Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Camaro Issue

~9:45: Picked up the new 2013 Camaro today and left my old 2012 at Thayer.

I've had my 2012 Camaro for four months now. The steering wheel shakes when I drive it. The shaking goes away after a few miles. Until recently. Now the shaking will happen for a few miles, then stop, then start again after a few more miles. Below are the overview and specifics regarding my issue. The bottom line is that GM won't fix it, and I don't think that's right.

I've classified the shaking into three categories:
1 - Barely noticeable. You really have to look to see the shaking.
2 - Obvious, but not bad.
3 - Bad. This is the level that makes me nervous.

Note: I only added these categories on 12-Oct. I wish I would have done that from the beginning, but I didn't. When the shaking occurs, 80% of the time it's level 2. I'm not sure that I'd have a problem if it only got as bad as level 2, but level 3 makes me nervous. I would guess that level 3 represents 5-10% of the total shaking time.


  • Bought car 24-May-2012
  • Steering wheel shook when I took it for a test drive. Salesperson said that I drove it on a bad section of freeway and said I should drive it again in a different place. I did and there was no shaking.
  • Steering wheel shakes most mornings and usually goes away after a few miles. Lately, the shaking happens beyond the first 5-10 miles and it now comes and goes.
  • Dealer in Bowling Green, OH replaced the front tires in July. It didn't help.
  • Steering wheel still shakes. I was informed that there was a bulletin put out on the tires that claims the tires get a flat spot when sitting, and that causes the steering wheel to shake for the first few miles of driving. Because of that, there is nothing the dealer can do.
  • Dealer advised that I contact customer assistance. I did and they said they can't fix it for me because it's a "characteristic" of the tires. 
  • 3-Oct-2012: Took car to dealer again, and they had to replace the right front tire because it had a high road-force variation. Shaking is still happening.

    More Details

    The car has about 2500 miles on it.

    25-Sep-2012: Person1 (dealer) just called. My notes:
  • Can't offer anything under warranty because it's a "characteristic" of the tire. Person1 will send me the bulletin on the tires. My tires are very expensive to replace. Eventually this condition should subside as the tires wear down over time. Only two make this size tire: Pirelli, BF Goodrich.
  • Person1 suggests that I wait for the Michelin Pilot Sports to make this size tire. They're great.
  • I told him that I appreciated how courteous and respectful that he has been, but this decision bothers me and that "characteristic" classification is horse crap. I paid $40K for a new car and the steering wheel shouldn't shake. I told him that I was going to take this further. He suggested two things: Other dealer (where I bought the car) may be willing to take rims and tires off another Camaro for me. Or: To go above the dealer: 800-222-1020 Chevy Customer Assistance.
  • Doc ID #2886262 (tire bulletin)

  • 25-Sep-2012 (later that day):
    Jaret (from dealership where I purchased the car) just called. I explained the situation to him. He said he's going to look into it, work with his service manager, and call me back today.

    25-Sep-2012 (6:12 PM):
    I just called Jaret (original dealer) because he hasn't called me back yet. He talked to the service manager (Ben) and there is nothing they can do. The bulletin is specific - dealer should refrain from attempting to fix.

    25-Sep-2012 (6:49 PM):
    Called Chevy Customer Assistance: 800-222-1020, 3, 4 
    Talked to Gina (direct 866-790-5600 x32976)
    I gave her all of the info. She put me on hold and called the dealer. Person1 had already gone home. So now Gina is going to talk to Person1 tomorrow and call me back. She asked me how I thought GM should fix this. I told her I didn't care; I simply want my steering wheel to stop shaking. They can put on new tires, new wheels, whatever...

    27-Sep-2012 (1:42 PM):
    Mary (866-790-5700 x22847) just called. They are sending my case to a district specialist for further review. Someone will call me within 24 hours. They need to get into contact with service manager area rep.

    28-Sep-2012 (1:29 PM):
    Desiree just called. She said the steering wheel shaking is a normal feature, so there is nothing else they can do. I told her that was BS, and that she should be embarrassed to actually say that to someone. She said legal recourse is the only other option because I'm talking to a district level specialist, which is the highest level of customer assistance. I told her this is unacceptable and asked for her manager. She said her manager is Josh. He can call me within 24 hours.

    29-Sep-2012 (~4:00 PM):
    Josh left me a voice message. He said he was calling because I requested to speak with him. Then he said if I have any further questions, please contact Desiree.

    29-Sep-2012 (~4:30 PM):
    I used my caller ID to call Josh and left him a message. I asked him why he would direct me to Desiree again. Then I told him I simply want my steering wheel to stop shaking, so please call me to discuss it.

    1-Oct-2012 (~8:30 AM):
    My steering wheel shook for just about the entire 17-mile drive to work this morning. Somewhere in the middle of my drive the shaking stopped for a mile or two. Then it came back. So the shaking is no longer going away after a few miles.

    1-Oct-2012 (~5:45 PM):
    This is getting comical. A day or two ago I posted my problem online at Chevy's web site. I just got an email with the subject "Robert, here's the Chevrolet information you requested." It's all about shopping for a new car and how great their products are. Obviously someone didn't bother to read my complaint.

    1-Oct-2012 (~6:00 PM):
    Talk about comical... Josh called and left me a voice message again. He again left Desiree's number. I called him back (512-386-0692) and actually spoke with him this time. I started by asking him why he would leave me Desiree's number when I was looking to speak with him. He said that Desiree handles my case and that I should speak with her regarding issues. I explained that I already spoke with her, and I was looking to talk to Josh now. So how does that help to get her number again? He said something like: "Mr. Horn, how can I help you?" I said that I'd like him to answer my question first. He replied that he left Desiree's number because she could forward me to Josh. I told him that's different than the first answer he gave me. He again asked how he could help me. I told him that I wanted him to answer my question because I'd like to know if he's going to be honest with me. Anyway, we eventually got to the issue and he stuck by the old line of that's just how the car is and there is nothing they can do. I asked for his manager and he said they don't provide that information because it's proprietary. So I then asked: "My only recourse at this time is to take legal action?" He said if that's what I want to do, yes. I told him that my car is now worse than before. The shaking is not going away after a few miles. I explained how it shook the whole ride to work this morning. He said I'd need to take it to the dealer again. He asked if Desiree should call me to see how it's going, and I told him no because they haven't been helpful... What's the point?

    Called Person1 at Thayer Chevrolet in Bowling Green. I explained that the steering wheel shook for my entire 17-mile ride to work (except for roughly a mile or two in the middle of the ride when it didn't shake). Anyway, he said that's different than before, so bring the car back in so they can test some things. Side note: Person1 has been super nice and sincere throughout this whole process.

    3-Oct-2012 - VINDICATION!
    I took the car into Thayer Chevrolet at 8:00 AM. At about 1:30 PM Person1 called and explained that the right front tire is bad. He said all of the tires were balanced, but there was a belt infrastructure compromise in the right front tire. He said it looks like a build quality issue because the road force variation was high and the tire doesn't react well to load. They are going to put on a new right-front tire and he'll call me with an update later. He also wants to drive it in the morning as a test, so he'll keep it overnight.

    4-Oct-2012 - Picked Up Car
    I picked up my car. The steering wheel shook as I drove away, however, I only had about a two-mile drive home. I drove my son to baseball practice (11 miles) and it wasn't bad.

    5-Oct-2012 - Not Again!
    Steering wheel shook for the first six miles of my drive to work today. Then, it didn't shake again until about one mile before I got to work (my total drive is ~17 miles). When I left work, it was terrible. The shaking was bad, and it was coming and going. I had my cruise control on, going 61 MPH, and the steering wheel would shake badly. Then, after about a quarter of a mile, the steering wheel stopped shaking. Then, about a quarter of a mile after that, it started shaking again. I called and left a message for Person1.

    Person1 called me back and I explained the situation. He offered to contact some people to see what else he could do, but he said it may be tough to do much more due to the bulletin on the tires. He said the car would need to exhibit these problems after driving more than 10 miles so that the tires got some heat in them. I told him I would drive it more this weekend and call him on Monday.

    6-Oct-2012 - Thoughts...
    12:15 AM: I'm getting pretty frustrated. I'm having a hard time sleeping tonight because I keep thinking about this. If the issue was a mild shake and it always went away after a couple of miles, I may be able to just live with that. But it's a severe shake (at times) and it comes and goes. Sometimes there is very little shaking for days on end, then sometimes it's terrible for a day. I want GM to prove to me that the problem is the tires, but they won't put a different brand of tires on my car.

    My dad retired from GM, and I've owned many GM cars. Are they going to lose a customer because of this? So tiring.

    12:33 AM: I just emailed Jaret at the dealership where I bought the car:
    -- BEGIN EMAIL --

    I'm reaching out to you as I'm nearing a last resort before possibly taking legal action. Instead of trying to explain everything in this email, I've been blogging about the problems I've been having. You can read the details here:

    The bottom line is that my steering wheel is shaking, sometimes badly, and I just want it fixed. I'm emailing you because I bought the car from you, and I'm hoping you can come up with something, anything, to try and help. One idea is to put different wheels on my car, possibly from another Camaro that you have. I'd like to know for sure that the problem is with my current set of tires, and I'm not convinced of that. Yes, the tires have been a problem, but I'm concerned that something else may be going on. If I can drive for a week or two on a different set of tires, that would help at least reveal if that's the real issue.

    Can you please help?

    Note: I copied Person1 on this email. He works at Thayer Chevrolet here in BG. He's been helping me.

    Bob Horn

    -- END EMAIL --

    12:55 AM: I got an email from GM asking me to complete an online satisfaction survey. I completed it and included this:
    "I couldn't be happier with Person1. He's been respectful and he seems to sincerely care about the problem I'm having. However, I'm frustrated to the point of considering legal action because the problem still isn't fixed. I simply want the steering wheel to stop shaking. I don't think that's too much to ask after paying $40K for my car. The details of the problems are in my blog:"

    Possible options remaining:
    * Call/email the dealer where I bought the car and ask them to put different tires on the car. Also ask for anything else than can do. Anything...
    * Call a local TV station and see if they'll listen to my story.
    * Call the Better Business Bureau and complain.
    * Call a tire store and see if they'll let me drive on used tires for a week. If the shaking still happens, that means the problem wasn't the tires after all.
    * Contact an attorney and sue GM.
    * Something else? Thinking...

    6-Oct-2012 - Belle Tire
    12:05 PM: Called Belle Tire in Rossford and spoke with Drew. He explained that the issue might be the wheel and not the tire. If I have after-market wheels, they may not fit properly on the car. I sent him a picture of the wheel. Drew said I don't have after-market wheels, so that's probably not the issue. He said to bring my car to Belle Tire on Monday. They're going to check it out for me. If they can't find anything, maybe I'll go to a non-dealer mechanic next.

    8-Oct-2012 - Belle Tire Balanced Tires
    Belle Tire balanced my tires. Both driver side tires out of balance. Front off by 1.25 ounces. Rear off by 0.75 ounces. He said you'll feel anything over .25 ounces. Driver rear tire has a hop (elongated, egg-shaped) and that's why I feel it in the seat when driving. He said for a car like this the dealer should replace the rear tire. On my drive home, there was no steering wheel shaking for the first 10 miles, then after 10 miles it would come and go for the remaining 6 (or so) miles. The shaking at least wasn't the bad shaking. I guess we'll see over the next couple of days. Something is wrong, and I want to know what it is.

    ~11:45: I also called Person1 at Thayer. I told him the Belle Tire results. He said he isn't sure what to say, but Thayer has a $15K benchmark wheel balancer. He is not sure what to do at this point, so he is going to turn this over to his GM rep, and someone should call me. I also told him about the elongated rear tire and the hop. He again suggested that I have the original dealer put different wheels or tires on my car. I told him I sent an email to the original dealer last Saturday and haven't heard anything. I can try again. Person1 also said that he doesn't want his name on this blog, so he is now Person1. He also expressed frustration that I would only "probably" recommend his dealership on the survey. And he said that he was someone that was in my corner. Now there isn't much more he can do but turn it over to his rep. I apologized for using his name, even though I didn't see what the issue was, but I don't have a problem using Person1 as his name. I also told him that I said very nice things about him in the survey and that "probably" wasn't so bad, especially considering that the problem still exists.

    11:35: Why has it been three weeks with no activity? The person that has taken my case was on vacation for two weeks. Then he had to cancel last week because he had the flu. It happens. No worries. He was supposed to be here at 11:15 today. It's 11:35. Not sure if he forgot... Just left him a message. Ha. My bad. He just called. We were supposed to meet at Thayer. Going now...

    13:00: Just got back from Thayer. Went on a test drive with a GM rep from Toledo. We drove about 10 miles and the level-3 shaking occurred. It was actually intermittent as well. The steering wheel would be completely smooth for a good 1/4 mile, then it would shake badly. Then it went smooth. Then it was bad again. It finally happened in front of someone. Anyway, I left my car at Thayer and they're going to check it out again. It also pulled left off and on.

    13:40: Person1 called with an update. Alignment slightly off in front and back, not enough to cause pulling. Three of the four tires were out of balance. One rear and one front had high road force variation. He said other tires are now available, so they will replace all four tires. BF Goodrich Comp 2s are now available through GM tire program. Not sure how long this has been the case. Person1 said my car probably won't be ready until tomorrow or Thursday.

    16:30: Returned Person1's call. He said they just finished and the test drive was flawless. He said it was awesome and it's amazing what we can do with a good set of tires. There was genuine excitement in his voice, so I'm hopeful that this is really finally fixed. I'm going to get the car tomorrow morning.

    10:00: Just got back from Thayer after picking up my car. Person1 said the road force on the back was only 5 and the front tires weren't more than 9. I took it for a 10-mile test drive. The shaking still occurred but it was mild (level 2) and it was intermittent. If it never gets worse than this, I'm fine with that. There was definite improvement in that it felt smoother overall, especially not feeling the vibration in the seat due to the new back tires. Person1 said to get some miles on the tires and they'll be fine. I hope I can get a few more weeks on these new tires before changing to winter tires. I want to see that they don't get worse.

    Note: Person2 is Person1's contact in Toledo.

    ~16:30: Person1 called to see how it was going. I told him the problem is still occurring. It's not any better Just after I hung up, Person2 emailed me asking how it was going. This is my reply: "Interesting timing. I just now hung up the phone with Person1. I told him the issue was still happening. He said he wasn't sure what to do at this point, and that he can talk to you about it. He said it was smooth when he drove it. I explained that it is sometimes smooth for me, too. I also explained that if my steering wheel vibrated like yours did, and/or only had mild shaking, I would be fine with that. The issue is the level three shaking. That isn't right. Person1 says that the tires would be the only reason for this behavior. I was hoping it could possibly be something else because this isn't right. I'm tired, Person2. I hate bothering you guys, but I want this to be right. I'm not sure what to do."

    ~9:00: Just got this email: Hi Bob. Is it still happening around 60 MPH? Are you allowing the car to warm up for 20 minutes or so prior to analyzing the vibration? Smooth road surface? We have 2 options at this point. 1) I can send your vehicle to Milford to have engineering take a look at it to see if they can find something out of spec, or 2) I can buy the vehicle back and trade you into another Chevy vehicle. Please let me know what you would like to do. Thanks. -Person2

    ~12:00: Just sent email to Thayer Chevrolet to go ahead with the order of the 2013 Camaro as a replacement.

    ~9:45: Picked up the new 2013 Camaro today and left my old 2012 at Thayer. The Hurst short throw shifter wasn't installed. Also, the new car wouldn't move out of 1st gear. After I tried it, and two other Thayer employees, a third one finally just took off quickly and that did it. He said the car was just washed and the ice was frozen on the caliper. Had to break it. On my drive to work, the steering wheel didn't shake at all. NICE. FINALLY. I have a dealer plate on the car, so I 'll need to go back for paperwork, the shifter, and have my winter tires put on the new car.

    Driving Log
    Roads: Brim, Union Hill, and US 25 are smooth and paved.
    8-OctOn my drive home from Belle Tire, there was no steering wheel shaking for the first 10 miles, then after 10 miles it would come and go for the remaining 6 (or so) miles. The shaking at least wasn't the bad shaking.

    Drive to work. 45 degrees outside. Wheel started shaking about 1/2 mile into my drive, at 47 MPH, on Brim Rd. It shook for about 1/4 mile then stopped. Two miles into the drive, it started shaking again at 50 MPH (Union Hill Rd). After three miles, it started shaking at 61 MPH (US 25). The shaking was coming and going. For miles ~6-17 (freeway) there was very little or no shaking.
    Drive home from work: ~45 degrees again. No shake for the first 2 miles while going under 40 MPH. When I got onto 795 the wheel started shaking (badly) at 50 MPH. I had to stop a few seconds after it started shaking. When I started again, it started shaking around 60 MPH. For the remaining ride home (17 miles total) the shaking would come and go (and the shaking was a medium shake, not as bad as what happened earlier). It would usually last for a few seconds, go away for a while, then happen again for a few more seconds. All the roads were paved and generally smooth. Oh, and the car kept wanting to pull left for the entire ride home. Not sure what that was about. Wind? Some new problem?

    Drive to work. 35 degrees outside. No shake for first two miles. Still no shake when I put it in cruise at 61 MPH. About 2.5 miles in, while still in cruise at 61 MPH, the wheel started shaking. It only lasted for about 1/4 mile then stopped. While still in cruise at 61 MPH, the shaking happened again about a mile later. This continued until about 6 miles in when I got on the freeway. No shaking on the freeway (8 miles), although the car was pulling left again (but not as badly as yesterday). For the last 3 miles the shaking only happened twice, and only briefly.
    After work driving: ~60 degrees outside. I drove about 55 miles tonight and there was almost no shaking. Maybe 40 miles of that was freeway driving. Maybe two or three times there was a barely-visible shake, but that was it.
    After work driving: 52 degrees outside. No shaking below 50 MPH. However, almost every time I stopped and started, the wheel had a level 2 shake at about 55 MPH. That was about five different times, and all throughout my 17-mile ride home. It also shook at 61 MPH, off and on while cruising. And the same happened at 72 MPH.

    Drive to work. 42 degrees. Level 2 shaking off and on for the first six miles again. Then, at the 13-mile mark, level 2 shaking again, but only for a few seconds. No shaking for the final four miles.

    13- and 14-Oct:
    Drove ~100 miles to a friend's house over the weekend. The temprature was in the 40s on the way there, and in the 50s on the way home. On both occasions there was no shaking below 50 MPH. On the way there, level 2 shaking occurred around the ~55-mile mark, the 65-mile mark and the 75-mile mark. On the way back, level 2 shaking occurred 33, 72, and 93 miles into the drive. Each time the shaking would come and go. Also, the vehicle is now pulling to the left more and more often. Sometimes the pull is strong, sometimes it's weak, and sometimes it doesn't pull at all. It doesn't seem to coincide with the shaking. I also pushed in the clutch while the shaking was happening, but that didn't help.

    ~61 degrees outside. Today the shaking was bad. There was level-3 shaking at 55 MPH, and that happened four different times. The shaking never really occurs at lower speeds anymore. Oh, and the car is still pulling left.


  • When paying $40K for a new car, shouldn't you expect the steering wheel not to shake? 

  • What if it's not the tires? Am I really supposed to accept this for years and then possibly find out that wasn't even really the issue?

    Julie P. said...

    Nice documentation, Bob. I find it incredible that you were actually encouraged to take legal action by these folks. Find out who heads to the company (or Camaro division, if there is such a thing) & call that person's office. I have a friend who had an unacceptable experience with a car dealership years ago. She called Lee Iaccoca's office & received a call back from his secretary to re-mediate the situation.

    Robert Horn said...

    Thanks, Julie. I have another friend who is helping me at the moment. If that doesn't go anywhere, then I can try this option. Holly suggested calling the local news station as well.

    Anonymous said...

    I read with some interest.

    I don't know what you are expecting with 30-35 series tires.

    I have a $60K Porsche (my 3rd one) and after the overnight temps drop to 40F and under it takes a good 30 minutes before everything is smooth and in harmony.

    If driven cold at 30F and under it feels like "square wheels" until warmed through. This is perfectly normal.

    Didn't the one dealer advise you of a bulletin to this effect?

    I usually put these cars away by this time of the year until spring.

    I believe that your expectations are totally unresonable for the vehicle and tires you have.

    Robert Horn said...

    The original dealer told me that the shaking occurred because of the freeway where I did my test drive. It wasn't until two months later that I was told about this bulletin.

    If I would have just accepted it, the dealer wouldn't have found (and replaced) the bad front tire.

    If I have the wrong expectations, why does this issue come and go during the same drive?

    And this issue happened all summer long in 90-degree heat.

    And why would Belle Tire find two tires out of balance right after the dealer did it?

    Anonymous said...

    I'm telling you that the flat spotting of this type of tire when sitting overnight is a fact of life and is to be expected; some worse than others.

    The colder it is, the worse it gets; usually starting when overnight temps are in the 50's and getting progressively worse.

    Robert Horn said...

    From a friend of a friend:

    Well it sounds like tires sometimes but it’s hard to understand why it comes and goes at times. I would have to be looking at time driveline, focusing on the driveshaft. Whatever it is, it’s a harmonic balance and of course you’ll find that in tires too. All anyone can do is a process of elimination and it does turn out to be tires, GM will not pay the dealer one dime for all the work. Everyone keeps going back to the bulletin about the tire but tires do flat spot when sitting overnight and that depends on the tire, but that condition should go away when the tire warms up after a few miles. It sounds like everyone is so tuned in on that tire problem that they're overlooking the real condition. You would think it's time for someone in GM to bite the bullet and grab the bull by the horns and fix this problem, after all, they did build the car with the tires on it.

    Anonymous said...

    Disclaimer: I'm far from a mechanic

    Is it only the steering wheel that shakes? Can you feel it at all in the seats or anywhere else? Does doing anything make it better or worse (e.g. braking, turning)?

    Perhaps you've already done this, but I do the same thing I do when I have a programming problem I can't solve... turn to the interweb. Try:

    Or perhaps even better, search for threads and post here:

    I linked to a specific thread, but there are several others if you search. The very last post on the second page of the thread I posted mentions contacting them as they are familiar with similar issues (although it seems they mention more than just the steering wheel shaking).

    Another test suggested on that thread that seems logical:

    "When you are at speed and you feel the vibration, push the clutch in and let the engine idle. Do you still have the vibration? That should tell you whether it's related to the spinning drivetrain or not."


    Robert Horn said...

    Thanks, Ron. I actually posted on that site a month ago:

    I can feel the vibration in the seat, but I'm assuming that's because of the elongated rear tire that the dealer won't replace. (Another issue.)

    I haven't noticed braking or turning making a difference.

    I like that test of pushing in the clutch. I'll give it a shot! Thanks!

    Camaro Car Classifieds said...

    Normally when a steering wheel shakes, it must be a problem with a wheels.