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Questions and Answers

Toyota Wheel Wobble

Q. Hi Vince, hope you can help me out with this problem I have with my 1983 Toyota Supra. I have noticed a shimmy (fairly severe) over the last several months and has gotten much worse this week. I had a friend lean out the window and look at the front right tire assembly, and he could visibly see the tire wobbling slightly.

The steering wheel shakes bad. I'm thinking its either the tie rod ends, or ball joints?? How can I determine which it is? Also when I put on the brakes it seems like the whole front end is going to shake apart. Sometimes I will hit a bump in the road and it seems to correct the shimmy for a short distance?? Any help would be appreciated.

Also how difficult is it to put new tie rod ends or ball joints on this particular car?? Need to keep it off the street until I get it fixed!!! Don't think it's safe to drive so any advice will help.

Thanks again,

A. It is possible that the tie rods and/or ball joints are loose or worn out. It is also possible you have a bent wheel or a bad tire. The easiest way to determine that is to rotate the front wheels to the rear and the rear wheels to the front. If the problems goes away, you know it's the tire and or wheel. If it is still present, then you have a steering problem and it needs to be checked out.

If it is the tie rods or ball joints, either one is fairly simple to change. To replace the tie rod end remove the cotter pin and nut from the steering knuckle and using a separator, pop the tie rod end out of the knuckle. Crack the lock nut loose and turn the tie rod end of. Be sure to count the number of turns so you can install the new one on the same number of turns.

Install the new tie rod end and tighten th lock nut. Place the other end into the steering knuckle and tighten the nut. Install a new cotter pin and the grease fitting (if it comes with one) and that's it.

The ball joint is part of the lower control arm so you replace the whole control arm. Just remove the old control arm, it has a nut and cotter pin just like the tie rod end and you'll need the separator to knock it off as well. Stick in the new one, tighten it up, using a new cotter pin, and that's it.

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