Tires Shaking On My Toyota Tacoma Pickup – Wheel Balance Problem?

Reader Question:

I have a 2001 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 4WD.  The vehicle seems to have a wheel balance problem.  For the three months that I have owned it I feel a vibration or wheel hop throughout the vehicle typically at the same speeds.  Starting around 60mph and can continue up to 70mph where it tapers off or becomes tolerable.

The tires are Yokohoma Geolander HTS tires on the factory 16” rims.  I have had them high-speed balanced twice and road force balanced once all at separate establishments with no change in the issue.  Each person saying the last didn’t balance them properly.  The tires have plenty of tread and I can’t see ditching them.  Two of the tires were reindexed during the road force balance attempt.

This problem is preventing the vehicle from being a joy to drive due to the fact that the speeds it occurs at are where I drive 98% of the time.  I just want to be certain that I am not chasing the wrong problem and don’t want to get new tires if the problem is not the tires.  Just looking for an opinion from another source.  Any assistance is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Brian

Hey there Brian

This was a common complaint in my shop with 4wd and large SUV vehicles, tire shimmy.  99% of the time it was a problem in the tire itself and replacement of the tire was the solution.

A more aggressive off road tread might last long but the tire becomes out of round fairly easily and causes a shimmy that can never really be balanced out.  if you are not really an off road guy and the truck spends more time on pavement than dirt I would highly recommend replacing the current tires with an all season more highway friendly tread.

Keep me posted.

Blessings,
Austin Davis

P.S. Do you have a comment or suggestion for Brian?  Leave your comments below!

Posted in: Tires

40 Comments on "Tires Shaking On My Toyota Tacoma Pickup – Wheel Balance Problem?"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Rob says:

    Same problem Tacoma 4×4 shimmy only happened at 60 and above, now auto transmission won’t go into gear. warped drive shaft from all that I have been reading. just wondering now how much it will cost me.

    • Austin says:

      Not real sure, probably a lot 🙁 I would visit your local automatic transmission shop and get their opinion. You can rebalance a driveshaft although not a very common repair anymore and might be hard to find a shop to do it. A junk yard and a used shaft might be more economical.

  2. Bobster says:

    I just had a customer that bought a vehicle from me and it was a lifted Nissan. We balanced the tires, and it still vibrated. His mechanic said to buy it anyway. He bought it , and went to put new tires on it. When they took it apart, their was water in the tires. That solved the problem and he kept the tires on it. I had never heard of that one before, so I though I would pass it along to everyone. It was likely used for off-roading and had been in water, maybe hit a submerged rock and got water in the tire. Thats all I can figure.

    • admin says:

      I have seen the same thing with Fix-a-flat residue left inside a tire that caused a shimmy out of balance issue. Also seen water from an air compressor that has not been drained in a long time inject water through the valve stem, so its possible.

  3. Sharon P says:

    I have a 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix GT and the air conditioner keeps going out. I had dye shot through it to detect any problems and a valve changed but the air will not stay cold for more than a few days. What can be causing this problem?

    • admin says:

      This could be an electrical problem or a lack of freon in the system problem. I would find another mechanic and start from scratch…which should be checking the freon level and pressure. if the system is empty then you still have a leak which needs to be repaired. If the system is full, then you might have a control problem….an electrical problem which is not turning the compressor ON. A/C work can be tricky and should be left to a professional experienced A/C mechanic not just a tire or oil change type of mechanic. its too costly to guess, as you are probably finding out.

  4. Darla says:

    I didn’t see where you had the alignment checked, or the brakes. Those are actually two things I have had done in the past on smaller cars that had a high-speed shimmy. It may be different for what you’re driving, but if nothing else has worked, it certainly can’t hurt, and many places will check both of these for free. Good Luck!

  5. Flip says:

    I just had a 07 toyota come in last week with the same trouble and come to find out the upper a- arm bushings were shot. We ended up putting bushings and a-arms on cause there was play in the ball joints. That style you have to replace the upper a- arm to replace the ball joint. It solved my problem

  6. Ken says:

    Also the road force balance test will also show if a wheel is bent.

  7. Ken says:

    First thing comes to mind is the tires need a “road force” balance.
    The road force balance will tell if there is any internal tire issues you can not see or feel. (tread seperation)
    I don’t remember the specs, but the person operating the machine would know.
    If this road force balance comes out ok, I would try a known good set of wheel/tires to see if the problem persist or not. This will seperate the diagnostic from the wheel/tires to the vehicle. (possible faulty axle)

  8. Randy says:

    Brake drums on Toyota trucks are sometimes very hard to remove. Sometimes the balancing weights will come off the drums if an air hammer is used to jar the rust loose. The weights are only tack welded to the drums and the rust will expand under the weights and weaken the weld. A sharp blow to the drum with a hammer or air hammer is enough to cause them to fall off. The drums being out of balance could cause a vibration.

  9. divot61 says:

    well. i if you have gone through all the basics, and it sounds like it. im thinking may be the u-joints on the drive shafts and or a warped rotor, just throwing it out there : )
    good luck

  10. Toyota now has fix for a vibration similar to this, Rear motor mount replacement will stop the vibration, it gets replaced with a heavier mount. Call your dealer and ask about a new bulletin out on this. Hope it helps.

  11. Dhananjay says:

    Well, I had similar problem for my Maruti (Suzuki) 800 cc small car (INDIA). Replaced the steering bush and the problem disappeared.

  12. Ted says:

    I have a 2000 Chevy Venture with well over 300,000 miles. I have the same issues since about 100,000 miles, and I have tried several things.

    I always check and cross check with consumer reports before buying my tires. I always check inflation, balance, and rotate at 5,000-7,000 miles. This is my 4th set of tires and I have always gotten more miles out of them than intended.

    I have lifetime warrany on my rear shocks and tie rod ends, and I replace them every 2 years or so – very easily done on my car. The struts only have 50,000 miles on them.

    The only thing I can think of is possibly the hardening of the rubber bushings that hold the steering and suspension parts in place (such as the sway bar). Even without any weight on the wheels, this is very hard to determine and replacement of the parts is also a questionable task, especially on a car that is of little value to anyone but myself.

  13. Dennis says:

    I had a similar problem with my 1999 Bonneville, turns out it was a cv half shaft that was getting sloppy internally. Keep in mind it is not always tires, especially on front wheel drive vehicles.

  14. Rick says:

    I had a simalar problem, it turned out to be a warped rim. Hope this helps.

  15. Mike Cross says:

    I think that since,as I understand it, he has bought the truck recently and have tried quality tire blancing tecniques,that futher evaluation would be needed. I would look at wheel bearing slack or worn bearing surfaces. Also in an inspect for slack look at the u-joints for bad seal and possible slack. If the ujoints can be serviced try some new grease and if the vib goes away for a short peiod of time you found the problem.

    If the wheels come off again I would check the rotors for a missing piece or bad shock and or spring combo.

    I assume that the alignment and tie-rod ends etc are tight.

    Hope this gives some ideas! MC

  16. Manoel Camargo says:

    Hello
    Most of the time, the problem is uneven tyre wear. If it is the front tyres the steering wheel will vibrate and ligthly sake at low speed, if the problem is in the rear tyres the front pannel vibrates at righer speeds..
    Once I had a faulty engine pad that caused similar vibrations.
    Manoel

  17. Alex says:

    Since there are lots of things that other readers already pointed out.. how about taking a look at the wheels bearings ???
    -Alex

  18. EdB says:

    I have had the same issue with my 2002 pontiac firebird. The cause was not tires which is first ans easist thing to check. My problem was in the front end axles which both were word and needed relpacement. This was a component on eac side that needed to be replace. Sorry I can’t state exactly what the part was.

  19. Art Smith says:

    I had a similar experience with a freshly repaired dodge van.
    it shimmied at 65-70 but it revealed itself when the drive shaft dropped out of the front U- joint going 70 on a country road. so I recomend checking your u-joints.
    The cause of the joint failure was a slight curve in the driveshaft that was a result of the accident the van had just been repaired for but the shop had not detected. The shop picked up the van and repaired at their expense.
    GOOD LUCK

  20. David says:

    Brian,
    I too have the same issue. However, I have a ’97 Tacoma standard cab 4X4 with 6 inches of lift and I run 33 12.5×15 destination MTs. I have the strangest tread wear. All in all I’ve put 260,000 miles on this truck with this lift and tire combo. You’re going to get that “shimmy” at certain speeds no matter what pick-up you drive. It all comes down to suspension and tire rotation. Now, my problem is that I run a sh*t ton of rubber underneath such a small truck. My tires are much much stiffer than they should be, and my suspension is tight. I started rotating my tires at every oil change (yes this may seem like over-kill), and the tread wear problem went away. Your Taco is gonna have the shakes, buddy. My only other suggestion is to switch back to the same brand, size, type, etc of tire that came on the old girl from the factory. Best of luck and hope this helped.

  21. Alex Cokic says:

    Brian,
    Many of the comments have focussed on tyres, cold until warmed up as well as suspension and drive train.. These are all a process of elimination. A wheel rim that has been curb hit or out of round has not been mentioned.
    On passenger cars the mechanics and physics are similar. Disc rotors can cause a vibration problem usually manifesting in steering wheel shake in the cabin,, out of balance tail shaft mentioned in one reply, definitely shock absorbers as well. If the vehicle is automatic then an out of balance torque converter in the transmission needs to be checked when auto is next serviced. Gearbox transmission and engine mounts can cause shift in engine balance causing vibration also – check condition of these for cracks and other damage.. Try borrowing one or two sets of rims and tyres from a friend or friendly dealer.

    Aussie Alex from down under

  22. Tim says:

    Many years back, I had a similar problem and it was the tires themselves.
    They were “out of round”. The solution at the time was a facility which was able to precision “shave” the tires round again.
    Today I would just replace the tires with a good quality highway set.

  23. Charles says:

    Vibration can usually be traced to three items. Tires that are out of round, have cupped tread and or over inflated tires. Tires that are wearing in an abnormal fashion can usually be traced to worn shocks. My recommendation is to inspect the tires throughly for cups, out of round condition and for proper inflation. If they pass this criteria then replace the shocks with the MONROE Sensatrac series. The value of good shocks is an area often ignored or mis-understood. Don’t go overboard and use a series of shock that is too stiff as this will also provide a harsh ride. OEM shocks are usually played out after 15,000 miles. The purpose of a shock is to absorb the thousands of impacts that the wheels are subjected to in every mile traveled.

  24. Scott says:

    Brian, If the tire balance changed from one place to the other you may want to see if there is too much lubricant on the tire bead causing the tires to slip on the wheels. You will have to clean it all off and use a tire sealer on the wheel to secure the tire to the wheel so it won’t slip anymore. You can mark the tire and wheels to see if they are slipping.
    If the tires are not slipping and the tires don’t have any defects, have the balance checked on your driveshaft and make sure all the universal joints are free and not binding.
    Next thing to check would be your suspension etc.
    Also check your front and rear differential fluids, transmission and transfer case fluids to see if it looks like there may be a problem there.
    Good luck!

  25. James says:

    My experience was with high Line Fast cars like Porsche in the early 90’s and 99% of the time the tires needed to be replaced. The symptoms were the same then and sometimes with new tires too. Cheap tires are not worth the safty risk. Especially on a go fast car.

  26. salim says:

    HI BRIAN,

    CAN YOU PLEASE CHECK YOUR PROPELLER SHAFT…MIGHT BE LOOSE OR SLIGHTLY BEND…MAY BE YOU TOUCHED WHILE CROSSING SOME HILLY SIDE.

  27. Francisco says:

    I had the same problem with my Mazda 4×4 and it was the rear tires
    I replaced them end of problem

  28. Chris Young says:

    All vehicles have a speed in which they shimmy a bit. If it is not severe increase your speed or decrease it in order to get out of the awkward range. My first car shimmied at 55mph, my current one at 70mph. Not much of an explanation, but it may relieve some stress during your drive.

  29. michael says:

    hi i think it might be your alignment or the other thing i would say a bad rim hope that will help out

  30. Chris says:

    Check the alignment.

  31. Darryl says:

    This might be a long shot but could the problem possibly be caused by the harmonic balancer???

    Just a thought. Good luck.

    Darryl

  32. hank B. says:

    could be a sliped belt….that in and of itself will create cupping…..I once had Continental tires on my MB 190, it persisted and I was at a loss after many balancings. One day a Goodyear dealer look at the tire (from a distance of 4 feet) and told me what the problem was, “slipped belt”, and he was correct…

  33. Jack Osborne says:

    There are really too many reasons for this problem.
    But, if after balancing they are reasonable, and the become unreasonable after a short mileage run, I would start to think of bad rubber compound in those tires.

    Especially if you found uneven surfaces over the fact of the tire, and not just on the inside or outside of the tread.

    I would get one new tire on your spare, and interchange it with the existing tires to see whether it was on all four wheels, limited to one wheel, and whether it was from or back.

    You really might have to check all of the drive train components also!

    Jack

  34. Keith says:

    I’m on the other side of the world, in New Zealand. As you are just going out of Winter, it’s obviously cold. I have previously found a similar problem, but it was only noticeable for a few kilometres, first thing in the morning. Each time I had them checked, there was no problem, they were perfectly balanced, and running true. Turns out, the tires were developing flat areas where they were sitting on the ground, overnight, so were out of round, until they warmed up. Once they were warm, they were fine, until the next day. The colder it was, the more pronounced the out of balance, and the longer it would last. My tires were even filled with Nitrogen. As you’re so much colder, is it possible it could be something along those lines? Cheers.

  35. Shannon Bouchie says:

    Hi,
    I had that same problem with my toyota, and it turned out to be road dirt in my rims throwing them out of whack. Hope that helps!

  36. Virgil Brown says:

    I had a similar problem with my 2001 Ford Windstar. It would shake the steering wheel at exactly 60 MPH. Slower or faster than 65, no shake. I had 3 sets of tires installed, all with the same problem. No one could answer the shake problem until one day I was following my wife who was driving the Windstar and I saw an erratic shaking intermittenly under the right rear of the car at much lower speeds. Upon checking the shocks, I found the right rear shock was bad. Replaced the shock and have been riding good ever since. Finding this took me a year and a half.

Got Something to Say?