a wheel balanced and eye-balled it. I could try asking a wheel repair place to unmount and remount the tires and check all rims for trueness and roundness. I don't know what other suspension parts could be the culprit here as I have replaced everything in the front end (including bearings) besides the steering rack and rotors.
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Old 12-02-2018, 02:49 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Qckslvr View Post
I work at a Ford dealership at the back counter parts department. We have seen this issue a few times. Mostly it deals with cheap or old tires. We have seen cheap tires do this right from the factory. The cords can start to separate, and cause all sorts of fun issues that are hidden. Such as balancing the tire on a regular balancer and have it come out perfect every time. But then get the vehicle up to speed and you get vibrations.

Good tires can do it as well, but it is usually due to some kind of trauma to the tire. Like a really bad pot hole.

My suggestion.... if you can.... is borrow a set of wheels and tires. See if the problem goes away.
That makes sense - I started feeling this issue on my old tires - Nankangs from the PO - although they felt great for about 8k miles. The new Continentals should be better, but there's always the possibility. The thing that miffs me is that every single wheel balancing has found them to be a bit out of balance, even if it was just recently done with no trauma in between.
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Old 12-02-2018, 02:58 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by speedyspaghetti View Post
That makes sense - I started feeling this issue on my old tires - Nankangs from the PO - although they felt great for about 8k miles. The new Continentals should be better, but there's always the possibility. The thing that miffs me is that every single wheel balancing has found them to be a bit out of balance, even if it was just recently done with no trauma in between.


.. Basicly the point of my post.
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Old 12-02-2018, 03:18 PM   #8
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Wheel balance

always wheel balance.
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Old 12-02-2018, 04:55 PM   #9
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always wheel balance.
So what could be throwing off the wheel balance if I've had it done 5 times already?
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Old 12-02-2018, 05:06 PM   #10
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Old 12-02-2018, 05:21 PM   #11
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Are the rims straight?
Are the tyres itself mounted correctly. Over here in Germany we have white dots on the tyres that indicate the balancing of the tyre itself. The white dot is supposed to be on the opposite side of the valve.
Are the brake disks worn? Sometimes bad brake disks lead to a wobble even if you don't use the brake.
Do you use wheel spacers? Remove them.

Regards, Markus
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Old 12-02-2018, 05:36 PM   #12
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May be off the wall, but do you have special valve stem caps that were removed for testing? Some of the metal valve stem caps can throw off your wheel balance if they a metal. Were they off the tires when the balance was done?
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Old 12-02-2018, 06:13 PM   #13
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It's my guess that it's one of the wheels. Like others have said, see if you can swap wheels with another Boxster owner and see what happens. You can also try switching right-to-left front wheels, and see if it feels any different.

Blackcloud has a good point, what kind of stem caps do you have?
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Old 12-02-2018, 06:41 PM   #14
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My .02. Find a shop with a road force balance machine and let them work their magic. They should be able to isolate a bent/warped rim and or a tire deformation issue quickly.

Motor Week's favorite mechanic, Pat Goss has a quick description video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQxVAssnbp8
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Old 12-02-2018, 09:50 PM   #15
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Are the rims straight?
Are the tyres itself mounted correctly. Over here in Germany we have white dots on the tyres that indicate the balancing of the tyre itself. The white dot is supposed to be on the opposite side of the valve.
Are the brake disks worn? Sometimes bad brake disks lead to a wobble even if you don't use the brake.
Do you use wheel spacers? Remove them.

Regards, Markus
Hi Markus,

The rims are straight according to those who have balanced the tires - however, they have only been checked with the tires still on the rims.

I need to double check for the dot tomorrow, but this issue started with my old tires and has continued with my new ones as well.

Brake discs have a pretty bad lip on the edge and they squeal a lot. I do not get any juddering or anything when I hit the brakes though.

I do not have any wheel spacers.
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Old 12-02-2018, 09:51 PM   #16
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My .02. Find a shop with a road force balance machine and let them work their magic. They should be able to isolate a bent/warped rim and or a tire deformation issue quickly.

Motor Week's favorite mechanic, Pat Goss has a quick description video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQxVAssnbp8
Hey Rex,

I've had them road force balanced multiple times and it has not solved the issue. Is it possible that the machine does not pick up a high speed balance issue?
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Old 12-02-2018, 09:52 PM   #17
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It's my guess that it's one of the wheels. Like others have said, see if you can swap wheels with another Boxster owner and see what happens. You can also try switching right-to-left front wheels, and see if it feels any different.

Blackcloud has a good point, what kind of stem caps do you have?
Stem caps are the regular black plastic ones. Another member of the forum has graciously offered to let me swap wheels with him, so I will report back with that... hopefully this will be the issue.
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Old 12-02-2018, 09:53 PM   #18
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May be off the wall, but do you have special valve stem caps that were removed for testing? Some of the metal valve stem caps can throw off your wheel balance if they a metal. Were they off the tires when the balance was done?
Good idea - I do not know if they removed them, but my valve stem caps are the regular black plastic ones.
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Old 12-03-2018, 01:39 AM   #19
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Hi Markus,

The rims are straight according to those who have balanced the tires - however, they have only been checked with the tires still on the rims.

I need to double check for the dot tomorrow, but this issue started with my old tires and has continued with my new ones as well.

Brake discs have a pretty bad lip on the edge and they squeal a lot. I do not get any juddering or anything when I hit the brakes though.

I do not have any wheel spacers.
I would have check each rim. Sometimes rims can be damaged by curbstones, but you don't see the damage. If they are not 100% straight and not 100% round this can lead to vibrations. Had that problem myself with another car a long time ago. 3 rims where not 100% round and had some "side impact" (don't know the right technical term in english for that in german it's "Seitenschlag"). Felt more like an vibration in the steering that started above 90-100 mph. Swapped the rims with new after market ones to get the problem fixed.

Vented brake discs can also be a problem. Sometimes people try to clean them. Especially the rust where they are vented (gap). This usually leads to an imbalance of the disk (one side is heavier than the other - same as an unbalanced wheel). You will not get any wobble when you brake, but the disk will affect a shaking / vibration in the steering at higher speeds.

Regards, Markus
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Old 12-03-2018, 04:24 AM   #20
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Also....

.....if the shop is mounting the wheels, they may be over torquing the wheel bolts. This can warp a rotor and cause similar vibration

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