If your rear tire wobbles when driving even slightly, take your car to a mechanic immediately. This applies to your front tires as well, although those are rarer.
If any tire starts wobbling, it is a serious safety issue. First of all, the biggest concern is losing control of your vehicle at high speeds and causing accidents.
Even if that’s not the case, prolonged driving on wobbling tires can damage wheels, suspension components like the track bar, or even the rear axle.
Anyways, it is always a good idea to identify the cause and fix the problem before it causes any permanent damage to your car.
That being said, let us examine the most common cause for vehicle wobbles and how we can fix it.
Why causes tire wobble?
This can be due to various reasons. Causes can range from grave issues such as a bent wheel to smaller problems like bad alignment or flat-spotted tires. Most times the problem is not immediately obvious upon inspection of the tires.
That is why it is crucial to take your car to a mechanic.
Some of the most common causes are:
Wheel Alignment: Alignment problems are common in most cases. They are due to accidents or a lack of car maintenance. Regardless of whether it is a rear-wheel or front-wheel-drive car, any alignment problems can get exaggerated over time and cause your vehicle to wobble.
Bent Wheel: This one is obvious. A severely bent wheel will cause the tires to wobble. But even if it is slightly bent, you should be able to feel a wobble in the wheel while driving at highway speeds. So it is recommended to get an immediate wheel change.
Tire Balance: Wheel balancing is super important after a wheel or tire change. Uneven tire balance can cause irregular tire wear causing the vehicle to slowly wobble over time.
Tire Wear: Uneven wear of the tire treads can also cause tire wobble. A damaged tread block can also lead to tire failure if it is not replaced in time.
Warped Brake Rotors: Most wheels have a disc brake these days and a damaged wheel hub or worn out brake pads can lead to the brake rotors being damaged. This can sometimes cause wheels to wobble as well.
What causes wobbling at lower speeds?
If your car feels wobbly when driving slow, it is most likely a bad tire or wheel.
Flat spots generally won’t cause wobble at low speeds, but a damaged tire or a bent wheel will definitely cause it.
A good rule is if the tire wear shows, it is probably time for you to get new tires.
Another reason can be the misalignment of the tires. If your four-wheel alignment is even slightly off, it will cause wobble at low speed.
What causes wobbling at higher speeds?
All the factors that cause wobbles at lower speeds also cause them at higher speeds.
A damaged tire or a flat spot on the tread will exaggerate the wobble at these speeds. Tire balance and alignment also become more pronounced at highway speeds.
Will a bad wheel bearing cause wheel wobble?
The short answer to this question is, yes! Bad wheel bearings can lead to wheel wobble, especially at a higher speed range.
It is usually a sign of more extensive damage in the wheel hub. It will cause the steering wheel to shake, and the intensity will go up as speed increases.
In such cases, even slightly turning the steering wheel can lead to a loss of control.
Why does rear tire wobble happen more often to pickup trucks?
Rear wobble is indeed more common among pickup trucks. This is one of the inherent vehicle design issues of pickups.
A pickup truck is made to carry heavy loads from point A to B.
That’s why it is designed with very little weight on its rear axle. Almost all the mass of an unloaded pickup truck is on its front wheels. This design allows a pickup to carry a lot of weights on its rear.
But at the same time, if it is driven without any weight, it is easy to destabilize the rear.
Due to this nature, even small issues with the rear wheels can get magnified quite quickly. Poor road conditions can also cause the rear end of a pickup to wobble, especially at high speeds.
Therefore, pickup owners use rear ballast weights like sandbags, water, tools, etc. to pin down the rear to the road.
How do you fix a wobbly rear?
There are various ways to fix a wobbly rear, and the solution will totally depend on the problem. As mentioned earlier in the article, the exact cause of a wobble is not always obvious after a simple visual check.
That is why it is important to have a mechanic look at it and perform a thorough check.
As mentioned above, flat spots, cupping, separated tire, damage to the steel cords, and other extensive tread damage will also cause wobble. The only way to repair such issues is to get your tires replaced by a tire shop.
It is never safe to drive around on damaged tires as it can exacerbate the issue and cause more problems later on than just a wobble.
Wheels can often get damaged if you are not careful over a bumpy surface. You may also sustain wheel damage if you drive around on a bad tire.
The only solution is to get the whole wheel replaced at the earliest. Driving around with a damaged wheel is a recipe for disaster, and it’s just a matter of time when a wobble turns into a full-blown accident.
A bad wheel alignment is probably the number one reason why most cars wobble. In such a case, you will only be able to drive your car over a short distance before causing some permanent damage.
So it is recommended to get your alignment checked and fixed by a qualified technician. A good rule to follow is to get your vehicle aligned every time you get your car serviced.
A common problem that can similarly cause wobble to misalignment. Wheels mostly become unbalanced due to damage on the tire tread, also known as Cupping.
In such cases, one tread block on the tire will be raised, while the next row will most likely be smoothed out, and the row after will be raised again. The fix is usually to get that tire replaced immediately.
And if the cupping is extensive, maybe even the wheel.
But tire replacement can also lead to balancing issues, causing your car to wobble. A brand new tire will be very different from your existing set and thus might be unbalanced and cause wobbles.
So it doesn’t matter if you are replacing the front tires or the rear tires it is always a good idea to get your wheel balanced on a road force balancer after a replacement.
Very rare in occurrence but can happen. It is usually a sign of more extensive damage to the wheel hub. So it would be a great idea to get your entire wheel assembly examined if this is the cause of your car shakes.
Again, a very uncommon cause behind your car wobble, but it can happen. The only fix is to get your brake rotors or calipers replaced, depending on the damage.
We believe we have pretty much covered all the possible reasons for why wheels wobble and how to fix them.
However, if these don’t explain your current woes, we recommend you check out our older post which may be more specified to your car’s make and model. Some cars require unique considerations, and the solution might be different than what is mentioned in this article.
Always consider a mechanic first before making any decisions.
Just remember, wheel wobble is a serious safety issue, and it will lead to an obvious dip in your vehicle’s overall performance. So do not ignore even the slight wheel wobble and get it checked immediately.
This will not only keep you and everyone else on the road safe but also save you from a more expensive repair down the road.