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Why does my front end shimmy after hitting a bump?

With snowfall blanketing all kinds of debris on the road and potholes starting to pop up, it’s easy for your tires to hit bumps in the winter and spring. We often hear from drivers who feel a shimmy in their front end after hitting a bump, and the cause of that shake could compromise your safety.

The bump

It’s common this time of year to hit unexpected bumps. Whether you slid into the sidewalk or didn’t see a dip in the road because of the snow, it may be cause for concern.

It’ll help our mechanics to know what kind of bump you hit. Was it a pothole? How big? About how fast were you going at the time? Try to make a note of the conditions heading into the bump, as well as the shimmy that followed.

The shimmy

Generally, several vehicle conditions can cause vibrations, from worn suspension parts to brakes and transmissions to tires. In this case, if you hit a bump and then felt a shimmy in the steering wheel, we know what’s happened and what’s causing that vibration.

If you feel a slow shake, it’s likely that your wheel was bent to the point it can’t drive straight. If you feel a fast, vibrating shimmy, hitting the bump may have knocked your vehicle’s weight off, and now a tire is out of balance.

Either way, now your vehicle’s parts are out of sync. The more out of sync they are, the more you’re going to feel it on the steering wheel, especially at high speeds when parts like your tires and wheels are rotating hundreds of times a minute.

The solution

During a front-end inspection, our mechanics will inspect your wheels, tires, suspension and more to see exactly which parts were impacted by hitting the bump.

If your wheel was bent, we can order you a new one; if your tires are out of balance, we’ll balance them so you can get back to driving straight and smooth. Kal Tire’s computerized alignments ensure you’re ready for the road with centred and straight wheels and steering wheel.

Even if you’ve hit a hard bump and your wheel wasn’t bent, it’s a good idea to bring your vehicle in because you may still need an alignment.