Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - Ben F
Hi. I posted a problem a while ago about my Cavalier which had developed some steering vibration after having new shocks fitted:

I had some interesting feedback on the problem then, but it seemed to solve itself after swapping around the wheels and then returning back to the original configuration and I put it down to the driver’s side front wheel not having been put on properly or something – basically a bit of a strange one.

All was fine until the offending wheel was removed when I had the brake fluid changed and then the vibration returned. Swapping over the wheels as I’d done before made no difference this time and I decided to try getting the wheels balanced once more (off car) and it disappeared. All was well until a little while later I changed the oil and filter and took the driver's side front wheel off (being careful to mark the position of the wheel on the hub so as to put it back in the same position) and the vibration came back again, this time quite a lot stronger (always between 60-68 MPH).

I decided to get a torque wrench to make sure the nuts were done up properly and discovered that at the correct torque (81 lb) the vibration is quite strong, but decreases if I increase the torque to 100 lb. Swapping the wheels around has no effect and they all seem to exhibit this strange phenomenon when on the driver’s side front.

So, in summary, the problem is steering vibration affected by taking the driver’s side front wheel on and off, which seems to have got worse as a result of taking it on and off a few times, and which is reduced when the nuts are tightened more than they should be.

The only explanation I can think of is the brake disk (ventilated, ABS) as this is surely the only thing that wheel nut tightness would affect as it is sandwiched in between the wheel and the hub. There is no noticeable judder through the steering when the brakes are applied by the way.

Anyway explanation / solutions / advice would be very gratefully received.

Thanks a lot,

Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - Ellis

Had this problem with my 95 Cav with alloy wheels a little way back,
long story short, after second visit to National tyres to complain that steering wheel still vibrating at 65 -70mph, the guy said he\'d take another look. I had asked for the weights to be put on the inside of the wheel for aesthetic purposes, however whilst the inside of the wheel was balanced the outside of the wheel was way off, so , weights on the inside and the out, I think he called it dynamically balancing the wheel, may well be wrong.

Everything fine no vibration,

Hope that helps, wrote this before reading the thread, I\'ll now go and look and see if I\'ve made a pink fluffy dice of myself!

Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - Dynamic Dave
If I were you I'd remove the brake disk and check the mating surfaces are clean between the back of the disk and the hub.

btw, if it's a Mk3 Cav, then the torque figure for the wheel bolts is 66 lb/ft (90Nm) - Not 81 lb/ft as you have indicated.
Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - Ben F
Thanks Dave. I had the same thought myself a while ago and removed the disk and gave the mating surfaces a good clean, all to no avail.

Strange about the torque settings - it says 81 lb/ft in my haynes manual.

Anymore comments / suggestions would be gratefully appreciated.


Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - Dynamic Dave
Stupid question, but did you also check the back of the wheel was clean as well?

The Haynes manual was where I got the torque info from, but I also remember the handbook had the same figures. What year is your Cav?
Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - Ben F
Yep, have tried several different wheels and they're all clean where they touch the disk.

The car is a '94, figures obtained from a haynes manual printed 1999, listed under "servicing specifications".
Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - wemyss
Had a similar problem a few months ago on the Vectra. Within a couple of days an awful vibration started which could be felt right through the car as well as the steering wheel.
Called in my local garage who is very good and he tried it and instantly diagnosed a faulty drive shaft.
"Had a Mondeo with exactly the same a couple of weeeks ago and we fitted new driveshafts and cured it."
Back home took each wheel off and found one rear tyre had a small flat on the tyre.
Fitted the spare and it was cured. I should examine your tyres very carefully indeed including the rears before you go for mechanical reasons.

Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - Ben F
Thanks for the advice, Alvin. The thing is that I don't think it could be down to a flat spot on any of the tyres as it's influenced by taking the driver's side front wheel off and the tightness of the nuts. After the last wheel balance (I don't think it's anything to do with wheel balance now) it was perfect until I took the wheel off to get to the oil filter, and then the vibration came back again. The spare's brand new and it exhibits exactly the same problem as the rest of the tyres which have been on the car for a while when put on the driver's side front. Therefore, I think it must be something mechanical and associated with the hub assembly.

Anymore ideas anyone?


Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - Aprilia
Front wheel bearing? (Hub will deform slightly as bolts are tightened up).
Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - Ben F
Thanks. I'll get it checked out.
Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - Tony N
Steering arm or Bottom-Ball joints, worn ones will vibrate like a good 'un. Even if they feel reasonbly stiff they're still probably worn if they're the originals.
Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - Ben F
Thanks Tony, I'll get them checked along with the wheel bearing. I think though it may well be a long shot as I can't see that these would be affected by taking the wheel on and off / tightening the nuts. When I first had the problem it seemed to cure itself literally by just taking the wheel off and putting it back again. Unfortunately this doesn't work any more and it's now worse unless I torque up the bolts more than they should be......


Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - Dynamic Dave
When I first had the problem it seemed to cure itself
literally by just taking the wheel off and putting it back
again. Unfortunately this doesn\'t work any more and it\'s now
worse unless I torque up the bolts more than they should

Ben, this sounds more and more like it is a hub related problem. I would advise against overtightening the wheel bolts as you could end up damaging the tapered seats of the alloy (vauge recollection you\'ve got alloys?) wheels that the bolts tighten down onto as they are a fairly soft material. It\'s a point worth observing actually - taking a good look at the wheel bolts and seating faces to make sure the tapers haven\'t worn.
Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - Ben F
Thanks a lot for the advice, Dave. I haven't actually got alloys but I can appreciate the fact that tightening the bolts more than they should be is not going to do the hub or the wheel any good.

How do you think I should proceed from here? As a result of the feedback I've been getting I was thinking probably the best thing is to book it in for diagnosis at the Vauxhall garage, giving them a full description of the problem and its history. Hopefully they'll be able to tell me what's causing it and then I'll take it to my mechanic friend to get it sorted, unless it's disks in which case I can change them myself.

Any further suggestions or advice will be greatfully received!



Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - Dynamic Dave

From my experience of Vauxhalls over the past 17 years, I've nearly always found that the wheels need to be perfectly balanced on the front to avoid any vibration through the steering. If only marginally out of balance, you will feel it through the steering wheel.

I think everything has been mentioned here (and in your previous thread) that *could* be causing the problem.

You could try shopping around and trying to find a garage that actually balances the wheels on the car. The only thing you have to remember is that if you ever remove a roadwheel that has been balanced using this method, it has to go back on the hub in exactly the same position as it was removed.
Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - Ben F
Cheers for the advice, Dave. I think you may well be right about the on-car wheel balancing. I came to the same conclusion myself a while ago, took the car to ATS who are the only people who do it around here and they got so far until they said that their machine was knackered (hadn't been used for months!)and basically that they had no intention of getting it fixed any time soon.

My front tyres have probably only got a few more thousand miles to go (I do quite a few miles a week and have recently done a DIY LPG conversion which works great but that's another story!) so I think I'll probably wait till I swap these, see how things are with them and then go on another quest to get the wheels balanced on the car if necessary. I'll let you know when (if!) I fix it.

Thanks again for the advice,

Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - wemyss
Just a thought Ben.. Its when you take the wheel off and replace that you get the problem. Presuming you jack the car off the body your new shock absorber would be stretched completely open and then compress when you lower. Perhaps a fault on this damper or its mounting rubbers etc???.
I know how easy it is to get sidetracked with a problem such as this. My wife had a Nova in the 80s and a vibration started similar to a wheel being out of balance.
After balancing and checking with no success I eventually changed the front dampers and the problem was cured.
However a few years after, exactly the same symptoms came up again and knowing the problem from before I went out and bought 2 new dampers and replaced them.
What a waste of £50.00 as it made absolutely no difference.
Took the rear wheels off and there was a flat on one of them exactly as I described before reference the Vectra. This was the problem and a new tyre fixed it.
I always make visual checks of the tyres regularly, but do find that when they are on the car its not a very efficient way and they really need taking off and making a close inspection, running your hand over the treads to do it properly.
I?m sure you know all this Ben but we can get taken in by ignoring the obvious.

Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - Ben F
Thanks a lot for the advice Alvin - sorry I've taken a while to reply. I'll have a look at the shocks next time I jack it up and see if there's anything there.

I also know what you mean about getting sidetracked, especially when something such as wheel vibration can be caused by so many different things. I was vaguely hoping that someone might have had this exact problem before and would be able to tell me what it was straight away - that's not at all to play down the very useful and considered advice that the various experts on this board have very kindly given me.

The vibration is by no means excessive and I can live with it and don't wish to spend lots of money trying to get it sorted when the car is worth so little. At the same time, the car is in very good condition and is otherwise perfect and very cheap to run now it's on LPG and so I would like to get it sorted out. I think maybe a really good inspection by the Vauxhall garage wouldn't be money wasted, the car will need new front tyres soon anyway and possibly disks and hopefully somewhere in there the problem will be cured.

Thanks again to everyone for all the advice.

Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - Victorbox
Having had a bad vibration problem suddenly appear on my Cavalier early in 2002 (anything above 60 mph) I put up with it for 12 months thinking it could be anything from drive shaft joints, warped discs to a worn bottom arm joint. I think most Vauxhall dealers will try to convince you to change everything and anything in search of a cure. In my case a pair of new front tyres properly balanced cured the vibration immediately (the aged rubber had probably gone out of shape) and as you say you are due to replace your tyres soon I would go this route first before the dealer inspection. At least with a Cavalier things like brake discs are cheap especially if you don't go to a Vauxhall dealer or get to know someone with a Vauxhall Trade Club card.
Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - alqueen
the lower front suspension arms [pans?] are a little less than rigid when not brand-new.....if the originals, are they flat?...sometimes folk quickly shove a jack under them, and certainly if they are original, they may well bend slightly....which can lead to vibrations at around 68-78 mph....'cause the geometry has been put out!.......check the front edge, where the flange is, see if it's straight?.....they are less than £30 each side to replace, and not difficult!....Usually replaced when rubbers are pulling away from the bushes.....

Where does the DIY gas kit come from?...Sounds intriguing!
Cavalier steering vibration (again!) - Ben F
Just a little update on this one - thank you for your comments by the way, Victorbox and alqueen.

Discovered a couple of weeks ago that one my my driveshafts was ticking on full lock (noticed due to hot weather and having the window open etc. as I wouldn't normally hear it) and so took it to my mechanic friend who decided it was the driver's side outer CV joint and replaced it. This was last week and it got rid of the ticking but actually seemed to make the vibration worse, oh dear!

He did suggest though that the tie-rod ends were quite worn (as you suggested they might be, Tony) and replaced these today, also noticing that the driver's side wheel seemed to be lacking a balance weight. After being tracked-up and having the wheel rebalanced I took the car for a spin and - hooray! - the vibration seems to have gone.

A bit of a mystery about the balance weight which I think could have been disturbed last week taking the wheel cover off to do the CV joint and then fallen off very shortly afterwards (it was definitely there before!), hence worsening the vibration. The problem originally started after the front shocks were changed and my friend said that it looked like they'd disonnected the tie rods using a ball joint separator (instead of a couple of blows with a hammer which he demonstrated today) which he reckoned had split the rubber covers and possibly worsened the wear on them.

No idea why the problem originally came and went with taking the wheels on and off and was also affected by wheel bolt tightness - just keeping my fingers crossed that it won't come back again!

Oh, and as to my LPG conversion, I could bore everyone senseless with that it required, but I think it would be better to start another thread if anyone's interested.

Anyway, many thanks again to everyone for their advice on this problem - it's much appreciated.


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