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Classic/Antique Car Repair/Steering wheel wobble at high speed


I have a 39 Ford with a stock suspension,except for modern type shocks front and rear.  I am looking for some advice that would cause my front end to shake. I had the tires balanced years ago and had a front end alignment years  go also. As the tires are old would flat spot cause the vibration at high speeds only or would the steering wheel shake at a lower speed also?

I also grabbed  the front tire from the top and pulled it toward me ( while car was on the ground ) and I can feel slight movement from both front tires, I have not checked the wheel bearings ,but my thinking is that the wheel bearing need to be tightened only. I do not believe the Bearing are bad. Would having a very slight wobble ( when I pull on the top of the  front tires ) cause the steering wheel to shake at high speed?  Having the front end aligned and the front wheels balanced along with the rear wheel balanced years ago cause the shake. I do not put a lot of mileage on the car and do not drive erratically since I had those procedure done years ago. Possible they never aligned it correctly or balanced the tires correctly years ago?

As I read this red flags popped up all over the page. So lets see if we can sort this out. Lets start with balance. A wheel out of balance will not be detected at low speeds, and will increase as the road speed is increased. Most balance problems will not be felt until the rotating speed of the wheel increases to a point that centrifugal force builds up and causes the wheel to hop. Now that said flat spots on the tire from sitting or defect in the tire will start as soon as the tire rolls. On older tires it is possible that there is a bubble or bulge on at tires side wall. This will cause the tire to shake as well. But again this will usually be felt at very low speeds and increase as speed increases. Looseness in the steering and suspension can cause a wobble or shaking of the wheels but again this will be more speed sensitive and not effect low speed operation. Alignment will cause the car to pull to one side or the other and usually show up in tire wear but not shaking.  

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Brad Sears


All automotive including antique and collectible. However if the car has been modified I can only answer in general terms and maybe get you pointed in the right direction.


Automotive tech instructor. Syndicated auto columnist 1970's though the early 1990's. Syndicated auto radio talk show, Ask Brad About cars, CBS Radio 70's through 90's TV Show "Last Chance Garage" 1980's PBS-TV syndicated. Auto instructor for the following companies: Fram Autolyte Holly Carter AMF Ford Motor University Of Conn Blue Hills Technical School Sugar River Technical Center Grew up in a family garage in Needham Mass and turned wrenches from the age of 14.

Manchester Union Leader, Nashua Telegraph, Motor Service Magazine, Yankee Magazine, Popular Mechanics (Saturday Mechanic early 80's), Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and lots more.

More than I care to remember. Basically Franklin Technical Institute in Boston, Northeastern University, Fitchburg State Teachers College, Tufts University, and a lot of factory schools along the way.

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Moto Award winner. And much more.

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