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Is there a way for a mechanic to tell a tire that’s having “tire separation” without any outward signs?
I’m getting a lot of cabin vibration in the 30-40mph range. It just started last week. I had a bunch of repairs done in June including tire rotation and balancing and alignment...and right tie rod(didn’t know it was even worn but whatevs).
These tires are Goodyear Viva 3, from Walmart. They have only 3k miles on them. I always got Yokohama but it’s an old suv now and I don’t want to put a lot into it.
For the record, when I had work done they included an estimate to replace the shocks/struts, which have leaked. I’ve had worn shocks/struts on previous vehicles but never had this vibration...just the standard nose-dive and slogging over bumps(obvs I got the assemblies replaced at that point)...my RAV doesn’t do any of that, just this vibration. It’s super upsetting bc most of my driving is in the city where the speed limit is in the 30-45 range, so obvs I’m experiencing this a lot of the time.
I’m not sure what to do now. I’ve considered having a garage throw on some random tires to see if that proves that one of these tires is bad...is that insane? I just am at my wits end...I don’t know how they test for a “bad tire” when they all look fine and are super low-mileage...but driving this thing is making me crazy bc it feels like it’s going to shake itself apart...I’m scared to leave town on the highway. In all fairness, I’ve driven it as a test on back highways and it doesn’t vibrate below 30-40 or above it like at highway speed...but no way am I confident enough in it to drive an hour out of town in heavy traffic.
Please...any advice would be super!
Denise
 

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Hi Denise. The first question is, how do you feel the sensation? Is it in the steering, can you see the steering wheel vibrate or move side to side while driving, or do you fee it through the seat? If through the seat, it would lead me to think “rear” instead of front. Can you hear it from one side or the other? The reason I ask is that the chances of one tire going already with only 3000 miles is pretty slim. The chances of more than one on the same vehicle going at 3000 are pretty astronomical. If you can pinpoint that it’s a tire, you can do a rotation yourself in the driveway to see if the nature of the problem changes or moves. If you feel it around 35, do you feel it twice as bad at 70? Or does its pitch change continuously with speed (ie gets louder/worse steadily with increasing speed)? If it’s a tire problem it would be twice as fast at double the speed. However if it’s a bearing, that gets steadily worse as speed increases.

If you can feel it coming from one corner then you can swap the full size spare (unless you don’t have one) on and see if the problem goes away. We at least have that advantage with the outside tire.
 

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Hi Denise. The first question is, how do you feel the sensation? Is it in the steering, can you see the steering wheel vibrate or move side to side while driving, or do you fee it through the seat? If through the seat, it would lead me to think “rear” instead of front. Can you hear it from one side or the other? The reason I ask is that the chances of one tire going already with only 3000 miles is pretty slim. The chances of more than one on the same vehicle going at 3000 are pretty astronomical. If you can pinpoint that it’s a tire, you can do a rotation yourself in the driveway to see if the nature of the problem changes or moves. If you feel it around 35, do you feel it twice as bad at 70? Or does its pitch change continuously with speed (ie gets louder/worse steadily with increasing speed)? If it’s a tire problem it would be twice as fast at double the speed. However if it’s a bearing, that gets steadily worse as speed increases.

If you can feel it coming from one corner then you can swap the full size spare (unless you don’t have one) on and see if the problem goes away. We at least have that advantage with the outside tire.
Ty for ur reply! No the steering wheel is fine...no shaking or anything. The shaking doesn’t change pitch or speed it just kinda happens at 30-40mph. It’s quiet at highway speed.
The steering feels fine. I’ve listened for noise when turning but there’s nothing.
The vibration feels like the whole cabin—not the steering wheel cuz that’s fine, and not the passenger seat really, it’s more like the whole interior, like the door compartments and the dash compartment ...i keep stuff in all of those cubbies—kids nose wipes, gum, sanitizer, etc—in each cubby I put the stuff in organizers and those all vibrate. I took all the stuff out and the vibration was the same(just minus the vibrating gum haha).
My spare...I forgot to get a Goodyear for that hanging one. I’ve still got an AT Yokohama there...for all the good it will do, I can’t mix it w these touring tires.
This is really freaking me out... I’m starting to wonder if it’s mounts that are broken like the engine or transmission mounts???
 

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Ty for ur reply! No the steering wheel is fine...no shaking or anything. The shaking doesn’t change pitch or speed it just kinda happens at 30-40mph. It’s quiet at highway speed.
The steering feels fine. I’ve listened for noise when turning but there’s nothing.
The vibration feels like the whole cabin—not the steering wheel cuz that’s fine, and not the passenger seat really, it’s more like the whole interior, like the door compartments and the dash compartment ...i keep stuff in all of those cubbies—kids nose wipes, gum, sanitizer, etc—in each cubby I put the stuff in organizers and those all vibrate. I took all the stuff out and the vibration was the same(just minus the vibrating gum haha).
My spare...I forgot to get a Goodyear for that hanging one. I’ve still got an AT Yokohama there...for all the good it will do, I can’t mix it w these touring tires.
This is really freaking me out... I’m starting to wonder if it’s mounts that are broken like the engine or transmission mounts???
Hmm. Well first off, you can switch the spare in with the others for testing. From information from the other members on this forum, the 4wd system can tolerate slightly different tread depths, as long as the tire sizes are the same (you didn’t change up to larger tires or wheels for example).

Next, is this something you could have a passenger capture on a video or do an audio recording? Maybe have someone sit in the front passenger or rear middle and see if they can help you pinpoint it... if yes and you can post it, that can sometimes help with finding the source of the problem.
 
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Did you have the recall done for the expoxy rear lower control arm? If you did that means they can't do a wheel alignment for the rear unless the lower control arms are replaced first.
 

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Did you have the recall done for the expoxy rear lower control arm? If you did that means they can't do a wheel alignment for the rear unless the lower control arms are replaced first.
No, I haven't had it done....yet... I've been debating it. I'm uncomfortable with never being able to have the alignment corrected like a "normal" vehicle, plus Toyota's attitude was really lousy. The 'glueing process'(I'm rolling my eyes) takes less than an hour but the epoxy needs like 8 hrs to dry before you can move the vehicle...I can't sit and wait literally all day for glue to dry, and the dealer doesn't have a customer vehicle(even before Covid) so it's up to the customer to get from/back to the dealership...which makes me ultra irritable since other dealers have dedicated vehicles they use for customer pickup/dropoff. I really really don't like this dealership's service department and that's primarily why I haven't had it done yet.
There was a recall for "sudden acceleration" several years ago. I had stopped into their quick-lube for an oil change--a fast service...suddenly I see the tech disappear with my car, and drive off down the street. I'm all kinds of confused. He comes back an hour later, and the RAV is done...so I'm like, where'd you go--to get a part? He said, no I took care of the recall for sudden acceleration...and then proudly shows me the 'Toyota authorized fix'--he sawed my gas pedal in half!!!! It was literally a stump of what it used to be!!! I nearly fainted... Had I known that was the official fix I would have said no, and that is their idea of a fix?! I called my ex brother in law to see if I had been scammed(he's one of the owners of a multi-brand dealership where I used to live)--and he said that it was right--that was the Toyota fix, but he said normally they let the customer know before they go and chop up their gas pedal.
So yea, sorry to be long...but my dealings with the dealer are why I have 'trust issues'. haha
 

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Do you have 4WD? If you do maybe it is a worn rear drive shaft.
 

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Do you have 4WD? If you do maybe it is a worn rear drive shaft.
yes it's AWD. I had a bunch of repairs done in June for NYS inspection, and they included an estimate for a rear drive shaft because there 'was a spot of rust' on it. (They also charged $60 for new wipers which I normally would replace myself but since they had it...)
I've been googling drive shaft sounds for the last week and I don't have any of the symptoms they show in the videos. I was contemplating having the drive shaft replaced just to see if that would fix the problem, but I'm not excited to spend $1k on a possible solution that may or may not solve the problem. I'm most likely going to take it to another place to get it looked at--at least put it on the lift and see if they see 'a spot of rust'.
 

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yes it's AWD. I had a bunch of repairs done in June for NYS inspection, and they included an estimate for a rear drive shaft because there 'was a spot of rust' on it. (They also charged $60 for new wipers which I normally would replace myself but since they had it...)
I've been googling drive shaft sounds for the last week and I don't have any of the symptoms they show in the videos. I was contemplating having the drive shaft replaced just to see if that would fix the problem, but I'm not excited to spend $1k on a possible solution that may or may not solve the problem. I'm most likely going to take it to another place to get it looked at--at least put it on the lift and see if they see 'a spot of rust'.
A “spot of rust” on the shaft isn’t an issue, but the issue would be any of the joints sticking. Seems to be the age now where this is coming to light. We’ve had 2-3 members recently with driveshaft issues. IIRC One replaced the shaft and one was able to have the stuck joints replaced at a specialty shop for less $$.
 
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I was able to get time today to check my tire pressures. They were all a bit wonky. The shop had set them at 35, but I always put in 32lbs...so says the door. So I adjusted them and set them all at 32. The ride seems smoother. I still want to have another mechanic check that drive shaft(I'm crying inside if that's the case).
I wanted to snap a pic of the tires too. Sorry this post is running long...
The tires have these funky rubber bits on them like they got cut out of mold and nobody polished down the edges. My yokohama's were never like this. They had those rubber feeler thingies that new tires all have that make them look like a sea creature, but these cheapos have weird irregular rubbery bits I've never seen. I'll try to attach a pic in the comments here. I'm not sure if that's normal or not...I haven't seen it....
155547
155549
 

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I was able to get time today to check my tire pressures. They were all a bit wonky. The shop had set them at 35, but I always put in 32lbs...so says the door. So I adjusted them and set them all at 32. The ride seems smoother. I still want to have another mechanic check that drive shaft(I'm crying inside if that's the case).
I wanted to snap a pic of the tires too. Sorry this post is running long...
The tires have these funky rubber bits on them like they got cut out of mold and nobody polished down the edges. My yokohama's were never like this. They had those rubber feeler thingies that new tires all have that make them look like a sea creature, but these cheapos have weird irregular rubbery bits I've never seen. I'll try to attach a pic in the comments here. I'm not sure if that's normal or not...I haven't seen it.... View attachment 155547 View attachment 155549
That’s simply moulding flash, and won’t affect the tire at all. Same kind of thing with plastic parts.
 

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A “spot of rust” on the shaft isn’t an issue, but the issue would be any of the joints sticking. Seems to be the age now where this is coming to light. We’ve had 2-3 members recently with driveshaft issues. IIRC One replaced the shaft and one was able to have the stuck joints replaced at a specialty shop for less $$.
I’m so sorry to be a pest! Is there a noise or symptom to look for if it’s sticking? I saw vids about it but nothing made me go ‘ah ha! That’s mine!’
The only vids i could find shows the shaft while the car is on the lift and u can see it’s obvs flopping around..but I haven’t heard anything inside that raises any alarm bells...
ty too for being so helpful! Cars r super stressful:(
 

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That’s simply moulding flash, and won’t affect the tire at all. Same kind of thing with plastic parts.
Ty! A new word I’ll remember too! I thought it must b ok since the garage did all the things to pass inspection—figured(hoped) they’d notice funky tires...glad to know it’s normal!
 

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I’m so sorry to be a pest! Is there a noise or symptom to look for if it’s sticking? I saw vids about it but nothing made me go ‘ah ha! That’s mine!’
The only vids i could find shows the shaft while the car is on the lift and u can see it’s obvs flopping around..but I haven’t heard anything inside that raises any alarm bells...
ty too for being so helpful! Cars r super stressful:(
No problem at all, we’re all here to help or be helped. Although My RAV is approaching the right age for this, I’ve got a FWD, so no driveshaft at all. I think DL175 (contributed above) actually had this problem. When he gets back to the conversation he might be able to elaborate a bit more on his situation.
 
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Your tires look fine from your pictures. The extra rubber flaps are just from manufacturing.
Very strange the problem you're having. If you have a 4 wheel drive Rav4, then you can easily remove (or have a local garage remove it) your driveshaft and drive around without it for a week, to determine if the U joints on it are stuck causing the vibration. Usually the vibration gets worse with speed, not go away.
I suspected a bad CV joint also, but the same as the driveshaft, they usually get worse with speed. Your garage should be able to easily rule that out.
I'm betting you have a bad tire(s) because you mentioned that lowering the air pressure seemed to help and driving different speeds made the problem come and go.
Usually tires that have broken belts show the signs on the outside edge by bulging in the area that it's broken. A good test would be to replace the 4 tires with others just to try it.
Why aren't they trying to help at Walmart, where you bought them, or are they?

Good luck....
 
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You can disconnect the 4WD ECU to see if the driveshaft is the problem. Just remove the glove box and disconnect the harness to the 4WD ECU . Make sure you disconnect the correct one because there is another similar harness behind the glove box also.

155565
 

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Your tires look fine from your pictures. The extra rubber flaps are just from manufacturing.
Very strange the problem you're having. If you have a 4 wheel drive Rav4, then you can easily remove (or have a local garage remove it) your driveshaft and drive around without it for a week, to determine if the U joints on it are stuck causing the vibration. Usually the vibration gets worse with speed, not go away.
I suspected a bad CV joint also, but the same as the driveshaft, they usually get worse with speed. Your garage should be able to easily rule that out.
I'm betting you have a bad tire(s) because you mentioned that lowering the air pressure seemed to help and driving different speeds made the problem come and go.
Usually tires that have broken belts show the signs on the outside edge by bulging in the area that it's broken. A good test would be to replace the 4 tires with others just to try it.
Why aren't they trying to help at Walmart, where you bought them, or are they?

Good luck....
Our walmart auto center is closed because of Covid...still..... (eye roll).
I want to get it into a local shop and have them just put it on the lift and see if they see anything wonky, but everyone has weird hours, and you have to wait for it in an un-airconditioned place or outside(it's in the 90's here)--and trying to deal with heat and wearing a diaper on my face(haha) makes it frustrating. I'm hoping to get a cooler day soon so I can just bring it in for a look-over.
 

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You can disconnect the 4WD ECU to see if the driveshaft is the problem. Just remove the glove box and disconnect the harness to the 4WD ECU . Make sure you disconnect the correct one because there is another similar harness behind the glove box also.

View attachment 155565
This is super-interesting! TY for the info!!!
The gas station I go to all the time--the guy said if you ever have a problem with the driveshaft, don't let them talk you into getting two(??) because the awd rav can drive with just one driveshaft....
I wasn't sure why he was telling me--prob because they were working on a rav and he was just making convo?
I think I'll pop in there next week and see if they can do this for me and see how it runs.
I don't have a problem getting a driveshaft replaced, if that's the actual problem...but I'm not a mechanic. I just go by noise and know it's not sounding the way it normally does.
 

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This is super-interesting! TY for the info!!!
The gas station I go to all the time--the guy said if you ever have a problem with the driveshaft, don't let them talk you into getting two(??) because the awd rav can drive with just one driveshaft....
I wasn't sure why he was telling me--prob because they were working on a rav and he was just making convo?
I think I'll pop in there next week and see if they can do this for me and see how it runs.
I don't have a problem getting a driveshaft replaced, if that's the actual problem...but I'm not a mechanic. I just go by noise and know it's not sounding the way it normally does.
There is only one rear drive shaft in your car. You can drive it without one if that is what he meant or maybe he was talking about the cv axle in the front.
 
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