Steering wheel jerk left & right while driving over40
Today I test drove an 01 430 that I really liked until I went above 40. The steering wheel moved left and right quickly as I drove. The salesman said it was probably just the alignment. Is he right, or could it be something more serious?
Also, since the dealer is servicing and selling it, will they be honest with me about this and any other problems? They have serviced the car since new and are the only Lexus dealer in my city.
Should an independent mechanic look at it before I buy?
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Warped front brake rotors if bad enough can cause a "shaking" of the steering wheel when the brakes are used. If it's happening while the brakes are not being applied I suppose if really warped, like the worst case ever could cause the wheel to shake. I would have a mechanic check it out and negotiate the cost of the inspection and repair out of the purchase price. Does the dealer offer any type of warranty to cover this type of repair if they won't budge on the price of the car?
Actually, I haven't made an offer yet, so I don't know if they will or won't budge on price. This would be my first Lexus. I was afraid to offer because of the steering issue. The only other problem with the car was the stereo was low and crackled.
Otherwise, all the power buttons worked. Back seats reclined, massage still works, electric screen in back was good. I went to the rest room before my test drive and when I returned it was running....but I didn't know it. It was that quiet. I could not tell if it was on when stopped at lights. I think I may love this car. I had a nice Mercedes. I liked my Bmw more than the Mercedes, but I really like this car.
In fact, although the steering wheel has a bad shimmy, no feeling of vibration was transferred to passengers as I drove.
I researched more and found that it could be as simple as an alignment or more complex such as tie rods or steering linkage.
Mostly, I want to know if this sounds scary and something to avoid.
I think I may love this car. Did I mention how much I really like this car?
One other thing to check -
You have an Ultra Luxury (UL) car since it has reclining rear seats - assuming that it is a US model.
Make sure that they put it up on a lift so you can visually check all 4 air suspension bags (not to be confused with collision protection air bags). Have the mechanic show you that the bags and shock absorbers have no leaks. This is definitely not a sure-fire check because they can fail any time without any visible damage. Also run the height from normal to high and back a few times with the car sitting and your foot on the ground (through the open door). All 4 corners should rise and fall evenly.
Many owners have no problems with them after many miles, but the parts alone cost about $1000-$1200 per corner. That makes a "good deal" a lot less attractive. Of course, if they will give you some kind of warranty, that would be fantastic.
Also, ask for the service records. If they refuse to make them available, citing "privacy", ask that they black out the owner's name. I would also go to the Lexus web site, create a logon ID, enter the VIN, and check the service history. All service performed at a Lexus dealer will be recorded although it is in an abbreviated form.
Buying it from a dealer it should have everything working on it before you buy it. I would not take the chance otherwise. Jerking left and right above 40 does sound a bit dangerous if you're not hitting the brakes... maybe some serious suspension problems. I don't think you mentioned how many miles are on it...
1. 2004 Mercury Metallic LS 430 - 52K and counting...slowly
2. 2002 Millennium Silver LS 430 - 132K
3. 2004 Toyota Tundra...111K
4. 2001 Toyota 4Runner... the previous daily driver... SOLD
5. 2000 Mazda Miata 5 spd... the new daily driver.
6. 1998 LS400 Pearl White and back in the saddle at 203k
Is this while cruising or when the brakes are depressed? If it does this only when applying brakes it's almost certainly brake rotors.
If it's not while the brakes are being pressed, my "shoot from the hip" guess is something is wrong with the tires. They could have flat spots or a belt separated. I've had that happen on a different car and fortunately the tires were still under warranty.
I personally don't think it's an "alignment", usually a bad alignment and the car would not track straight or pull in a different direction, the steering wheel jerking back and forth sounds like something different.
It could also be something though like a bad tie rod or a bad suspension part from a minor curb collision. That should be easy for them to find.
Bottom line, I would not buy it with the "promise" that they'll make it right. I would only buy it after they fix it. A Lexus dealer should at the very least have the car road worthy before selling it.