Car Wobbles at Low Speeds and Vibrates at High Speeds – What’s Wrong?

QuestionsCategory: Ask An ExpertCar Wobbles at Low Speeds and Vibrates at High Speeds – What’s Wrong?
Alexander Linda Williams asked 6 months ago
I'm experiencing a perplexing issue with my 2012 Mazda Mazda5. At low speeds, particularly between 10 to 15 mph, my car seems to wobble as if driving over a wavy road, giving a sensation of the rear half twisting. This issue becomes less noticeable above 15 mph. However, at speeds exceeding 55 mph, I notice a slight side-to-side vibration in the steering wheel and visible shaking of the rear seat headrests. I've recently had my tires rebalanced and an oil change, where a basic inspection was conducted without any notable concerns. There are no unusual sounds suggesting tire damage or rubbing. Could this be due to a warped tire or another issue?
1 Answers
Zack Norman Staff answered 6 months ago
Hi there, Alexander! Your situation with the Mazda5 is a problematic one and one that could prove hazardous if it's not diagnosed and fixed soon. The wobbling at low speeds and vibration at high speeds could have several potential causes. Here are some possibilities:
  1. Bent Wheel or Broken Tire Belt: A bent wheel or a break in the tire's internal belt can cause wobbling and vibration. This is more noticeable at certain speeds due to the dynamics of the tire rotation.
  2. Unbalanced Tires: Although you've had them rebalanced, it's possible that the issue wasn't fully resolved or another wheel is out of balance.
  3. Suspension or Steering Components: Worn lateral bushings, control arm bushings, or other steering/suspension parts could be contributing to the problem.
  4. Ply Separation: This is a condition where the layers within the tire start separating, leading to uneven tire surfaces and wobbling.
  5. Motor Mounts: Sometimes overlooked, worn motor mounts can cause vibrations that may be mistaken for tire or wheel issues.
Given the complexity, it's advisable to have a professional mechanic examine your vehicle. They can perform a more thorough inspection, perhaps checking each tire for 'ply separation' by slowly rotating them on a jack and looking for any 'blip' or shift in the tread. Also, ensuring that all lug nuts are correctly torqued is crucial for safety. In your case, it turned out to be a warped tire on the passenger side rear. Replacing this tire resolved the issue, although a slight vibration at high speeds suggests an alignment might still be necessary. Drive safe and feel free to reach out for any further advice! Zack - Motor Verso Mechanics Team