What would cause a 2000 f-150 to have vibration at 60 to 68 MPH the tires are new and have been balanced 3 times by two different shops?
A simple wheel balance will cure most vibrations. But if that
doesn't cure the problem your problems may go deeper.
Inspect the rim--inside and outside--for any damage. Also look
at the tires--if you see any bulges or uneven wear of the tires,
consider them in the "probable cause" category.
Nothing obvious? Take the car for a test drive. When the
vibration occurs, is it while you're accelerating through a bend?
That means it's both torque and speed sensitive. When you pull back
to your garage, inspect the axle shafts, looking for damage to the
boots. Constant velocity joints can wear out. But if the boots are
intact, the clamps are holding them at each end, and there's been
no loss of lubricant and no intrusion of road film, then they're
probably in good condition.
If the vibration is not related to torque, shift into Neutral
and let the vehicle coast at the problem speed. Still have the
vibration? It's speed sensitive pure and simple. This could be the
source of your troubles, even if the wheels are balanced and the
tires are good. It's not a powertrain or driveline issue.
Jack up the front wheels by the control arms, so they're off the
ground, and support them with safety stands. Grasp each wheel,
holding it first at the sides, then at the top and bottom. See if
you can rock the wheel in and out and if you can feel any
looseness, which indicates a loose wheel or worn wheel hub
bearings. Wheel bearings (and the front bearings on many rear-drive
cars) are well-sealed and often are life-of-the-car without
lubrication. However, if you've been on a lot of secondary roads,
or glanced off a curb hard enough to bend a rim, they could be worn
Your Ford has adjustable front wheel bearings, and finding a lot
of free play in these is not surprising. To adjust, remove the
cotter pin, tighten the wheel bearing nut to about 20 ft.-lb. to
seat the bearings, and back off so they're just free but have so
little play that you really can't feel it. Then line up the slot in
the spindle with the nut and insert a new cotter pin.
You may not feel free play in a front wheel but try rocking it
in and out with a bit more effort, but not enough to move the
steering linkage. That could demonstrate free play from wear in the
tie-rod ends or ball joints. If you're not sure where the free play
is, pry up on the bottom of the tire and watch the ball joint to
see if it has free play1/4 in. is a lot.
To check a tie-rod end joint for looseness, try to flex it by
hand. A good tie-rod end should feel snug, but not immobile or
On rack-and-pinion steering, it's a good idea to check the tie
rods' inner sockets. They're covered by the steering rack boots,
but you can squeeze the boots to hold the inner joint. Jack up the
front end to take the weight off the front wheels. Have a friend
slowly turn the steering wheel a partial turn to each side, while
you feel for looseness.
Just because you can't feel a lot of free play or "wobble" in a
wheel doesn't mean there isn't enough to cause vibration. It
doesn't take a lot to be responsible for objectionable vibration at
speeds of 60 to 70 mph and above any deviation from a truly
circular spin is called runout. It can be vertical (up-down) or
The only practical way to check for runoutfront or rearis with a
dial indicator, another tool you can rent at many parts stores.
There are several different checks to make to pinpoint the source
of the runout.
Mount the indicator on something heavy that won't move, such as
an anchor plate or wheel hub/knuckle. Position the plunger for the
specific runout check. Example: For a radial runout test, rest it
against a good tire tread groove. Slowly turn the tire and measure
the amount of runout, ignoring jumps in the plunger that result
from the shape of the tread or minor imperfections in it. If there
are factory specifications for runout, use those.
If you don't have specs, see if the runout is about .050 to .060
in. this measurement is considered rule of thumb. The tire almost
surely isn't the issue, although there is precision equipment that
can check a tire for heavy spots.
To isolate the source of the runout, check it at the wheel with
the plunger on an underside horizontal surface. Ignore minor
imperfections in the wheel finish (paint, weld, tiny dings) that
cause the plunger to jump instantaneously. If the runout is over
.045 in., the wheel should be replaced.
If radial runout isn't bad, check lateral runout with the
plunger against the sidewall, even if the in-out rocking didn't
show anything. Obviously, ignore any plunger movement from raised
lettering, etc. If the runout is over .045 in., it's too much. Here
again, isolate the runout by checking at the wheel with the plunger
against a vertical surface. The rule-of-thumb specs are the same as
for radial runout.
When the runout at the wheel is excessive, a new wheel normally
is the answer, but not always. Remove the wheel and check runout on
the wheel hub. Making a lateral runout check is an obvious
procedure because there's a hub face against which you can rest the
For a radial check, it may be more difficult if the top surface
of the hub isn't reasonably smooth because you have to use the
threaded edges of the studs, and, typically, there are only four or
five of those studs. So it does take some careful measuring to see
if there's a significant amount. You have to look for the peak
reading at each stud to be sure you're measuring at the outermost
point. Unless almost all the radial runout is in the bolt circle,
and that amount is at least .030 in., go for a new wheel. Replacing
the hub and bearing on a front-drive is not a quick and easy
It can take a couple of hours to check out the possible causes
of high-speed vibration, and you may be tempted to take the car in
for wheel alignment to see if that helps before you spend time on
all these other things. Sorry. Unless there's some evidence of
wheel misalignment (such as irregular tire wear), a wheel alignment
is not going to help at all. In fact, until you first isolate and
correct the cause of the vibration, alignment would be a waste of
time and money.
I have found several cases of front end vibration due to worn
shocks and/or struts. These two items soak up vibrations caused by
oscillation in tires. No tire/wheel combination is perfectly
balanced. If he shock/strut is not optimal in it's functions, these
vibrations are transmitted to the steering wheel. Also when wheels
and tires are balanced, they are only balanced to themselves. Out
of round brake rotors and even slight loose ball joints may cause
the oroblem. If you front tires are the same as your rear tire
(which they should be) swap them and see if the problem still
exists. If it does, it is not a problem with the tire/wheel
combination. If it does remedy the problem, have the tires balanced
at a different shop first (worth the few bucks).
It also matters whether the balance done was single-plane or
dual-plane (whether the balance technician eliminated only the 'up
and down' element of the tire/wheel imbalance, or the 'side to
side' element as well. It is common for many shops to use
single-plane balancing on alloy and custom rims so there are no
'unsightly' wheel weights on the outer side of the wheel.
A good balancing technician can use a computerized balancer to
minimize the amount of weight needed to balance a wheel. However,
many shops do not do this because it requires extra work
(tire/wheel must be broken down and shifted to accomplish this),
and often the technicians at big-box stores and similar venues do
not even know how.
There is a lot of very good, very detailed information in the
responses above. Just be assertive while checking the tire/wheel
balance element of your problem - you are the customer and any shop
that won't take the time to address your questions is not a shop to
which you want to take your business. ASK them to do a dual-plane
balance on your wheels, and if the amount of required weight is
excessive, to use their balancer's program to minimize the