1997 Ford Mustang Shakes – I Have a Vibration in My Car Sometimes

Reader Question

Austin – I have a ’97 Mustang GT 4.6 with 64K miles on it. The problem I have isn’t new, its actually been with the car since I bought it four years ago. I just didn’t know who to ask.

It shakes at the oddest times, and I can’t duplicate anything to make it happen. It’s not a steady shake that’s caused by alignment or tire balance, there’s no noise when it shakes, and there’s no certain speed that I have to be driving before it shakes.

I’ve asked the Ford mechanic if the motor mounts were loose, and he said no. So I’m at a loss as to what it could be. Would Dr. Austin have any ideas?

Thank You in advance,


Hi there Rick

Hi, thanks for your email. I have more questions than answers.

You say “shake” does it do this when you are driving (usually freeway or slower speeds…on acceleration or just a steady speed or at a stop light)?

Get back to me and I will see what I can assist with.


Austin C. Davis

Thank you for getting back to me Austin,

The “shake” happens during both city & highway driving, it could occur during acceleration but no guarantee. On a scale of 1-10, ( 1 being least likely ) I’d give it a 2 for during acceleration. It never shakes when just idoling, I have to be traveling slow or fast, and it happens at random.

The only way I could describe it is this:

As if the car was on top of a big massge pad and it turned on at random times for maybe 10 seconds at a time.

I don’t notice an exact amount of time in between shakes either.

If you have any idea, that would be great.

I think this is one those times where I need someone to drive it for a week and feel it themselves.

Thanks Austin,


Thanks for the clarification Rick

If you live in the Houston area I would be glad to take a ride with you and see if I can determine the problem.

If you have a shimmy or shake while you are driving it most likely is coming from one of these:

Wheel balance problem – usually the shimmy is always there because the tire is always out of balance, but hitting a pot hole can cause a shimmy for a few seconds until the wheel comes back into balance…or close to it. I would rotate and balance the wheels, moving front wheels to back and back to front.

Run your hands along the tread of the tires (this will get your hands very dirty) and see if you can feel any rough or high spots that might be caused from uneven tire wear. If you have a tire that has some high spots that you can see with your naked eye and feel with your hand…this will and can cause vibration problems.

Slight vibrations, but enough that will cause your coffee cup to shake when you have it in your cup holder. These rough and high spots will cause the tire to be out of balance just slightly and will be felt at certain speeds and on certain pavements, not all the time. So one day you might be just on the right pavement at just the right speed to feel it. Most vibration complaints I see are caused by rough and out of balance tires.

Rule of thumb – the more aggressive the tire I,E like a competition low profile tire which you probably have or a tall more off road tire like most SUVS the more you will feel a vibration than if you had some “grampa” highway radial tire that is soft and absorbs more of the road. The shorter the tire profile the more of the road vibration you will feel in the seat. Switch to a taller, highway type tread…and get a softer ride but less handling performance on turns.

Driveshaft or u – joint problem Again, this is an out of balance problem and once out of balance it is usually always out of balance, but checking the u- joints is easy to do. There should be no play in the joints or the driveshaft.

Steering stabilizer shock – Your car probably has this option. When you hit a pot hole the front end gets all shaky and squirrelly because the stabilizer shock is worn out. If you have one, and it is old….replace it as maintenance ….your car will handle better anyway with a new one even if you don’t solve the problem.

Worn or loose tie rod ends or worn control arms – if you have not had an alignment in awhile, get an alignment and have your mechanic “shake the front end down” to check for anything that is loose or worn in the steering and suspension system.


Austin C. Davis

Posted in: Tires

7 Comments on "1997 Ford Mustang Shakes – I Have a Vibration in My Car Sometimes"

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  1. Chellie says:

    I recently perchased a 96 mustang with 97760 miles! The day after I bought it I put new tires on it because the car had been garaged for 3 years and I knew it would prob need. But right after I got the new shoes on her! I noticed the shaking coming back, mostly on the freeway at about 60-70 the car just had its struts done. I just do know know what is going on! Don’t want to put my kids in car and have rear end fall off! Help!

    • By Austin Davis says:

      Usually if you can drive out of the shimmy, the problem is related to a tire balance issue. So if the shimmy is there at 60-70, but goes away at 75-80 or gets much better, then I would take a harder look at the tire balance, wheel balance/bent issues first. I would also swap the front tires to the rear and see if the shimmy gets better or worse. if you can feel and see the steering wheel shaking, then it is most likely a problem with the front tires. Moving them to the rear should lessen the feeling in the driver seat, and help narrow down the problem. Then have the tires -rebalanced and let the mechanic know you are experiencing a shimmy problem, so he can inspect the tire and wheel more closely. Even a new tire can be “out of round” from the factory.

      If you still have a problem after that, I would have the front end checked out for any wear, and the drive shaft for wear or out of balance issues.

  2. John says:

    I am having the same issue with my car. it’s a ’97 base 3.7 liter. Bad vibration when I used to heavily apply brakes. For past few days, vibration is now constant at all speeds regardless of braking. look for excessive brake dust on one or both wheels. in my case my passenger side front wheel was completely blackened with brake dust. Take spook at your brakes and brake system. My caliper was not completely retracting and it warped the rotor. Heat checks are visible with coloring (rainbow effect) on rotor. This is a clear sign of the iron rotor being annealed by the heat of the tight caliper causing a warped rotor. This is where my vibration came from

  3. Kasey Copeland says:

    I have a 98′ Ford Mustang 5 speed 3.8 V6, and its just the coupe base model. When I get up between 60-70 my cars shakes or vibrates really bad, and when I let off the gas it still shakes as the speed decreases. I have two new tires on the front and the ones on the back are fairly new as well. I have had it balance, aligned, new struts put on the front, and the drive shaft balanced. I don’t know what else to do. Has anyone had a similar problem or have a suggestion?? Shot me an email or reply please.

    • By Austin Davis says:

      I would suspect a tire balance issue since the vibration only shows up at that speed. I would balance all 4 tires and watch the tire as it is being spun on the balancer to see if the tire is out of round or the wheel is bent. Tell the mechanic about the problem so he can be watching for a problem. Don’t just ask for a tire balance and not give more info because they will only rely on what the balancer tells them to do and not actually WATCH what is going on. I would also move he front tires to the rear to see if the problem gets better or worse. I have seen a few bad new tires, so don’t assume new tires are perfect.

  4. pat says:

    hey I’ve got the same prblem in michigan on my wives 97 mustang and I think it maybe the rearend I jacked up the car thinking it might have been a ujoint going bad but taking the car out of gear and spinning the wheels i can feel a vibration that seems simalar. the driversside wheel seems to have alittle more play than the passegers side. Could I be on to something or am i nuts

    • Austin says:

      You have a vibration, correct? If you can drive out of the vibration, say its there at 60MPH but better at 70MPH, then most likely its a problem with the wheel balance. In most cases I just rotate and balance the tires first to eliminate the problem, good for regular maintenance anyway. If you still have a problem, then see if you can push up on the driveshaft or get any play/movement out of the wheels due to a wheel bearing failure….rare, but can happen. You should not have any play on the rear wheels of a rear wheel drive vehicle unless there is a bearing problem or something in the rearend. You should also move the wheels front to rear and see if the vibration follows them…vibration now in front, thus a problem with those two (or one) tires you placed on the front.

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