Are you experiencing a shaking vibration on your Gen 2 Tacoma steering? Is the shaking intermittent, usually starting between 40-70mph? Have you had the wheels balanced only to find the vibration returning after a week or two? If you’ve answered yes to any of the above questions then rest assured you are not alone and hopefully this article can shed some light as to what the actual cause of the vibrations could be. Stick around!
The 3rd Generation Tacoma steering shake can be caused by any of the following:
- Worn Intermediate shaft
- Tires out of spec
- Loose suspension components
- Worn drivetrain components
- Worn steering bushes
Many Tacoma owners have widely reported online via discussion forums how frustrating this steering vibration phenomenon is. What do Toyota dealerships have to say? Well many owners report that their Toyota dealerships fobbed it off as a Tacoma characteristic and a condition you just need to learn to live with. WOW! Hey, I don’t know about you, but I don’t buy explanation that for one second.
So, now that we know Toyota isn’t coming to the party with a recall or TSB, let’s see what steps Tacoma owners have taken in an attempt to resolve the vibration issue and with what success. At their own expense, might I add.
Tacoma Steering wheel shake [SOLVED]
Many Tacoma owners have reported limited to complete success by implementing any of the below fixes. Sometimes it’s just been something as simple as a tire shop using incorrect or sub-standard wheel weights. Other times it involves a lot more troubleshooting to nail down the culprit.
It appears it’s not always the same cause, with owners having limited success implementing one solution and others completely resolving the problem with another. So it’s kind of a hit and miss affair here. After many hours research I couldn’t nail it down to just one solution.
So let’s look at some of the solutions that have brought some relief to Tacoma owners shaking steering woes.
Let’s start with the most common solutions first … a worn Intermediate shaft.
Solution #1 – Worn Intermediate Shaft
The intermediate shaft is a steering component located below the steering and connects to the steering rack and pinion. Due to the shaft’s location and being hidden, usually behind a plastic cover, it could be hard to detect if the component is faulty. This means you’ll have to strip off the cover and manually check first to determine if it’s gone bad.
Test by physically shaking and wiggling the shaft with your hand. Excessive play in the shaft means it’s worn out and needs replacement. A worn intermediate shaft will result in play on the steering and vibrations felt from as low as 40mph. While you are there check all the bushings on the steering rack for play.
Fortunately, this is a relatively easy fix and requires no special tools or advanced equipment. Just make sure you secure your steering firmly before you start disconnecting the shaft so you don’t lose its original position. This could resulting in crooked steering wheel alignment when driving in a straight line. NOT COOL!
Watch the video below for more detailed instructions on how to replace the intermediate shaft component.
Solution #2 – Tires Out of Spec
It’s also widely reported that an unbalanced or ‘out of round’ tire, which is VERY hard to identify might I add, can be the cause of a vibrating steering. Now, what exactly do I mean by, ‘out of round’?
Simply put, once a tire is not 100% round in shape anymore it can cause all sorts of weird and wonderful problems. A steering vibration is one of them. The tire shape can wear unevenly due to worn out shock absorbers or dampers. Alternatively, you could have performed an emergency brake resulting in some skidding and an unnoticeable flat spot developing on a tire.
Or, the tire can simply be out of spec from the factory? Who knows?
Upon replacement of the factory standard tires and having those balanced 100% at a reputable tire shop has solved the annoying steering wheel vibration for many Tacoma owners.
That’s one expensive solution, I know!
Solution #3 – Loose Suspension Components
Loose suspension components are another cause, particularly when it’s not as obvious and somewhere in the rear. Have your Tacoma suspension components thoroughly inspected, particularly the rear leaf packs. These have been known to loosen over time, resulting in vibrations being sent through the chassis and being felt on the steering wheel.
If the axle housing isn’t tightened fully to the springs on one side, it can cause the rear end to shift slightly resulting in the driveshaft shaking/vibrating. It pushes the carrier bearing out of place. So always make sure that the carrier bearing is in line with the drive-shafts.
Solution #4 – Drivetrain components and other items to check
So there actually quite a few components that can result in vibrations being felt, either intermittently or consistently at speeds as low as 25mph all the way up to 70mph. Something as simple and cheap as hub rings or lug nuts can make you pull out your hair, and spend unnecessary cash, so start by checking the small, cheaper items first.
Make sure you inspect every component listed here.
- Check your hubs, are they hub centric?
- Are you using the original factory lug nuts?
- Are your lugs torqued securely to factory spec
- Inspect the rack and pinion and steering system for loose/worn components.
- Check all the bushings on the steering rack for play
- Have all wheels balanced DYNAMICALLY
- Make sure that the carrier bearing in the rear is in-line with the drive-shafts
- Check your intermediate shaft rubber bushing for excessive wear and tear.
What Tacoma users said about their shaking steering wheel
It has gotten progressively worse and now i cant take it. From about 45 to 70 it shakes really bad, so bad that the whole car shakes a little now. iv taken it to 3 different places and they say they fixed it but within 2 weeks its back. its not the balance because iv had that checks lots of times, anyone know what this could be?https://www.tacomaworld.com/threads/steering-wheel-shake.99531/
I recently purchased a 2021 Tacoma Limited – Army Green. I immediately noticed a vibration through the steering wheel. I took it back to the dealer for rebalancing, but was told everything was ok and that the vibration was a characteristic of new Tacoma’s. I am trying to verify that statement. Don’t get me wrong, the vibrations are minor but annoying, it’s just that I don’t think it should be there. Wrote a letter to the President of Toyota North America and got a call from an assistant who conferred with my dealer and others (?) and confirmed it was a characteristic that I would have to live with. Tying to see if others are also having this concern, thank you.https://tacoma3g.com/threads/steering-wheel-vibration.11650/
I have been having a problem with steering wheel shake off and on for the last 10,000 miles (my truck now has just under 18,000 miles on it). It started when I got my new wheels put on and had to have discount tire balance them 3 times before finally taking it to the dealer to have them do it. They have done it twice now.https://www.tacomaworld.com/threads/steering-wheel-shake.514167/
It’s normally not too bad since most of my driving is around town at about 60 mph max. I do get minor steering wheel shake around 55 mph once in a while but it’s much worse when I go on trips where speed limits are 75 mph. I have tried searching but haven’t found much.
The thing that is confusing me is that it is so random. Sometimes I will be driving with the cruise control set around 75 and everything is smooth and then go around a curve or the road surface changes and then all of a sudden the steering wheel is shaking. I thought it was mostly gone until my trip to Dallas this weekend.