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Erratic Handling


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My ’98 ES300 currently has 190K miles on it. I bought it when it had roughly 90K miles on it. I’ve been having a handling problem. My steering has been rather erratic on the highway. When I say erratic, I mean that it feels like I’m directly behind a tractor trailer and I get the sensation that the car is buffeting around or wind blown. Hopefully this makes sense to you.

My front suspension was getting pretty tired (clunking a lot), so I decided to replace it. While I was at it, I decided to replace some other front end components in an effort to rectify my handling problem. Accordingly, I changed the following:

New front struts (KYB)

Strut mounts

Struts bearings

Strut bumpers

Lower ball joints (Moog)

Tierod ends (Moog)

I needed new tires (Michelin Primacy MXV4)

Then I had an alignment done

After all this, the car ride smooth, it tracks well, but I still get this buffeting sensation. My rear suspension appears to be fine, but it is probably original.

What am I missing? Are there other components that I should look at?

Thank you!



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Hi thomas, I am Ben, I have a 97 ES300 with 163,000 miles. I put the kyb's on mine. But

sometimes allignment jobs can be done incorrectly. Sears did ours, and the van we have is horrible on the road. but thats not sounding like what your experiencing. fisrst did you get those tires balanced?

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I had the new tires installed in pairs. The first set was installed on the rear, and that was prior to the new suspension parts being installed. An alignment was also performed after the first pair of tires was installed. It was after the first two tires were installed and the alignment done that the car seems more erratic on the highway. I assume that the tires were balanced, though there are no balancing weights on the outside of the rim.

I had the second pair of tires installed after the front suspension work was performed. And they re-did the alignment for me at this point. The front tires do have balancing weights on the outside of the rim.

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1) Have the tires rotated, and the current rear ones re-balanced by a different shop. See if the erratic handling changes or vanishes.

2) Check for diamond frame - I don't think that's what you're looking at here, but you should eliminate this.

Measure (with a regular measuring tape) from the exact center of the left rear wheel to the exact center of the left front wheel, and repeat the measurement on the right side. If one side is longer than the other, you've got problems. My 97 Ford Exploder currently has that problem. DAMN American cars.

3) Check out your steering column, steering rack, and damper. I don't know how these could cause your problem, but you've already eliminated most of my guesses.

4) Have it re-aligned by a different (better) shop, one that uses a new, modern laser alignment machine.

Just my ideas.


Pete Zaria.

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