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Question DetailsAsked on 10/14/2013

What causes a car to shake and shimmy at high speeds?

I am trying to buy a used car for my 16 year old son. We test drove a 1998 Toyota Corolla, 4 cylinder. It tested ok, except when we were at 50 MPH or higher. I could especially see it looking at the steering wheel. It has 110, 800miles on it, and the car facts shows 2 previous owners, no car accidents. Is this a show stopper? Misalignment? Frame damage? Just needs new tires?

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1 Answer


You were on the right track - could be seriously needs front end alignment, could have worn out tierod ends or ball joints, could have constant velocity or universal joints going out on drive lines, bad struts or shocks, shot wheel bearing, could be tires need balancing, bent axle, could be frame damage. My first guess would be tire balance, particularly with the only at high speed issue - which only costs about $15/tire, but more serious items could run $1000 or more to repair. If only tire balancing, the tires are probably cupping - see image here -

To get it inspected and get an estimate of repair costs, Search the List (in green banner bar) for an Auto Repair shop - you might google for front end and alignment shops and then check their reviews on Angie's List. Go to a serious repair shop or Toyota dealer, not just a Midas or Jiffy Lube or something like that. I would have them do a once-over on the entire car, including checking all fluids for signs of dseterioration or sludge or metal pieces. However, likely to cost you $50-100 for evaluation, which you might or might not be able to convince them to apply to the repair cost if you decide to buy it.

Another alternative, if you are not inclined to the full inspection route, is tell hiim you will buy it only if the shimmy is fixed - and let him pay to find out qwhast the problem is.

Not knowing what the problem is, I would call it a show stopper unless you get it looked at - a 15 year old car with $110,000 miles should not be hard to find another car instead.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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