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  #1  
Old 01/05/2008, 02:57 PM
MarkS MarkS is offline
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Question Car gurus...

I have a '98 Nissan Sentra.

In the past three weeks, I've changed the rear brakes, front brakes, crankshaft oil seal, spark plugs and wires, air filter, oil and oil filter, and the right side drive shaft (split boot). The problem I'm having is that when I'm driving on flat, smooth road, the steering wheel oscillates from side to side. If I take my hands off of the wheel, the car remains straight, but it looks like a child is pretending to drive. It has been doing this for months.

I thought that this was due to a ball on a tire, but I've had all four tires off and there is no ball. I thought it was the drive shaft, since a split boot will also cause this, but replacing it made no difference. While changing the front brakes, I noticed that the boot on the left side drive shaft is also cracked, but this is a rather fresh crack (the boot on the other side was split in two), so I doubt that it is the source of the problem. The front and rear struts are original to the car (and in bad shape) and were next on my to do list, until I saw the left side drive shaft. I don't think the struts are the issue here as this problem shows itself on smooth roadway.

What could be causing this? I can pretty much fix or replace anything on the car, short of the block, but I would have to know what to fix first. Any ideas?
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  #2  
Old 01/05/2008, 02:59 PM
xroads xroads is offline
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Sounds like a bad tire or bent wheel.
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  #3  
Old 01/05/2008, 03:02 PM
MarkS MarkS is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by xroads
Sounds like a bad tire or bent wheel.
The tires are old (also on my to do list) and the wheels are original OEM (WAY down the list...). I noticed that one of the wheels lost a lead balancing thingy, but I have no idea which wheel and I just noticed this last week.
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  #4  
Old 01/05/2008, 03:02 PM
carb850 carb850 is offline
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Have you rotated the tires? If not, might be a quick and easy thing to see if there is anything else going on with your tires.
  #5  
Old 01/05/2008, 03:06 PM
MarkS MarkS is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by carb850
Have you rotated the tires? If not, might be a quick and easy thing to see if there is anything else going on with your tires.
The engine rotates the tires just fine.

No, I have done nothing with the tires other than take them off and put them back on.
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  #6  
Old 01/05/2008, 03:16 PM
drauka99 drauka99 is offline
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if you know you are missing weights on the wheels then take the car in and fet the tires rotated and balanced. This might be your problem.
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  #7  
Old 01/05/2008, 03:19 PM
MarkS MarkS is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by drauka99
if you know you are missing weights on the wheels then take the car in and fet the tires rotated and balanced. This might be your problem.
The problem is that I park on the street. It could be from another car. The tires really need to be replaced and soon, so getting the current tires rotated and balanced doesn't make much sense.

Sounds like everyone is pretty much set on a tire/wheel issue.
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  #8  
Old 01/05/2008, 03:42 PM
drauka99 drauka99 is offline
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well thats the place to start

rotate abd balance for all 4 tires around here runs like 20-40 bucks, plus it will help you to get a few more miles out of those tires. Also you could have a warped rim and before you go buying new tires you need to know that so you can buy a new rim.
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  #9  
Old 01/05/2008, 09:43 PM
Muttling Muttling is offline
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You should have bought American. If you had, the entire power train would have dropped out long before this kind of thing hit.
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  #10  
Old 01/05/2008, 09:46 PM
MarkS MarkS is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Muttling
You should have bought American. If you had, the entire power train would have dropped out long before this kind of thing hit.


Actually, it was given to me by my dad.
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  #11  
Old 01/05/2008, 09:50 PM
Satori Satori is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Muttling
You should have bought American. If you had, the entire power train would have dropped out long before this kind of thing hit.
Not true at all. MarkS said that his Sentra has "well over 100k miles" on it and it has had all these problems. My Chevy truck has 220k miles on it and my drivetrain is solid, including no oil leaks, squeaks, or looseness.

And it's not like it's had an easy life. I go through the back tires.
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  #12  
Old 01/05/2008, 09:57 PM
MarkS MarkS is offline
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It has around 130K miles on it. My dad did nothing more than tune ups, brakes and such, so most of the parts are original.

The two most common problems with this car, as I've come to know, are the crankshaft oil seal leaking and the boots on the drive shafts cracking. Fortunately, these are easy to fix if you know what you're doing and have the tools, which I do.
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I drank some fish food but is OK cause it tasted GOOD ~ vr697getta

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  #13  
Old 01/05/2008, 10:35 PM
The Grim Reefer The Grim Reefer is offline
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Does the sympton change with speed? If it only happens at certain speeds that usually is an out of balance issue.

I've also seen a warped brake rotor cause a problem like that. You can usually feel a rotor problem by just barely hitting the brakes.

Bad U joint on either front drive shaft.

Easiest way to tell if its the tires would be to rotate front to back and see if it changes or eliminates the problem.
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  #14  
Old 01/05/2008, 10:42 PM
SteveNMegz SteveNMegz is offline
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Hey
If your steering wheel is loose it could be your Steering Rack is worn.
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  #15  
Old 01/05/2008, 10:53 PM
ThaNgBOm321 ThaNgBOm321 is offline
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id say the ball joint...

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