Question: I hit a curb going about 15 mph in my 2005 Ford Explorer, which was very embarrassing. I took it to two different people and had the alignment checked. One said it was perfect, and the other said it was slightly out of alignment. They also said I had a wheel bearing going out on the opposite side of the side I hit. It had some play in it. I had the wheel hub bearing replaced and the wheels balanced. Now, I have a vibration at 55-60 mph. Is there any way I could've damaged the tire or maybe bent the steel belt? The mechanic said everything looked good and nothing was bent. I'm having the wheels rebalanced to make sure.

Answer: Did the vibration begin immediately after hitting the curb? If the answer is yes, the technician may have missed a bent wheel, hub, or a bad tire while inspecting for damage. Also, if you feel the vibration in the steering wheel, the problem is up front; if you feel it in the seat of your pants, it's in the rear.

If the vibration was not there before having the wheel bearing replaced and the wheels balanced, the cause may be a number of things. They may have misbalanced the wheels (it happens), or rotated the tires and put a bad tire and/or bent wheel from the rear to the front. It's also possible the wheel bearing was not installed properly, it's loose, or the hub was bent in the process.

This should not be difficult to diagnose. If the vibration is felt in the steering wheel, then rotate the tires. If the vibration is then gone, or felt in the rear, you now have a bad tire or bent wheel in the back. If there's no change, they have to look more closely at the front hubs, wheel bearings, and suspension. Remember, a tire can look great, balance perfectly, and still produce a vibration or shimmy due to internal damage. A road-force variation equipped tire balancer is a good tool to help determine if that's that case. Or, again, just rotate and see if the vibration relocates with the problem tire.


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