2004 Toyota Sienna Steering wheel shaking

Tiny
MSACHTLEBEN
  • MEMBER
  • 2004 TOYOTA SIENNA
  • 6 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 96,000 MILES
My sienna has had issues with severe steering wheel shaking. Especially at speeds of 35-40 mph. Recently I took the car to the Toyota dealership and they diagnosed it as bad tires and it wouldn't hurt to get an alignment. When I took the van to another tire dealer for new tires (the front tires were significantly worn on the outer edges) the rep told me that it probably was not an alignment issue. He agreed with the Toyota rep that I needed two new tires on the front. He also asked if I had been rotating the tires regularly, which I admitted I had not been very good at tracking or having this done.

My question then: Is this a case of bad tires or did the Toyota service guy overlook something? I have read on your website about ball joint wear and the Idler arms and tie rods. Could this be the problem? What should my next steps be in getting this van as safe as possible and so my tires do not continue to wear out at such a rapid pace?

Thanks for your help.

Matt
Friday, July 17th, 2009 AT 1:08 PM

3 Replies

Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • MECHANIC
  • 41,815 POSTS
Hi Matt,

Thank you for the donation.

If the tire wears were scuppered, it could be due to the items that you mentioned or bad struts.

To ensure the problem is reduced, it is recommended to get the linkages, bushing and alignment checked

Scheduled rotation is advised and the recommendation is 6 k miles.
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Friday, July 17th, 2009 AT 1:40 PM
Tiny
JRREABE
  • MEMBER
  • 1 POST
My daughter has a 06 sienna with 100k miles. She complains of the fro t end being wobbly at 30 mph and again at hwy speeds. Tires are 7 years old but evenly worn with 1/4 of tread left. I jacked up the left front tire and ran it at a low speed and the car shook side to side. My though was CV joint binding on the left drive shaft. I repeated with right front wheel and it was normal. In addition to new tires, what is your thoughts.
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Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 AT 5:42 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • MECHANIC
  • 33,723 POSTS
What you did eliminates the tire as a suspect, and it does leave the inner CV joint. Most commonly you'll feel the steering wheel shake when turning and accelerating, as in when turning onto a street from a parking lot. The high torque causes the rollers in the inner joint to bind as they roll into and out of worn areas in the housing, and turning increases the distance those rollers move back and forth. At higher speeds this is usually less noticeable because the torque is relatively lower and the rollers can roll easier, and they're rolling faster. Think of the pendulum on a grandfather's clock. It has one speed it likes to swing at. Same with the engine and transmission. It has one speed it likes to shake back and forth at. At around 30 - 32 mph, the CV joint binds as it rotates at the same speed the engine likes to shake at, so it's more pronounced. When it binds, the shaft doesn't want to change length and angle freely, so it pushes and pulls on the spindle, and the spindle is attached to the steering linkage.

My suggestion is to just replace the entire half shaft assembly. The first problem is verifying the housing is worn is extremely difficult. You have to pull the joint apart, clean out the grease, then run your finger over the highly-polished rolling surfaces. If you feel the slightest irregularities, you really have junk. Most of the time they'll feel fine, then you have to clean off all the grease residue, then shine a light in there and look at those surfaces. You will see a very slight wave in the reflection, similar to looking at the dandy custom body work on a car where the grass reflects off it at a car show. Those reflections are often the only way to see any imperfections in the car, and the same is true for the CV joint housing.

The second problem is the replacement housing is usually only available from the dealer, and will be horribly expensive. A complete new joint from an auto parts store will cost a lot less, but considering the work and mess involved, new half shafts today are really inexpensive and the best value. A new shaft for my old Grand Caravan cost only $64.00 a few years ago. You can find rebuilt half shafts too, but then you run the risk of the rebuilder overlooking the same problem on the shaft you're getting. Those used to be a good deal until the cost of brand new ones came down so much.
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Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 AT 3:58 PM

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