Couple disagree on how to solve wobbly toad problem

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Dear RV Shrink:rvshrink
We are towing a small sedan behind our motorhome. The car started acting strange – it developed a wobble at slow speeds. At first we thought it was the roads we were driving on, but it turns out to be an issue with the car. My husband hates to deal with businesses on the road he is not familiar with. He studies any problem for hours before he acts.

In this case he finally decided we had a tire issue. He went and had two new tires put on and the tire dealer told him he also had a bent wheel. The dealer didn’t sell wheels, so we just ended up with two new tires we probably didn’t need and still have a wobble. Now he is back studying the problem again. I figure by the time he has it figured out we will have invested in two more tires, a wheel and maybe still have a wobble. I think we should figure out what the problem really is, then spend the money to fix it. He thinks we should study the problem some more. How do I convince him we are doing this all bass-ackwards? —Unbalanced in Billings

Dear Unbalanced:
You make this sound much easier than it is. I think you are lucky to have a husband that likes to study the problem. It is hard to do business on the road. I like to think that most people are basically honest, but often they are studying the problem too, using your money.

The problem you describe is not an easy one to determine sometimes. Your wobble could be caused from a mechanical problem such as a bearing, tie-rod, or any number of front-end alignment parts. It could be a tire with belt separation, or out of round. If a tire dealer thinks you have a bent rim, let’s hope that is all it is. Most bone yards will sell you a used wheel with a money-back guarantee if the tire service finds it too is bent. If your tires have a lot of miles on them, replacing them is a good start and great insurance that they are not going to cause you more issues if they fail while being towed.


I think your husband deserves more credit than you give him. He has studied the problem, he has sought out a professional opinion, he has made the first purchase attempt at fixing the problem, and he has discovered possible additional causes. Often the problem can be multiple issues.

I would not wait long to get to the bottom of the problem. Towing a vehicle with issues is just asking for trouble. I would suggest second and third opinions with brake and alignment services and additional tire professionals. Unless you have an automotive Ouija board, I would suggest you give your husband a bit more respect and credit. He doesn’t sound like he is just throwing money at the problem, but going at it in a practical way. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his e-book: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.

 ##RVT868

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TomsqueakytikiTom Raines Perry Hall MDJim in NYGary Recent comment authors

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Tom
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Tom

Minor point. On our Honda Fit with destroyed wheel. Dealer price was $185. Amazon price $55. Depends upon need and time.
But, big ouch at dealer.

squeakytiki
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squeakytiki

I’m finding it difficult to believe the ‘shrink’ is actually a qualified Dr. of anything after that insulting response.

Tom Raines Perry Hall MD
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Tom Raines Perry Hall MD

Addressing the RV shrink. This matter was not handled by the husband in any way other than ” bass-ackwards”. If the tire dealer waited to inform the husband of the bent rim after the new tires were put on then the dealer did him an injustice as all four wheels could have been spun on the car to see where the wobble was coming from. If informed before the tires were purchased then the husband was wrong for not waiting to obtain a new rim. I am sure a rim for any flat-towed vehicle could be obtained somewhere near and… Read more »

Jim in NY
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Jim in NY

OK, so let me get this straight. The mechanic told you that the wheel was bent, so you got two new tires and kept the bent wheel. I think I would start by replacing the wheel first and eliminate the one item you know is bad that may certainly effect handling. If it still wobbles then study.

Gary
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Gary

My toad is a 2012 Smart Car and this problem appeared shortly after I set it up for towing. Fortunately I was prepared for the issue having read about it on a Smart Car forum before I started and had the solution on hand, a bungee cord looped through the steering wheel to help keep it centered.

Lanerd
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Lanerd

As Larry commented, your issue may be a very common one that is mostly regulated to vehicles with electric power steering. Jeeps, Equinox, Terrain, CRV, and others have all experience this problem. If you had given more info on the type, model, and year of your toad… would have been very helpful. However, go to just about any rv forum and you’ll find this issue pops up all the time. Good luck.

warmonk
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warmonk

Be careful where you go for a professional opinion. My guess is if you go to a brake specialist they will find a brake problem. If you go to a tire specialist they will find a tire problem. If you decide to go to psychic they will find a ghost problem. You get my point.

Larry Pate
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Larry Pate

You don’t say what type of toad you have are what bent the rim, We had a jeep and this wobble started and if you look in You tube under Death Wobble you will understand. It will show you how to fix it. Not saying that’s your problem. This drove us crazy, and there’s a easy way to check and see what the problem is.