It has been over a week since these shaking problems had started. It had left me stranded once. I still decided to try to drive, though. I can’t diagnose with out experiencing the problem, right? The adventure continues as I collect over a thousand miles in what feels like re-entry. I’m finally starting to feel like I’m making some progress as to whats going on.
Seeing that the problem was mostly reproducible, I take the next several days trying new things. It comes to be that I can induce the shaking at any where between 68 mph to 85 mph. After 85, its still present, but at a mostly consistent and manageable level. In the 50 to 60 range, its present but subtle enough to be missed by your regular drivers. Its so subtle, in fact, that its possible that I’ve had it for a while and missed it myself – there is a bit of vibration from the motor set up as is. The results that made me scratch my head was that at 45mph, I could provoke the shaking with the same intensity as the 70 mph. In weeks ahead, I would eventually be able to feel that 70 mph in 4th gear @ 3.2k rpms felt differently than 70 mph in 5th gear @ 3.2k rpms. It also felt worse during acceleration than cruise, and more so in neutral. This led me to rule out engine problems as the source of the shaking.
While at a stop, I noticed some squeaking in the front end but only when I turned the wheel. People must had thought I was crazy for turning the wheel at a stop light, but I had to make sure I was hearing it correctly. According to one of my most knowledgeable go-to friends, the noise is most likely from the ball joints. Under some situations, they can cause vibrations when they start to fail, too. This is alarming, as I’ve heard stories of these things failing and the wheel flying off the car. Also, there was a recall on these …. so I didn’t waste any time. Within 30 minutes of the conversation, I had 2 new ball joints ready to install. I had jumped up to get them before the store closed. The passenger side didn’t look bad, even pulling, pushing, lifting with all my weight, I couldn’t find any evidence of a failing ball joint. Frustrated, I checked the driver side, too. Nothing. Not even a little movement. So I decide to get under and just look. I grab the drive shaft and try to pull and push on it, no play there either. Nothing is cracked or dry rotted. Why the hell can I not find anything that looks obviously wrong with this? I turn my attention to the driver side wheel and notice that the inside of wheel has a lot of spatter on it. Great, an oil leak over there, too? Awesome …. just great, but is it only being slung to the inside of the tire and not all over the timing bet?
The answer to that is really simple, its not coming coming from the motor, and its not oil. It is actually grease. The suspension really only has a few places for grease to come from. That I know of, there is some packed into the bearing, and there is some in the CV axle boots. If you’re curious as to what a CV axle boot looks like, but shouldn’t look like, here is a photo.
This means its time to exchange the parts I bought for a new axle. Now, this is a bitter topic for me. I have to go to work, every day. I know that when you’re generating a lot of HP … stock parts just cannot handle the abuse. I also know that what the parts stores sell are not even stock quality. I know, I don’t need a sermon on it, but I have to go to work.