It feels like my car is floating/pulling at high Speeds


Asked by Nov 25, 2012 at 10:50 AM about the 1999 Pontiac Grand Am 2 Dr SE2 Coupe

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

So, I live in Michigan where the weather is really bad in the winter. There was a slight dusting of snow on the ground this morning, not much at all. I have a 99 Pontiac Grand Am SE 140,000 miles. I pretty much had to white knuckle the steering wheel to keep it half way steady this morning. Or when I'm driving on the freeway at high speeds it feels as though my car is floating, not planted on the ground. What is the problem!!! my Trac off light has been off since I had the car, and my ABS light has been on since i've had the car. It did not do this about two years ago. I've had thecar for four years now. Does anyone have any Ideas??

26 Answers


(also I just replaced the tirod end, and control arm on the drivers side) It just feels scary not knowing where the car is going to go, my steering wheel is all over the place at low speeds with a DUSTING of snow. And at high speeds it feels like the back end is going to give out. It just floats on the road. It also feels like it's hydroplaning in wet weather, my tires are fine.

14 out of 14 people think this is helpful.

Maybe shocks. Put all you weight on the back of the car and sit or push with all you have. The car will go down. It should come back up and stay there. If it bounces up and down a couple--3 times your shock absorbers are bad. But how is the tread on your tires?

7 out of 7 people think this is helpful.

Unless of course you have McPherson struts, but the test is the same

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I just replaced the two front tires and the back ones are at about 75 percent....I did do the shock test, i pushed down on the back end and it bounced once. :S I guess the best way to describe the situation is when i'm driving down the road in a little bit of snow, or a little bit of rain, It feels like my wheels are going side to side because my steering wheels is moving right to left. I have to hold the steering wheel in place (white knuckling it) to keep it from shifting back and forth. And this is at low speeds (35-55) When i'm going at high speeds (65-75) My car feels like it's floating on air, riding on ice skates.

20 out of 20 people think this is helpful.

It feels like it's not Planted on the ground (at all times)

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

OK, next then would be a thoroughly complete inspection of tie-rods, steering column (not in cabin,under hood). Get somebody to turn the steering wheel back and forth while you watch the components, car off. There should be just a little play in the wheel, if the steering wheel turns more than, say, 1/8 of a turn and the wheels don't try to turn accordingly, see if you can see what is moving. There may be a U-joint in the column, many cars have one, inspect that.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Does it do this on dry roads? And one small bounce is OK, SMALL, it really should not bounce at all it is supposed to come back up and stay there

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

After you replaced the tie rod ends did you have it aligned? Misalignment could definitely cause shakey steering. You need to get whichever wheel speed sensor that is bad replaced. A bad wheel bearing will cause the wheel speed sensor to not give a reading causing the track off light and the abs light to come on and the abs won't work. I live in northwest Indiana and we need abs for the winter. A bad wheel bearing will also cause a grinding and it could cause a shaking in the front end.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

Kandace this sounds like the same problem I'm having with my 2005 Nissan Altima, did you ever find out what the problem was?

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

I'm having the same issue....extremely scary

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.

Me to! I had no problems until I had these new winter tires put on and an alignment the same day! Then my traction control and abs light started coming on when I first back out of the driveway some days! If I shut the car off and turn it back on those lights stay off! I am at a loss!

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

Mine is an 07 Grand Prix

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

I just bought a 2006 Ford Fusion and it's doing the same thing! Light fluffy snow...even an inch or 2...wet roads...and heaven help me if there's any slick spots! Driving home from work tonight, it truly felt like the back end was going down the road crooked. I NEED to figure out what's wrong. Ideas or suggestions???

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

It feels like it's floating. White knuckle driving is an understatement!

8 out of 8 people think this is helpful.

Cbernard - I have an '06 GXP and had the ties rods, bearings, new Michelins (all 4) and an alignment done ... and it still feels like it wants to crumble underneath me on turns.I don't feel safe on the L.A. Freeways doing over 65 - and that's even on the straightaways! I should feel like I'm in a new car that's stiff and stuck to the ground at this point. Something needs to be tightened up still.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

I was just asking my surry on the phone if a 99 Pontiac Firebird was supposed to hydroplane now I'm scared are they ? no of course not hmmmm. just bought it two weeks ago and its been raining it's done it 3 times


I have the same issue with my 2008 Altima and it's causing me to consider purchasing a new vehicle. My husband thinks I just need to replace my tires but my dad had a brand new Altima and ended up trading it in for the same reason ... winter driving and driving in the rain ... frightening!

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

Most of yall seem to have a rack and pinion issue. When it is bad, it will take you all over the road, with your hand never moving the wheel. Most mechanics wont admit that is the issue. They want you to spend thousands to fix it. I did. I don't want others to spend tons of money or time, at the cost of their life. Hope this helps someone.

6 out of 6 people think this is helpful.

Hydroplaning in the rain or snow is normal, given the tires and terrain and speed. But walking all over the road, or "floating" is a dead giveaway that the rack and pinion is bad. Your rack and pinion is what connects your steering wheel to your wheels. Your tierods go into your rack and pinion. Your steering gear box, is also, most of the time, part of your rack and pinion. The rack and p, is also connected to, and more or less, powered by your power steering pump. Depending on how old the car is and how many miles, sometimes, it is good to change out the rack and pinion, the power steering pump and the lines. Sometimes you can get by with just the rack, and then do a complete flush of the system.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

So I need to contact my dealer and get it in there. I was parking my car last night and I could totally hear something wasn't right as I was turning the wheel. I had the Service Writer go on a drive with me, and he said he didn't feel anything abnormal...but ever since I hydroplaned almost a year ago and replaced the tires thinking it was because they were worn, including having the tierods replaced and 2 alignments, and 2 balances... it drives worse... and I paid $900 for Michelins. Supposed to be the tires recommended... and this? Not a happy camper. Good thing is I have a huge warranty until I think next year and it can't be extended after that.. it's been done 2x.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

not sure how much time anybody has but vehicals are important, even if they are a privalidge. i ( who doesn't have much time to capitalize my letters), came to to get some tips on a vehical i havn't worked on before, to only find 3 good tips, out of, many other " i want to relate to to you, not actully help you". there is facebook and other things to talk about your situation.


tips from me, do some homework on how you car, find the basics and run from there. don't trust any mechanic, you are their money maker. you do your homework learn some prices, you'll find the mechanic, who you can trust, almost like a doctor just cheaper. i'm sure everyone can do it themselves, after gathering knowledge,then tools, then a plan, then parts, and hard work and you save money and time!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I totally agree with you I have a 2001 Grand Am and after putting new winter tires on i have one heck of a sway and shudder from the rear once i get above 60mph, and it feels more on the drivers side rear. I already had the knocking noise going over bumps but its on the passenger side, A friend who works on cars often tried tightening the shock bolts inside trunk and said he could move both and the bearing plates need replaced idk but its worth checking into...........

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

change you front sway bar.

I have a 2013 Elantra GT.. Same issue of hydroplaning/driving on balloons and feeling disconnected from the road.. very scary in Canadian Winters.. 2 Independent mechanics and the dealer have looked at it and can't find anything wrong.. I have scoured the internet looking for answers.. found another person in Ontario that had the same issue with his 2013 Elantra but it was his first winter.. thought it may be tires in my case even though the ones from last year had lots of tread left.. brad new set now.. still the same issue.. can't go over 45km without being terrified to end up spinning out.. highway driving is the worst.. All the dealership has done is readjust the steering.. no difference.. I really don't want to be forced into buying a second car, but it's an hour drive into the city in good weather and now it's not safe. (first 2 winters with the car.. no issue at all)

The original author posted a few key points to remember in your diagnosis: the wheel never moves! it's the tires and connected system only that moves. The original author never said anything about the wheel pulling, he never said anything about bad weather or anything like that. it's important to know that this happened on dry good roads and that the steering wheel does not move but the car slides around as if it is floating or being pushed or hydroplaning, but know that is just the feeling; that is not actually what it's doing. it is not hydroplaning. Remember it will do this in dry weather. So what is the solution because I have the exact same problem!

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