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Old 02-23-2009, 06:27 PM   #1
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Default 02 Civic DX front end vibrating/wobbling

Sorry for the long message, i'm trying to be as descriptive as possible in order to get the proper help. The problem is described in detail in bold if you do not want to read the full story. Bold italicized is the problem itself, just the rest of the bold is extra information that has attributes to the problem.

A few months ago me and my father replaced my brake pads on my car. He suggested that the rotors be replaced as well but because money was tight we did not replace them. The new brake pads were duralast pads from autozone, installed fine etc.

After a few weeks of driving on these new brakes the front end started shaking between 40-65MPH mostly on the driverside, could be felt through the brake pedal, steering wheel, and gas pedal somewhat, at highway speeds in the vibration zone, when going around either a right or left curve the vibration almost immediately subsides and returns as the car straightens out, bumps worsen the vibration; also, it sounds like wobbling at low speeds upto the vibration zone, normal acceleration, deceleration, braking all have same effect and don't change the characteristics of the vibration except extremely hard braking at high speeds which i don't do often, just did to try to make sure its not the rotors, braking hard seems to lessen the vibration, when at low speeds (less than 5-10MPH) while braking, if I pulsate the pedal (press in, let go, press in, etc) the brakes make a clunking noise right behind the steering column (found out its the brake booster making the noise when i had the car on jackstands I had my friend press the brakes and let go) extremely fast acceleration upto 70 seems to sometimes completely bypass the vibration until i decelerate down to below 70 and the vibration starts again, the vibration does not make the car any less stable for driving but is constant at the speeds above 30 and is least at 70, above 70 around 80-90 the vibration can be felt but not as bad as below 65, vibration is worst between 40-55mph; I figured of course that it was because of the brake rotors warping; however, I continued driving the car in this condition because of financial problems (didn't have a job).

Finally after a few months of driving it this way, and getting a new job, I bought new Valuecraft brake rotors from autozone and replaced the rotors, keeping the still new pads at the guidance of a friend who owns a auto repair shop (I called and asked if I could just put the new rotors on and not need new brake pads, the manager at autozone suggested I'd need new pads, and although that is a safety measure for anyone that can afford it I knew it was just a sales pitch because i've worked there before).

-What I've done to alleviate the problem-
I have rotated the tires to rule out a balancing issue, checked the balljoints for torn boots/leaking grease and looseness, as well as the CV axles on both sides for worn/torn/leaking boots. All of those parts are clean, in good condition, and nothing seems loose by trying to move the tire up and down or left and right. The only problem with the driverside as best I could tell with what i know is the
strut, the rubber piece is completely torn, and it looks like the hydralic fluid that was in it has leaked out, but the shock still seems to be okay when i shove that side of the car down it springs back and stabilizes about as quickly as the passenger side. I have also bled the front brakes just to do it,I know i didn't have to, but i did it anyway to just see if it would help. The brake fluid was brownish like it was burned, so it kinda made me want to drain and put new fluid in, but i didn't just added. None of the brake components have needed repair since i've owned the car, and i'm the second owner. Car has over 100k on the odometer, shaking started about 60k-70k i think, i got the car with 42k on the odometer about 3-4 years ago. I have babied it since i have owned it until my finances started going down the tube. Oil changes with full synthetic, tune ups, etc. Car is stock as far as i know except for the honda in-dash cd player my dad put in after i took apart and broke the tape player version that came with the car, that and the large aftermarket battery cable end, looks like it was meant for an amplifier. I have read many forum posts about similar vibrations, including the FAQ here, and searched google several times for help with this, and this is my first post on any forum. I just want to make sure its the wheel bearing before i spend money on it. Car was recently (before first brake pad replacement i think) aligned at SEARS along with four new tires and balance. The only problem with the alignment was the camber bolt on the driverside that i was told needed replacement, after the alignment the car pulls very slightly to the left, not hard to deal with or anything, just a minor inconvenience, its been a few thousand miles since then. I have not replaced the camber bolt, although its only like 8$ oem from honda. Can't find aftermarket thats specific to my car. I am not sure what to look for unless a camber kit is what i need for that. I am way more interested in solving the vibration problem. Anytime i've tried to alleviate the problem, at first the vibration is lessoned but comes back still. I have tightened the lug nuts in the criss cross pattern (4 lug) while its in the air, i've done it by hand and tightened as tight as i felt it needed without breaking the stud, on another occasion, after rotating the tires, i was using a impact gun to tighten them.

Please Please Please for the love of whatever you think is most high, Please help.
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Old 02-23-2009, 07:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: 02 Civic DX Need Help Pin-Pointing problem Please Tired of this

Quote:
Originally Posted by *skittles View Post
After a few weeks of driving on these new brakes the front end started shaking between 40-65MPH mostly on the driverside, could be felt through the brake pedal, steering wheel, and gas pedal somewhat, at highway speeds in the vibration zone, when going around either a right or left curve the vibration almost immediately subsides and returns as the car straightens out, bumps worsen the vibration; also, it sounds like wobbling at low speeds upto the vibration zone, normal acceleration, deceleration, braking all have same effect and don't change the characteristics of the vibration except extremely hard braking at high speeds which i don't do often, just did to try to make sure its not the rotors, braking hard seems to lessen the vibration, when at low speeds (less than 5-10MPH) while braking, if I pulsate the pedal (press in, let go, press in, etc) the brakes make a clunking noise right behind the steering column (found out its the brake booster making the noise when i had the car on jackstands I had my friend press the brakes and let go) extremely fast acceleration upto 70 seems to sometimes completely bypass the vibration until i decelerate down to below 70 and the vibration starts again, the vibration does not make the car any less stable for driving but is constant at the speeds above 30 and is least at 70, above 70 around 80-90 the vibration can be felt but not as bad as below 65, vibration is worst between 40-55mph; I figured of course that it was because of the brake rotors warping; however, I continued driving the car in this condition because of financial problems (didn't have a job).
This is an incredibly difficult passage to read. Please use more punctuation next time, as it's nearly impossible to tell what words are included with which sentences.


As for solutions, I would take a look at the wheel bearings to see if they're the problem of the vibration. Also, take a look at your compliance bushings on the lower control arms to see if they are torn (the compliance bushing is nearest the front of the car).
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Old 02-23-2009, 08:59 PM   #3
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Default Re: 02 Civic DX Need Help Pin-Pointing problem Please Tired of this

I can't see the wheel bearings being bad for 30k+ miles and have not gotten worse and only causing some vibration...

So let me get this right you replaced pads and the problem started, then replaced rotors and now your here and still have the same problem.

And I'm assuming you've checked all brake components for tightness and proper fitting? When the tires are on and tight you can't move anything up in there(I'm talking check everything, pads caliper, rotor, steering linkage, the whole nine yards)?

By the way you describe it I would imagine its something in the brake system... But that's going by what I'm getting out of your story.
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Old 02-23-2009, 09:13 PM   #4
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Default Re: 02 Civic DX Need Help Pin-Pointing problem Please Tired of this

Have you taken the tire off and grabbed the rotor to shake it and check all your sway bar, links, ball joints all that fun stuff. If its as bad as you say it is I would think you should be able to "jiggle" enough stuff to either visually see something that's not right or recreate the problem and somethin unusual
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Old 02-23-2009, 09:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: 02 Civic DX Need Help Pin-Pointing problem Please Tired of this

Why didnt you just change the brake pads at the same time you installed the new rotors, don't they have lifetime warranty?
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Old 02-24-2009, 09:44 AM   #6
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Default Re: 02 Civic DX Need Help Pin-Pointing problem Please Tired of this

The problem is the vibration between 40-65mph, being at its worst around 55. The rotors are secured by those two impact screws onto the hub. The brake caliper is solid. The car brakes smoothly, i just can feel vibration through the steering wheel and the pedal. I would figure that the wheel bearing is worn out and causing the hub to move and 'wobble' the brake rotor against the pads (causing back pressure to the power brake booster); hence the noise from the brake booster. That's my diagnosis, anyway.

I have had to replace broken CV axles on other honda vehicles that I've driven that gave similar symptoms... but my axles look and feel extremely well; on top of that, when at highway speeds and when I take curves (left or right) the vibration subsides even in between 40-65mph. All of the other suspension components are clean, free from debris/oil/grease, and do not look damaged. When the problem first started, it was just all of a sudden.


thanks

Also, thanks matt, someone had said something about uca's, compliance bushings, etc in another post but i had no idea what they were referring to on the vehicle. Those look in good condition and are not torn.

Last edited by *skittles; 02-24-2009 at 10:35 AM.
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Old 02-24-2009, 10:33 AM   #7
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Default Re: 02 Civic DX Need Help Pin-Pointing problem Please Tired of this

Is there a loud "roaring" type noise as well....

My 05 civic had a loud noise and a lot of vibration in the mph's you're describing...

My wheel bearing started going bad at like 30,000 miles, and I replaced at like 45,000

It got progressively worse, I was very lucky I didn't lock up my wheel bearing...

I would guess it's the wheel bearing. I got mine from auto zone for like 70 bucks, and called around and found a shop that would do the install for like 70 bucks. Most others wanted 100 plus...After the install, good as new...

good luck, I hope you get it fixed soon
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Old 02-24-2009, 10:43 AM   #8
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Default Re: 02 Civic DX Need Help Pin-Pointing problem Please Tired of this

It doesn't make any roaring noises, but it has started the wobbling noise at anything above 10mph. I've been driving it in this condition for tens of thousands of miles, i'm surprised it hasn't locked up either...god bless Honda.

Last edited by *skittles; 02-24-2009 at 10:57 AM.
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:11 PM   #9
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Default Re: 02 Civic DX Need Help Pin-Pointing problem Please Tired of this

Quote:
Originally Posted by *skittles View Post
The problem is the vibration between 40-65mph, being at its worst around 55. The rotors are secured by those two impact screws onto the hub. The brake caliper is solid. The car brakes smoothly, i just can feel vibration through the steering wheel and the pedal. I would figure that the wheel bearing is worn out and causing the hub to move and 'wobble' the brake rotor against the pads (causing back pressure to the power brake booster); hence the noise from the brake booster. That's my diagnosis, anyway.

I have had to replace broken CV axles on other honda vehicles that I've driven that gave similar symptoms... but my axles look and feel extremely well; on top of that, when at highway speeds and when I take curves (left or right) the vibration subsides even in between 40-65mph. All of the other suspension components are clean, free from debris/oil/grease, and do not look damaged. When the problem first started, it was just all of a sudden.


thanks

Also, thanks matt, someone had said something about uca's, compliance bushings, etc in another post but i had no idea what they were referring to on the vehicle. Those look in good condition and are not torn.

Have you checked your motor mounts? There have been a few instances where the bushings in those have blown out.
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:22 PM   #10
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Default Re: 02 Civic DX Need Help Pin-Pointing problem Please Tired of this

Are you sure that would cause the vibration through the steering wheel? It feels like the vibration originates from the wheel or at least in that general area.

I took a few pictures of the lower control arm bushing you talked about. I'll post it shortly. I also double checked the components for anything that was loose and everything is tight.
I took a little video of me shaking things too but i probably won't post it because it seems irrevelant, except maybe for the footage of the strut.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:05 PM   #11
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Default Re: 02 Civic DX Need Help Pin-Pointing problem Please Tired of this

I called my mechanic friend and he agreed to test drive it tomorrow to see what it wrong with it. I'll let you know the result.
Also, here is the bushing.
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 02-24-2009, 06:06 PM   #12
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Default Re: 02 Civic DX Need Help Pin-Pointing problem Please Tired of this

If you think its the wheel bearing then you should have jacked the car up and checked for wobble on the wheel. If its got no free play when you move is up/down,side to side then move on cause its not the problem.

Sorry, but sounds like a bad axle to me. Just because the boots look ok, doesn't mean the CV is good.

You need to change your shocks if the fluid leaked out!
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Old 02-25-2009, 06:43 PM   #13
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Default Re: 02 Civic DX Need Help Pin-Pointing problem Please Tired of this

This may seem kind of silly but did you get the rotor on straight (or square would be more appropriate), the ideal thing to do would be to jack the car up and turn the wheels and see what you notice...

Like I said earlier, I don't see it being a bearing problem. If it was a bearing your going to be getting some noise on top of the shaking, and a bad bearing more than likely will not last that many miles.
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Old 02-25-2009, 10:12 PM   #14
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Default Re: 02 Civic DX Need Help Pin-Pointing problem Please Tired of this

Quote:
Originally Posted by thinknology View Post
This may seem kind of silly but did you get the rotor on straight (or square would be more appropriate), the ideal thing to do would be to jack the car up and turn the wheels and see what you notice...

Like I said earlier, I don't see it being a bearing problem. If it was a bearing your going to be getting some noise on top of the shaking, and a bad bearing more than likely will not last that many miles.
It's true a wheel bearing "should" be giving a loud noise, but I drove on a bad wheel bearing for 15000 miles...

I know I was stupid for it, but I did it non the less...
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:45 AM   #15
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Default Re: 02 Civic DX front end vibrating/wobbling

The mechanic that inpected and test drove my vehicle did not find ANY problem with how the rotor was mounted. He did not find any problem with how tight and stabilized the suspension components were. All the balljoints, the rotor, brake caliper, the brake pads, the struts and the CV axles were good. Due to this he repeated a few times "This cannot be." After shaking the steering wheel back and forth and watching the steering gear for any movement he found that the slider on the steering gear was moving up and down and seemed loose. That was the only problem he could find. He suggested getting a second opinion from another mechanic that worked solely with import vehicles. His diagnosis was that the piece that slides on the steering gear that is connected to the tie rod ends is loose and this is causing the vibration at least in the steering wheel and that at 70 or when I take curves on the highway that this is putting the tires in a bind that is making the steering gear tight causing the vibration to subside until the vehicle becomes straight again. He was quite conerned with the noises he heard though because it sounded like something was about to fall out from underneath the car. His thoughts at first without taking the wheel off were that it was a bad brake job. He thought it would've been a wheel bearing or the cv axles except that everything was tight and did not move, no clicking from the cv axles etc.
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Old 02-27-2009, 08:31 PM   #16
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Default Re: 02 Civic DX front end vibrating/wobbling

I feel the need to restate my first post in order to further clarify the current condition of the problem.

-List of Symptoms-

1. Wobbling noise and Vibration of which the majority feels behind the steering or drivers side hub/strut area.

2. Vibration worst in between highway speeds of 40 to 65mph.

3. At any speed if appying light pressure on the brake pedal it amplifies the wobbling vibration noise. (This noise sounds horrible, as if something is going to fall out from the wheel area. Made Mechanic think it was a bad brake job. Sounded like the rotor was "slapping".)

4. Heavy braking seems to lessen severity of wobbling vibration but is still present. Not really felt through pedal, its more of a noise at this point.

5. Problem sometimes intermittent. Unable to explain this. If my left wheel drops into something like a large smooth gradient pothole or I drive at an angle into sharp incline (like into a gas station parking lot) the entire problem seems to not exist for a period of at least 20 or more miles and then returns. Unable to replicate this fix to verify that.

6. Steering wheel not shaking violently at the highway speeds and car's handling and stability doesn't seem hindered by the problem.

7. Car was test driven and inspected by a mechanic. He tested the brakes, drove the car in a circle for the axles, checked for damaged/worn suspension components like the ball joints, strut, and bushings. Checked for bad wheel bearing by testing for movement up/down and side to side of the wheel. All brake components like the caliper and rotor were tight and no bolts were missing or loose, brake pads are contacting the rotor and there is no gap or angle. Motor mounts were not in a bind or torn. While the car was on a hydraulic lift I was asked to put the car into first and let out the clutch. This did not yield any movement of the hub. I also tried this in second gear and had also revved the car up to get the wheel to move fast enough to try to replicate the 'wobbling' noise and vibration. I also depressed the brake pedal while the wheels were turning, this did not replicate any problems either. Finally after yanking the wheel back and forth it was found that there was sloppiness in the steering gear (Rack and Pinion) at the point where the tie rod ends attached to the rack. The compenent in question seemed loose as it moved up/down and left/right when it is only supposed to move left/right in a straight line as told to me by Larry the mechanic. However after all this he suggested to obtain a second opinion from a reputable import auto shop that may know otherwise what the root of the problem is.

Here is an image of the component in question circled on the Rack and Pinion Steering Gear.

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 02-27-2009, 08:41 PM   #17
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Default Re: 02 Civic DX front end vibrating/wobbling

I would like Honda-Techs' Members' thoughts on whether or not this could be causing this problem and suggestion for replacement, repair, or perhaps just adjustment of the steering gear.

If replacement is suggested, is there another model of vehicle whose rack and pinion I could exchange as a better steering gear solution? I notice that in alot of other vehicles that the tie rod ends are directly attached to arms that are on the sides of the rack and pinion rather than attached to a sliding component. Here is an example.
Click the image to open in full size.

Also, would anyone be so kind as to send me or post (if possible), page scans of the procedure of replacement from a service manual like Helminc? I only know of chilton manuals and they only tell so much.
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Old 05-25-2009, 12:52 PM   #18
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Default Re: 02 Civic DX front end vibrating/wobbling

Hi! My 2002 Civic has just about the same symptoms yours has. I originally took it in to get the motor mounts and the front struts replaced. About a month later the vibration started. I thought it was the brakes grinding, but I realized the grinding was a vibration. It continued to get worse and was also worse when backing up and when the AC was on. I took it back to the shop and they replaced the motor mount by the transmission AGAIN because the last one they gave me was cracked. It still vibrates. They are now going to order factory motor mounts instead of the cheaper ones. So we'll see what happens.

Long story short, have someone check the motor mounts.

OH and my front struts are new and the steering components were checked and are fine. My brakes probably aren't the greatest, but I don't think they would be causing that much of a problem.
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