I think my car is tramlining...

 Hi everyone,


its been an ongoing problem for a while now, but has definately gotton worse over the last few months.  I just feel like the car is wondering all over the place!  And at higher speeds its particularly scary as the car veers as though constantly being buffeted by the wind.  I’ve had the car checked over twice now, had complete wheel alignment and geometry done at the WIM, replaced the rear tyres for a couple of GSD2 (though admitedly I still have kunho a/s tyres at the front and was told this shouldn’t be the problem, besides I’ve had this problem since before I change the tyres…)

The only thing of note is that about 12 months ago I could hear and feel a knocking sound through the steering but this seems to have miracously disappeared.  I’ve been assured that the car is perfectly safe to drive, but that doesn’t mean I’m particularly enjoying driving it!  I’m getting desperate- any ideas?



Can’t help, but the first question will be is it a Mk1, 2 or 3?

 Is it the back or the front that feels like you have not got control???

Mine feels like this on the motorway at the minute only because i am running on snow tyres and it feels like your riding on jelly(soft compound tyres),but i’ll live with it for another couple of weeks yet??? 

It sounds like you have some kind of movement(loose) somewhere,are your tyre pressures ok???are your tyres wets or all weather???is there any play in your steering from lock to lock??? 

 Regardless of Mk, you don’t have ‘Tramlining’ - the term is used as a reference when a car tends to follow lines in the road surface, i.e. filled in trench edges, tyre grooves from HG vehicles etc, in other words, the car is a tram, and is following tram tracks. In most cases this is caused by tyre choice, but misalignement can also be a factor. I don’t personally follow the rule of thumb that as long as matched tyres are on the same axle (front or back) that they can be of different type or make to the other axle, I always insist on having the same tyre on all four corners. The MX-5 is a finely balanced car, and needs tyres to suit. If you are happy that the two alignments already done were successful (or did you get the second one because the first didn’t cure any problems?) then it has to be a question of tyre choice, but allow me to be honest about my ‘wandering’ problem when I first got my car - I finally realised the steering was much more precise than on most previous cars I had owned, which all tended to be rather vague, and when I stopped fiddling with it, and allowed the car to make it’s own course - the problem dissapeared. (you live and learn!) - It took months to figure that one out!

Granted under high ‘gusty’ side winds, the car can move about  - it’s a light car don’t forget - but that’s the only time I now have to compensate for any wandering that the car does. As the knocking you had has dissapeared, then we can overlook that, so it’s down to one of two expensive choices, either change the tyres on one of the two axles to match the others, or get another alignement check done, For my money, get rid of the Kumho’s on the front, but others may say get rid of the GSD2’s on the back (sure that’s the right type? - current Goodyears recommended are GSD3’s) - most steering problems originate at the front end, so that’s where I would start. While I haven’t used WIM - there has never been a complaint on here, so I tend to suspect tyre problems, not alignement. There might also be suspension problems, i.e. weak shocks or springs but if the car is serviced properley, then these points should have been picked up - depends when and where really. If your tyre pressures are too high (should be 26 psi all round) then the car can be more skitterish, but underpressured can feel like driving a sick animal, both circumstances are pretty obvious.

One other point, some owners of Mk1’s complained in the past that their car tended to be a bit “unstable when driving at speed” (I assume they meant “doing 70” - - A’hmm ) but in these cases fitting a front splitter appears to have cured the problem. You have to decide if you are getting the wandering at speed, or below the A’hmm limit, but fix the main problem first.


Gerryn makes some very good points, which I agree with.  The MX-5 really does not seem to like mixed tyres, however good the tyres either end may be when fitted a full matching set of four.

However this sounds to me like classic symptoms of innacurate alignment.  (What a lot of people don’t always realise is that correct algnment is more about getting the car to drive properly in a straight line and getting it to stop going in a curve when you don’t want it to, than it is about getting it to go round curves when you do want it to!)

What kind of alignment did you have done, and where?  What figures did they set it to, and how accurately did they set it?  WIM are indeed excellent although there are other places which are equally good.  Unfortunately however there are also some other places which are not quite so good …    

One other point that might cause the wandering problem - I understand you to say you have Kumho ‘a/s’ tyres on the front (still) and you had this problem before fitting the GSD2’s on the rear. If that is true then I would be prompted to say that the Kumho’s are the source of the problem.I’m not familiar with Kumho tyres, but does the “a/s” stand for asymetric? If so, are you sure these tyres are properley fitted - the tyres on each side should be a mirror image of each other, with most asymetrics, an arrow on the sidewall points the forward direction. Otherwise it can cause all kinds of problems.

 I noticed sometime back that somebody on here was showing a photo of their car, and it had GSD3’s on, one of which  at least (right front) was fitted the wrong way round. I would have raised the point then and there, but a phone call interrupted my state of mind, and I forget about it afterwards. Hopefully - somebody told him (or her) at some point! I wouldn’t say the GSD3’s are asymetric, but there’s a right way to fit them, with the tread ‘arrows’ pointing downwards when viewed from the front (direction of normal travel).

I’v never had tramlining with my '5, always had a set of four identical tyres fitted. Over the past few years on the forum, most of these problems have come down to the tyre mix, one exception that I remember was cured by replacing bushes at the rear of the car, can’t remember which one’s.

 I bought a MK2 in June last year, it had new Toyo’s on the rear & cheap tyres up front, I honstly found that my old Escort was more stable than the 5, when the car was having work done by Mark (only MX5’S), he said that the cheap front tyres were defo the problem. Once I had Toyo’s all round, the car was total transformed, I think MX5’s are very sensitive to tyre choice.

 well I had an MOT done on my Mk1 yesterday and was told there was some play on my nearside steering rack.  I’m having it looked at by Mazdaman this weekend, which will hopefully go some way to solving the problem, then I think I may have to bite the bullet and replace the kunho’s at the front.


I did check the orientation of the GSD2 and they were fitted correctly, so I hope the combination of fixing the steering rack and replacing the tyres will do the job. fingers crossed!



I know this is the “Suspension” sub-forum, not the “Wheels and tyres” sub-forum, but in view of the generally recognised susceptibility of the MX-5 to handling problems when fitted with mixed tyres (more so than other cars, even other sports cars, for some reason), this might perhaps be an occasion to remind owners of the merits of rotating tyres (or rather, swapping them front-to-rear) at regular intervals - say, every 6,000 miles or so, as suggested in the owner’s handbook.

This saves either having to discard a part-worn pair from one end, or being restricted to only fitting new tyres identical to those used before.  It also avoids having tyres rear tyres which gradually become more worn than the fronts - just the opposite of what you want.  Always have the better (i.e., least-worn) tyres on the back, not the front.

I have never heard anyone reporting any handling problems after swapping their tyres in this way, especially if done fairly frequently.  And eventually, of course it doesn’t cost any more to swap four tyres at once than to replace them in pairs.  In fact it can save money since you never normally need to discard any part-worn tyres.  If you can’t afford a big outlay all at one time, why not open a savings account? 

I have matched GSD3s all round on my Mk1 which appear to be wearing evenly at the moment. My car runs straight and true on a good road but tramlining is very evident and the front squirms a little under braking on some surfaces.

I have 7J rims on the car at the moment but will be swapping these for some genuine Mazda 6J rims with less offset.

Spanner200 - you said “I did check the orientation of the GSD2 and they were fitted correctly, so I hope the combination of fixing the steering rack and replacing the tyres will do the job. fingers crossed!”

Sorry I mentioned the GSD2’s - that was an aside relating to the past, the orientation of the Kumho’s (if they are asymetric) was the point I was trying to make. However, pleased to see your MOT man has picked up on the steering rack, that will certainly contribute to the problem, but you still need the same type of tyre all round, the car will be better for it.

If my memory is correct, the GSD2 is an older version, the replacement is the GSD3. If I’m right on that, then fit the newer GSD3’s on the rear azle, and move the GSD2 to the front. However, if GSD2’s are still available, then get them and do the same fitting as just described.

Niggle - if your car is def tramlining and shifting under braking then you need to get either alignment done, or you have other suspension problems, might also be possible you have play on the steering rack too? Never had tramlining when I had GSD3’s on, nor now I have T1r’s, but did suffer a bit when I first bought the car with Bridgestones on.

On that note - I don’t wish to alarm anyone using GSD3’s, nor am I saying there is a general fault with this tyre, but while having the brakes bled in 2007 I noticed (with a fair amount of concern) that splits were appearing around the inside edge of the V’s, between the V itself and the base of the tread,.On some tyres these splits went right down the length of each V.

 I was going to take these down to Goodyear - they were still under warranty at the time, but couldn’t spare the time as it was a busy year. I was ‘offroad’ for most of last year, so shot myself in the foot on this one. I did show one tyre to Chris Neville-Parry (who used to be a tyre tester for Goodyear) and he said it looked like a manufacturing fault, possibly too much heat or bad curing during manufacture.

However - a gentle reminder! Check your GSD3’s (or any tyre) from time to time CLOSELY, otherwise you’ll never notice any faults. I’m not a “hang sbout” driver, nor am |I a speed freak, so yes - I did a couple of track events on these tyres - both at Donny, and also a few laps round Curborough, but I certainly wasn’t the fastest. I explained this to Chris, and he said that the tyre faults had nothing to do with high speed driving, or cornering. He should know - he tested the GT40 at Le-Mans - - - - -

On this subject, I wish to say with regret that Chris passed away after a long and severe ilness around New Year. Anyone who knew him will know that he carried with him a mindful of memories of fast tracks and fast drivers, and as I said when I was told - “It’s a pity he never wrote a book”. I once asked him if he did the famous 225 in the GT40 down the  Mulsanne straight (he tested it there) and he just smiled. As a tyre tester, he would have to drive the car to the limit to thoroughly check the tyres. And the speed was anounced a week - at least, before the race!

Chris will be missed, by family and all his friends. “Light 'em up Chris!”

Hi, I bought my first MX5 (Mk1 Harvard) a few months ago, and I’m very pleased with it. 


I’ve been experiencing the effects of tramlining, where the wheels have been pulled from side to side by HGV trenches in the road, seams in the road and even white lines.  The effects were quite severe and not only spoilt the drive, but felt dangerous.  I adjusted the toe-in using my laser tracking gauges, but nothing seemed to improve it.


Last weekend, I decided to replace the front mis-matched tyres (a budget and a goodyear) with the same as I’d already put on the back, Yokohama Parada Spec-2 195/50/15, and I’m pleased to report it’s fixed the problem; the car feels much more stable.


I’d already purchased a pair of new track rod ends, assuming they must be shot, but now I’m not going to even bother replacing them - the improvement is that severe.


Thanks for the advice


Really pleased with the MX5 - not sure why it’s taken me so long to buy one. I’ve got a mental sub-4 sec Westfield with over 420bhp/ton, which just scares the life out of me, but the MX5 is loads of fun, great handling, without the terror.


Yes, the GSD2 were replaced by GSD3 however the GSD2 is still available for the 14" as Goodyear never made a 14" GSD3… At a rough guess I assume this is what is fitted and that the car is a MK1Wink

However, if they are GSD3’s on a 15" rim (195/50R15), then Goodyear haven’t made that size for 2 years and GSD2 for about 5 years! Shock

 Interesting - but that post is over a year ago! I had 195/65R15’s GSD’s on before. Still have, but they’re Toyos - a much better tyre.( for me anyway)