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Hitting a curb or large pot hole can cause wheel weights to come off, and sometimes weights sling off wheel at high speed if they were not installed properly. Out-of-round or out-of-balance will not cause a pull in front end, but will definitely cause shakes and shimmies. If you can drive out of a shake or shimmy by varying speed of car, it is a good clue that you have an out-of-balance problem. A simple way to check tire balance: if shimmy is present at one speed, but better or not present at a different speed, then a balance problem is likely. An out-of-round tire or a bent wheel will usually produce a wobble or shimmy at all speeds, and replacement of tire or wheel is usually cure.
Regular tire rotation is best way to extend life of a tire. Ask your mechanic which way to rotate tires depending on how tread is wearing. Crossing tires in an "X" pattern is usually standard way to rotate most tires, but moving front tires to back in some cases is recommended to place best tires on front. The majority of stopping power of vehicle comes from front brakes, so best tires should stay on front for safety. Caution: Some tires are "directional" and must stay on one side of vehicle, due to fact that tire was made for tread to only travel in one direction.
A vibration or shaking that is felt in steering wheel only when brakes are applied is not a front end alignment problem, but a brake problem. Have brakes inspected and make sure to tell your mechanic about shaking that you feel in steering wheel when you apply brakes. This vibration may not be felt by mechanic on a quick test drive around block, so be specific. During this brake inspection, it would also be a great time to rotate tires since you are already paying labor to remove wheels.
I have developed a quick and easy to use maintenance schedule that can help keep you up-to-date on items mentioned above. These schedules are free for you to view and print out
Austin Davis comes from a family that has been in the auto repair industry for over 64 years. Austin speaks at local civic events, at area clubs and organizations and has written a book “What Your Mechanic Doesn’t Want You To Know”. His book is about how to find an honest mechanic, and the simple steps to keep them honest. Austin points out that it is usually what the customer says or does that can cause them to be taken advantage of by a repair “professional.”