What’s causing a vibration in my car’s steering column?

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader experiencing vibrations in his car’s steering column.

A long line of unsold 2021 Q50 sedans
The Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader experiencing vibrations in his car’s steering column. AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Q. I own a 2013 Infiniti JX35 (today’s QX60) and recently have been experiencing a suspension issue. When driving at high speed, as well when the car goes over a bump or over a pothole, I experience a vibration through the steering column. It feels as if the wheels are vibrating. I have replaced the shocks (Infiniti OEM parts) along with lower control arms and sway bars (also OEM parts). I have had the tie-rods checked out by a mechanic. I’ve also had the tires balanced as well as alignment checked. While the ride has improved with the suspension parts replaced, the problem has not been fixed. The mechanic has also checked out the steering column itself.  Wondering what else could be driving this feeling of wheel vibration through the steering column.


A. This model Infiniti is very fussy about wheel balance and suspension wear. There are several technical bulletins about the proper procedure in balancing the wheels. In addition, there are notes about checking the ball joints and control arms (transverse link). Even the slightest movement requires replacement. Since those items have been replaced, the next step is to look at the power steering itself. The other tip that I have read is the power steering pump may need an insulator (a fancy foam ring) that isolates power steering vibrations and noise.

Q. I ordered a Chevy 2500 extended cargo van on April 30, 2021. You read that right, 2021. It has still not been built. After finally contacting the general manager where I ordered the van I was told the holdup is that I ordered an 8-cylinder engine. They offered to get me a 6-cylinder engine that they felt reasonably confident they could order through a dealership they own in Florida. However, it would be a GMC Savana. I have no problems with a Savana. (There has been a $5,000 increase in the vans since I ordered mine). I have followed a GMC blog and someone posted that 8-cylinder engines are not being offered in vans anymore, but I cannot find any info stating this. After they showed me the build sheet, I noticed that Bluetooth was not listed. When I questioned this, I was informed that it is only available with the 8-cylinder engine. That doesn’t seem right to me as I cannot see what one has to do with the other. My questions to you are; are 8-cylinder engines being offered in vans anymore? Do you have any thoughts on the 6-cylinder engine for an extended cargo van? What, if anything, does Bluetooth have to do with an 8-cylinder? Do you know what the holdup is on building these vehicles after almost 2 years? Have you ever heard of GM price protection?


A. I looked on the GMC website and the 6-cylinder engine is quite robust at 276 horsepower and 296 foot pounds of torque, and it is the standard engine for this extended wheelbase 2500 series van. The 8-cylinder engine is a little over 400 horsepower and shows available. This is the same configuration for the Chevrolet Express cargo van. The dealer is correct that the Bluetooth communications package, according to the website, is only available with the V-8 engine as a factory option. Supply chain issues and semiconductor chips are still a problem. Looking at both GMC and Chevrolet’s websites, there is very limited inventory of both vehicles on dealer lots or in transit to dealers. In fact I found no 2022 V-8 engine extended wheelbase vans in stock within 250 miles of my zip code. Regarding price protection, from what I have read, the big print states that if the vehicle was ordered during a certain time frame, the price won’t go up. The little print states that there are exclusions, and commercial vehicles may be one of them. 

Q. I have a 2011 Chevy Traverse and just got a new AAA battery installed by a AAA tech. While installing I noticed a black tube and asked what that was used for, and tech said it was to air vent the battery. He noted that my battery was missing the elbow air unit to attach and advised me to get one asap. Do I need one of these air kits and should I get a tech to install it?


A. All batteries give off fumes, and when they are under the hood, it is not a problem. In your Traverse, the battery is located in the car, so there is a vent tube to allow gasses to escape and prevent corrosion. You should get the vent installed, and any mechanic or DIY’er should be able to put the vent tube assembly back in the car. These vent kits are available at most auto parts stores. 

Q. What are your thoughts on using a torque wrench on oil drain plugs? I recently saw a mechanic changing oil using a battery impact driver. When I asked he said he has it set to the proper torque. 

A. You can’t accurately tighten any fastener with a power tool, battery or air. Drain plugs have different specifications. On one of my vehicles, the drain plug is tightened to 25 to 32-foot pounds. On the other vehicle (both 4-cylinder engines) the other is 18-foot pounds. When in doubt, use a torque wrench. 

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE-certified master technician. E-mail your car question to [email protected]. Listen to the Car Doctor podcast at


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on