There’s an endless list of automotive jargons out there. But there’s no other way to describe a specific feeling as if the car is floating.
This is when you’re driving, and it seems like the vehicle isn’t planted on the road as it should be. Your vehicle will feel like it’s going all over the place.
Like most car problems, this can be due to several reasons. You’re not going to get a check engine light or any engine codes that will allow you to plug in an OBD reader and diagnose your problem.
When getting the car checked, the chance is likely that you’ve got an issue with its tie rod. Other than that, you could have a problem with the vehicle’s bearing plates. Or, it could just be a side effect if you’ve recently had a bad car crash.
Either way, the problem can be dangerous if you don’t recognize it and get it sorted out immediately.
Your vehicle could feel like it’s floating for one of the reasons below:
1. Worn Tie Rod End
So, what exactly is a tie rod? The tie rod is the reason you’re able to turn your front wheels. It attaches the car’s steering rack to its steering knuckle.
In turn, the knuckle is connected to other steering components and the suspension, while the steering rack moves when you turn the wheel.
As a result, the rod is such an essential part of your steering system that you cannot turn the vehicle without it.
It is consistently in use (unless you only drive in straight lines), which takes a lot of wear and damage. When a tie rod end starts wearing out, the handling will become worse, giving you a floating sensation.
Signs Of a Bad Tie Rod End
So, how do you know that the tire rod end is worn out? For starters, the steering will start to feel loose.
You’ll also start getting more vibrations, and it’ll shake a lot, especially when you’re cornering. There could also be sounds of squealing when you’re turning. Plus, you’ll also get uneven tire wear.
How Much Is to Fix It?
Now, this depends on the type of vehicle you’ve got. Fixing an issue with such an important component can be pricey.
According to Car Treatments, the parts can cost up to $100. Add labor costs, and your total can go all the way up to $400. Make sure you get the car aligned after fixing the rod.
2. Bad Inner Tie Rod
There are two main parts of a tie rod: inner and outer. The former connects to the wheels while the latter connects to the steering rack.
The inner rod is usually the culprit when you experience a floating sensation. Unfortunately, it is more difficult and costlier to replace when it goes bad.
Signs Of a Bad Inner Tie Rod
A bad inner tie rod symptoms are similar to when your tie rod ends are worn out. Other specific signs include the wheels becoming unaligned.
You’ll also start getting clunking noises when you turn the wheel. If the car’s jacked up, then you can even move the tire manually.
How Much Is to Fix It?
The parts cost will be the same as above, so that’s not such a big problem. However, since the process is more time-consuming, you’ll have to pay more for labor.
So, you should expect to pay at least $150, and this amount can be doubled based on your car and region.
2. Bad Bearing Plates
This can apply to you if your vehicle has a strut-type suspension system, which is quite common. In this case, you can have damaged bearing plates.
The struts up front have these bearings that help steer the car. These bearing plates can get damaged due to wear, impact, or corrosion.
Signs Of Bad Bearing Plates
Bad bearing plates can bring about a lot of popping or creaking noises when you’re turning. Steering stiffness and looseness are other issues you can encounter.
The mount will also be more susceptible to excessive movement. Then there are the usual issues with alignment, uneven treadwear, and vibration.
How Much Is to Fix It?
Remember that you’ll have to replace the bearing if it is damaged. The parts are cheap in this case, but the labor costs can go above $150.
But if the upper bearing plate is the problem, then you’ll have to replace the entire strut. These have their own symptoms, and the cost is considerably higher.
4. Car Chassis Twisted After Crash
Often, a car crash is so bad that it ruins the chassis by bending the frame. This is the heftiest problem that you can encounter whenever your car feels like floating.
If the damage is considerable, you may be able to see irregularities beneath the vehicle. It destroys your alignment, but that’s the least of the problems.
It can also batter the vehicle’s suspension and its shock absorbers. This, in turn, ruins the car’s balance, making you think that it’s floating.
Some of the car’s parts may cease to fit on it. The car’s panels may seem dented or out of place. Even the doors may not properly close.
This is a problem that no one wants to encounter, but it is a cause for floating after a collision.
So, these were the causes of a vehicle that feels like floating when driven. Yes, floating can make a car feel undrivable. But more than that, it is very hazardous as far as safety is concerned.
You could lose control of the car eventually, and this can turn your car into a death trap.
Whenever you encounter this problem, you’re recommended to drive slowly. Driving on a highway is a big no-no.
It would be best to have your car checked by an automotive technician as soon as possible. As far as the causes are concerned, make sure you sort them out before the car loses control.
My name is Jeffrey Williams and I have been a car mechanic for over 35 years. I am currently working NYC Auto Repair Shop, in New York City and recently developed a strong passion about blogging. I decided to put together this blog where I will try and answer the most commonly asked questions I get on a daily basis from my customers.