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Roadster Test Drive: Steering Wheel shake at freeway speeds

supersnoop

Tesla Roadster #334
Mar 24, 2014
1,111
222
Pflugerville
I recently test drove roadster #116 and noticed fairly violent steering wheel shake at freeway speeds. Is this normal for the roadsters?

My initial thoughts are the wheels aren't balanced correctly as the car was still responsive, wasn't shifting in the lane and the shake went away when I reduced speed.
Mine did that when I got it. I had the service center check it out, and they told me to replace the front tires. Once I did, everything smoothed out. I'm not sure if it was a problem with the tires or if balancing fixed it, but I like the new tires better anyway.
 
I've experienced the same when the roadster had sit for a longer time in the garage. She was fine when I parked her and it slowly went away after a 50km drive. Somehow suspect that the Yoko's (being a very rigid compound) take some time to get back in their nice round shape.

Then again, in your case it also might be uneven wear of the tires or the wheels needing some balancing or maybe the front train needing some aligning.
 

ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Very likely one or more tires is out of balance. Roadster steering feel is normally quite good. Is #116 for sale and you are considering buying it?
I recently test drove roadster #116 and noticed fairly violent steering wheel shake at freeway speeds. Is this normal for the roadsters?
My initial thoughts are the wheels aren't balanced correctly as the car was still responsive, wasn't shifting in the lane and the shake went away when I reduced speed.
 

tvuolo

Member
Supporting Member
Sep 8, 2013
295
114
Colorado
I had an issue with my rear tires making a ton of noise and vibrating at higher speeds. I took it to the tire shop to get the tires balanced (making sure they wouldn't put it on the lift). It turned out that my tires were very old, from 2009, and were wearing funny. They suggested I just get new ones. So I took #265 to the track and did my best to destroy the old tires, which is a LOT harder than it sounds - the car is so dang sticky! I picked up some new tires from Tirerack and had my shop install and balance them. Now it's as quiet and smooth as can be!
 

TEG

Teslafanatic
Moderator
Aug 20, 2006
22,034
9,356
Many things can cause freeway vibration. Losing a balancing weight on a wheel. Flat spots on the tires from sitting too long. Uneven lug nut tightening (may cause shake under braking due to rotor warpage.)

It is usually a relatively minor problem that can be corrected. Hopefully nothing is really messed up with the suspension on that car. Suspect tire flat spots due to sitting too long...

The Roadster's manual steering transmits road feel very effectively. So, when something isn't right you really feel it.
 

Doug_G

Lead Moderator
Global Moderator
Apr 2, 2010
17,888
3,411
Ottawa, Canada
Roadster has such direct steering that even the slightest tire imbalance comes through the steering wheel. The tires can and do go out of balance just due to wear. I get my fronts rebalanced whenever I change my rears, which are replaced 3X as often. Even then I sometimes get steering vibration before the rears wear out again.

So 98% likely it's just tire balance.
 
I race (a Morgan) on Yokos and they are a fantastic tyre. I would not, however, use tyres more than 2 years old as they harden especially if left in daylight.

i am running new Yokos on my 9,000 mile Tesla Roadster and they are excellent. Some people worry about the grip in the wet: if you are gentle on accelerator and brakes they seem fine to me.

Steering judder at 50-70 mph is nearly always due to front wheel imbalance. The chance of its being suspension is much lower.
 

ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Moderator
i am running new Yokos on my 9,000 mile Tesla Roadster and they are excellent. Some people worry about the grip in the wet: if you are gentle on accelerator and brakes they seem fine to me.
In an emergency situation when you need to stop quickly you clearly cannot be "gentle" on the brakes.
Exactly which Yokohama tires are you using?
 
When I got my tires there is a yellow and red dot. I "think" yellow is the light spot and red runout. One (yellow I think) is to be lined up with the valve stem and they got it backwards and I had a noticeable vibration above 45. They remounted and the weights went from like 3.5oz to 1.5 oz and now the ride is smooth. So it is likely a simple mounting and balancing issue.
 
In an emergency situation when you need to stop quickly you clearly cannot be "gentle" on the brakes.
Exactly which Yokohama tires are you using?
I use the 048s and find them to be excellent.

As they are quite soft, however, you can flat spot them quickly if you lock the car up and then yes, they will feel similar to unbalanced wheels.

Braking in the wet is surely the same with any tyre type: the laws of physics will apply and when stopping force exceeds friction grip available, either ABS (automatic or manual) operates or car locks at least one wheel. I tend to use cadence braking (rapid repeated pushes on the brake pedal) to stop the car. One of the worst things about locking up front wheels is that steering goes as there's no spare friction. It took me a while to train myself to come off the brakes enough to restore steering when that happens (in the hope of avoiding any incident). I just find the 048s as good as anything, and they don't "snap" (ie if they do let go, it's progressive).
 
I recently test drove roadster #116 and noticed fairly violent steering wheel shake at freeway speeds. Is this normal for the roadsters?

My initial thoughts are the wheels aren't balanced correctly as the car was still responsive, wasn't shifting in the lane and the shake went away when I reduced speed.

I recently bought #243. It is rock-solid at speedway speeds, no shake. So something's up - hopefully easily correctable - with #116.
 

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