The front end of my Chevy Bel-Air shakes and shimmies...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

The front end of my 1966 Chevy Bel-Air shakes and shimmies violently whenever I step on the brakes lightly. It stops when I step on them harder. Would improper wheel balance cause this?

RAY: Geez, Blaine, I hope you're still alive to read this. Improper wheel balance would NOT cause your problem, and whatever is causing your problem is potentially very dangerous.

TOM: Yeah. Everyone knows I'm a world class cheapskate, Blaine, but I never cheap out when it comes to vibrations in the front end. When things in the front end shake, wheels could be ready to fall off, especially on heaps as old as the one you're driving.

RAY: You could have ball joints that are ready to fall off, tie rod ends that are ready to come loose, and if any of those things break, it could be curtains for you AND your Bel Air (and we'd hate to see such a wonderful car destroyed!).

TOM: Of course, it might be something less dangerous, like a cracked or warped brake drum, or brake shoes that have been contaminated by grease or brake fluid, but how are you going to know until you get it checked out?

RAY: Next chance you get, push the car or tow it (we're serious about this; don't drive it) to your mechanic and have the entire front end and brake system checked out. We don't mind losing readers to Ann Landers or Dear Abby, but we hate losing a reader to a bad front end in a Bel Air.

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