Q: Hello Ryan
This is for a 1991 Toyota Camry DX 3sfe J-Vin with about 180k miles. After replacing the driver's side tie-rod and having a professional wheel alignment I've noticed some vibration in the steering wheel while making sharp turns, like a slight "shimmy" in the steering wheel. The axle-shafts need replacing(they're clicking in turns) and I do not know the condition of the ball-joints or wheel bearings. With this limited information, at which components do you think I should take a closer look? I'm thinking that the CVs are causing the vibration, but I would like your professional opinion.
Thanks for your question. I think you're definitely on the right track looking at the front axle shafts as the cause of your shimmy. The binding of the constant velocity joints will be most noticeable at low speed and tight turns. A loose wheel bearing will usually be felt all of the time. My wife's 91 Camry had a bad front wheel bearing and it got really loose before we could hear or feel it while driving. You can feel ball joints in the steering, but it's typically more of single pop than a continuous shimmy If you can hear your axle shafts clicking then they need to be replaced anyway, so I would start there.
If you're doing this yourself, OTC makes a slide hammer attachment that makes popping the inner shaft out much easier. You can find a decent new axle shaft assembly for approximately $85. The labor guide quotes the job taking 1.9 hours for one side or 3.3 hours for both.
Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions.