Join the Car Talk Community!

First of all I have to disagree with you gentlemen...

Dear Tom and Ray:

First of all, I have to disagree with you gentlemen on your opinion of BMW
drivers (we don't ALL drive on the sidewalk!). I have a 1988 528e, and it
has a problem I cannot figure out. Sometimes, when I step on the brakes,
the steering wheel shakes and rattles. However, if I let go and step again
on the brakes right away, the shake is gone. I took it to a brake shop to
check the rotors, but there was hardly any warpage in them, front or rear.
What is the problem? -- Haz

TOM: It could still be warped disc rotors, Haz. You say there's "hardly any
warpage" in them, but it only takes a little bit of warp to make a lot of
shake -- especially at high speed.

RAY: But if you're satisfied that it's not the disc rotors, then I'd look
for a bad universal joint.

TOM: I've seen this on other rear-wheel-drive cars on rare occasions. What
happens is that the universal joints -- the flexible connectors that allow
the drive shaft to bend while it's spinning -- are fine under normal

RAY: But when you step on the brakes, particularly at high speeds, the
geometry of the whole car changes. The front end noses down, and you change
the drive shaft's angle. And if one of the u-joints is bad, it won't be
able to bend properly under those conditions and you end up with a "whole
lotta shakin' goin' on."

TOM: It's also possible that you have a bad ball joint or bad tie rod ends
up front. And since both of those could be serious safety problems, it's
worth having those components looked at carefully, too. But my guess is
that when your mechanic removes the drive shaft, he'll find a seized

RAY: Unless you get lucky and free it up next time you hit a curbstone
while driving on the sidewalk, Haz!
Tags (Browse All)

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login / Signup
Support for Car Talk is provided by:

Donate Your Car,
Support Your NPR Station

...and get a tax break!

Get Started

Find a Mechanic



Rocket Fuel