A Celica is saying "Ta-ta" to Ari.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

I drive a 1984 Toyota Celica Supra with 130,000 miles that runs like new. However, a problem has developed with the steering wheel. It has started vibrating so that I can actually see my hand shaking as I hold the wheel. The vibration is hardly noticable at low speeds, but at highway speeds, say, 65 mph, it is quite annoying. Interestingly, the vibration increases and decreases in intensity every 20 or 30 seconds, but never goes away. Also, I hear a muffled, but unmistakable "ta-ta" sound that seems to coincide with the vibration of the steering wheel. What do you think?

TOM: Well, if you're still alive when you read this, Ari, you should get this car right over to your mechanic. I think that "ta-ta" was the car's way of saying good bye to you.

RAY: Seriously, Ari, vibrations that come from the front end of the car should always be taken seriously, because they're potentially very dangerous. The worst case scenario is that a wheel could fall off, and then we'd all be saying "ta ta" to you.

TOM: So the first thing you should do is have your mechanic completely inspect the front end. Have him check the ball joints, the tie rod ends, the idler arm, and everything else under there.

RAY: If all that checks out, then you can relax a little bit and start looking elsewhere. And the next thing I'd look for is a siezed universal joint. Because so many of today's cars are front wheel drive, mechanics often overlook problems that are specific to rear wheel drive cars. And on a rear wheel drive car like yours, a seized U-joint can cause the whole car to shake. Good luck, Ari, but do get it looked at right away.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter