Car Doctor Q&A: Sometimes a Shudder Isn’t Tire or Suspension Related

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When your car starts doing a the Hipshake Shimmy at highway speed, it’s typically the fault of bad tires, steering or suspension components. But it can be transmission related, and might not be all that expensive to remedy.

Q. I have a 2005 Honda CR-V and sometimes when I’m driving onto the highway at about 40 to45 miles per hour it feels like I’m driving over a rumble strip. If I slow down or speed up the crazy shake goes away. I want to keep this car for my winter “beater.”

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Any idea what this could be?

A. The symptom (driving over a rumble strip) is very similar to what we saw in older General Motors vehicle with a faulty torque convertor clutch.

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At certain speeds the transmission torque convertor (a fluid coupling) locks into direct drive. This direct drive mode usually engages around 35-45 miles per hour. If the torque convertor clutch is slipping in and out of direct drive it will cause in some cases a severe shudder.

I suspect the problem with your Honda is the same. In some cases completely changing the transmission fluid can solve the problem. Other times it may take a replacement of the torque convertor to remedy the situation.