A bad tire will be more noticeable on the front axle than on the rear.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 2004

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 2002 Honda CRV with 5,000 miles on it. I recently took my car to Honda for its yearly maintenance. They changed my oil and rotated my tires. Now my car is vibrating whenever I drive above 35 mph. I took it back and they balanced the tires. This helped a little, but I still feel the vibration. Now I've resolved not to rotate my tires ever again. But what can I do to solve this problem? -- Gunes

RAY: Rotate the tires again.

TOM: Seriously. You had either a bad tire or a bad wheel on the back of your CRV. Now it's on the front. These things are much more noticeable, and annoying, when they're on the front.

RAY: Why? Because whatever happens in the front wheels gets telegraphed through the tie rods, down the rack and pinion, up the steering column and right into your hands -- which are connected to your arms, your shoulders, your neck and your teeth.

TOM: Here's how you test our theory: Have your dealer swap the wheels again, moving both front wheels to the back, and vice versa. Then see if the vibration goes away. If it does (and I'm fairly certain it will), you'll know that there's a problem with one of the (now) rear wheels or tires.

RAY: If it's a bad tire, you should replace it. Or, if it was a defect, like tread separation, the tire manufacturer will replace it for you. If it's a bent wheel, however, it'll be your responsibility, since that's almost always caused by driver error (hitting a big pothole or a curb, or running over a pretzel cart).

TOM: In that case, you have a choice. Sometimes bent wheels can be straightened, if they're not badly damaged. If it can't be straightened, you can either replace the wheel or simply leave it in the back, where it won't bother you.

RAY: If you leave it in the back, your tires won't last quite as long, since you won't be able to rotate them. But when you find out how much a new wheel costs, you might be willing to live with shorter tire life. Good luck, Gunes.

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