Wheel Hop Explained and Steps to Fix

Modern cars are complex machines so healthy knowledge and experience is needed to diagnose and fix their problems. A vehicle’s power, efficiency and electronics have increased in recent years, with some modern and sophisticated cars boasting over 500 hp and over a hundred computer modules to monitor and control the operation of various parts, including the suspension and tires. . 🇧🇷

The computer-controlled suspension and tire operation may seem strange at first, but the presence of such electronics is crucial for optimal overall performance.

However, even a bunch of electronic aids cannot handle and deliver all the power produced by some modified and high-performance vehicles. Generating astronomical power numbers is one thing and delivering them precisely to the wheels is another thing, and in many cases people only focus on the first part and forget about the second.

In fact, solving both equations is essential to getting the most out of your high-performance car.

One problem that can occur on these cars is wheel bouncing!

What is wheel/tyre jumping?

Wheel hop or tire hop refers to the unusual and violent movement of tires within tire wells. Under normal circumstances it is perfectly normal for the tires to show some movement as they have to absorb road imperfections, however in the case of tire/wheel jump their movement becomes so erratic that it sends intense vibrations throughout the car.

Wheel hop is a relatively common occurrence on beefed up cars and people in the car modification industry are well aware of this problem. In fact, wheel jumps are a by-product of increasing engine power and it’s something that needs to be taken care of to reap the full benefits of a high-performance car, otherwise all the effort could be for naught.

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After all, what good is having so much power if you can’t put that power on the road.

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Difference between wheel spin and wheel jump?

Wheel bouncing may sound similar to wheel slip, but it’s actually quite different from the normal tire slip that people often experience. A closer look at both phenomena reveals a big difference between them.

Spinning just causes the tires to rotate while in place, on the other hand, a tire jump involves a tire moving laterally from its original position. A wheel spin does not cause any vibrations, on the contrary a wheel jump causes brutal vibrations and rattles.

Wheel Spin

What causes wheel skipping?

The main cause of wheel jumping is imperfect or inappropriate geometry of the suspension and tires. A normal suspension setup and tires work perfectly fine for an average car; however, things change dramatically when the normal suspension and tires are subjected to increased power. Stock bushings and suspension joints are not designed to handle a large amount of power that is delivered to the wheels via a tuned engine; therefore, they begin to divert transitional forces back to the tires and other parts.

The lateral movement of the tires shakes the entire car and makes it nearly impossible for the tires to grip the surface.

It won’t be right to put all the blame on the suspension. Tires also play a crucial role in eliminating wheel skipping from occurring, but in many cases the tires are either too thin or not warm or soft enough to hug the asphalt properly.

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It’s one of the reasons drag cars are equipped with ultra-wide tires, because a wide tire has more surface area in contact with the road and therefore generates more friction and grip. Tire compound and temperature also play a key role in launching a high-performance vehicle. That’s why soft tires are used and drivers do a burnout to warm them up properly. A warm, soft tire is therefore an ideal candidate for a high-power car launch.

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Does Wheel Hop only affect FWD cars?

Another interesting question that is often asked in connection with this topic is whether wheel bouncing only occurs on front-wheel drive (FWD) cars or can it also occur on rear-wheel drive (RWD) cars? The simple and straightforward answer to this question is that BOTH drivetrains are susceptible to wheel skipping. However, RWD cars are more likely to experience this issue since the car is pushed by the rear wheels, which are already prone to traction issues in most RWD cars.

Also, most RWD cars are performance oriented and therefore more susceptible to tire jumps. That said, you can’t ignore the chances of a tire jump on a front wheel drive (FWD) car. The main reason for this argument is that front-wheel drive cars are more focused on providing better economy, their front suspension parts are not made to withstand the launch forces generated by a tuned engine.

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Does Wheel Hop damage a vehicle?

Wheel skipping can cause significant and expensive damage to your car. Major suspension components should take the most impact and damage can extend to the rear axle, driveshaft and tyres. Violent tire movement puts tremendous stress on the axle, which can deform its geometry beyond the parameters it was designed to operate safely.

The drive axle, suspension joints and assemblies can eventually break, depending on the intensity and frequency of wheel jumping. As the driveshaft is attached to the transmission which in turn is attached to the engine, the struts that hold these two crucial parts of the car together can also crack and eventually give out if the tire jump is left unresolved.

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How to Repair Hop Tire

One of the most common tried and true remedies for wheel jump is to use a torque rod on the rear axle of a car that is experiencing this problem. The torque bar dampens vibrations and allows only slight movement of the driveshaft in the event of a difficult launch. The best thing about torque rods is that they are readily available and affordable, plus they can be easily installed using basic tools. The only downside to this solution, as you might have guessed, is that it’s only viable for rear-wheel drive (RWD) vehicles.

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Another obvious and simple solution is to use softer, wider tires. These tires hold the ground very well and can help eliminate wheel bounce. However, the most durable and widely acceptable solution is to install proper suspension components that are made to withstand the extreme forces generated during a launch.

These special components are a bit pricey, but they are worth it in the long run and provide the best possible resistance against wheel bouncing. However, just like any other aftermarket component, upgraded bushings and suspension joints also have a downside. They will reduce ride quality, which is an obvious trade-off when opting for a stiffer suspension setup. Other than that, the solution is as bulletproof as it gets, offers great value for your money, and provides long-term peace of mind.

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