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Car question


Ralph Wiggum

Question

My girlfriend has a '99 Olds Cutlass with a 3100 V-6 that's been making a strange noise as of late. It's a kind of whirring noise (almost sounds like tire noise, but that's not it--and it's louder). It gets higher pitched and louder the faster you drive. It doesn't change pitch at all when the transmission shifts gears. Any ideas?

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Does the noise change according to idle speed or car speed .... Belts and compressor can sound like that ... Yes trannys will make that noise but is should come and go in intestiy accord to the RPM and when it is shifting

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Try putting a screwdiver on the alternator and put the handle to your ear. If it sounds like it's growling that might be it. Be careful though and don't let it slip off.

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

The screwdriver works to locate noise, I use a section of hose for those hard to get at places.

Hows the power steering fluid?

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Does it make the noise with the vehicle in park and increase the rpm? or does the vehicle have to be physically moving.

I would bet it starts at about thirty miles an hour. If this is the case try turning the wheel back and forth in an area that will permit you to do so at that speed. If it gets louder when you turn one way and gets quieter when you turn the other, you have a bad wheel bearing.

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im with airjer on this one.. if it doesnt change tone when the vehicle changes RPM its something on the chassis.. wheel bearing, etc..

Another possibility might be the sway bar.. I have seen the sway bar links break and result in the sway bar rubbing the front tires.

Something is wrong somewhere.. better locate it soon.

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It seems to only occur when the car is moving. If it's a bearing, what kind of $ are we talking about? Also, it's been doing this for a while (a month or so), and it seems to be getting louder. She just had the brakes done a week or two ago. Wouldn't they notice something like that?

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'99 Olds Cutlass. Wheel hub with bearing. Part # 88957259. G.M.'s suggested retail is $270.00. Shop around though because aftermarket might be cheaper and a used one should only run around $50.00. But you never know what you will end up with when getting used.

I always tell people that they already have a used one on the vehicle why would you want another used one?

I don't think the guys doing the brakes could have noticed it unless they road tested it and then heard the nosie.

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Some bearings will show some slop and others will remain tight. So they may not have caught it with the physical inspection. They should have noticed it on the test drive. If they did not take your vehicle on a short drive to burn in the brakes they would not have noticed it, AND YOUR VEHICLE SHOULD BE TEST DRIVEN AFTER EVERY BRAKE SERVICE. 1. To confirm the completeness of the brake service. 2. To be sure that your complaints if any where resolved. 3. To determine if there are other issues with the vehicle that need to be addressed.

I know a guy who works at the Zanebrook goodyear in your neck of the woods. His name is Eric, he is a real decent guy and would be more than happy to help you figure it out! Tell him Corncob sent yah. smile.gif

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So, if it is a bearing, what damage will be done? Will driving on it a few more days do any more damage than has already been done?

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Unless it is really, really bad a few more day will probably not matter. The bearing would have to have a complete failure before any most anything else would be hurt. Many of the really bad ones I've done had an anti-lock light come on because they became so worn. Remember, cars like everything else have a way of breaking down at the most inconvienient time, so sooner is better than later.

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I agrea with Macgyver55, The likely hood of a wheel falling off or locking up because of a bad bearing is slim. I've seen three vehicles in the last several years where the only thing keeping the wheel on was the rotor and brake caliper, and THEY DROVE IT INTO THE SHOP!

Vehicles shouldn't make wierd noises or have vibrations! Although most of the time these symptoms are fixed with a minimal investment, taking care of them as soon as possible is always the best bet, or at least finding out the severity of the problem so you are aware of the circumstances that may result.

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Thanks, guys. She talked to her mechanic about it, and we're taking it in on Friday.

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

I'm not convinced you have a bad wheel bearing but if you do then it should be dealt with ASAP. Driving on a bad bearing for a month is unheard of as far as I'm concerned, especially one making noise. I've never seen a bearing go bad that had grease, they usually go dry then squeal for a very short time till they're shot.

Right now worse case is you have to replace and pack the bearing. Wait and you can count on replacing a lot more then just the bearings and quite possible a tow charge to a garage not of your choosing or you have no prior experience with.

Could also include a missed day of work.

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This car has a sealed hub and bearing assembly. Its not packable.

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ST:

Get together with your local auto mechanic and have him give you a run down on the bearings used on 95% of cars and the front end of 4 wheel drive pickups these days. The sealed bearing units will start making a howling noise, sounds almost like a prop driven airplane, and can run that way for a month or two before anything real bad happens. The bearings are held together primaraly by the cv shaft, so there is no way for them to completly fall apart. (No offense ment by this post, I'm an ASE certified master technician trying to give the proper information)

To RW:

The aftermarket bearings run $150 without built in ABS sensors and $190-$200 with the ABS sensors built-in. Depends on what options your cars came with. The GM cars have four bolts, the brake caliper and rotor, and the CV shaft nut to remove to replace the bearing assembly. It should only be about .6 to .7 hours of labor to have a new one installed. Any more than that and I would be asking some questions and asking the mechanic or service advisor to show you the time allowed in the Mitchell labor guide which is the industry standard guide.

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Thanks, Big DS. Her mechanic wasn't worried about her driving it a few more days, either.

I don't drive the car much, but she claims that she's been getting worse gas mileage lately. Would a bad bearing play into that? (I don't know if she acutally is; could be the noise makes her think that she is)

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Possible but doubtful. While you have the vehicle in the shop, see about having the injectors and the intake cleaned. A lot of shops these days have went to the 3M cleaning system that has an injector cleaner and a throttle body and intake cleaner in a aresol can. Your car has a MAF sensor that should be cleaned also. If you mechanic is not familiar with the process make sure you find someone that is. The MAF sensor needs to be cool when cleaning and should not be overlooked. Immediately you should notice a dramatic increase in mileage. I will taper down and level out, but it should be better than what she is getting now. Has the check engine light been on at all letely? Is there any exhaust noise that shouldn't be there?

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No check engine light and I haven't noticed any exhaust noise.

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

Quote:


This car has a sealed hub and bearing assembly. Its not packable.


I did not know that. tongue.gif

Are you saying the hub and bearing are one unit?

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Surface-

Yup, They have been using the "untized" (sp) bearing since the begining of front wheel drive. These bearings are greaseless and sealed. Some are press fit (Honda, Toyota, Ford Contour) some are bolt on (Chevy's, Chryslers, Fords). On some cars everything between the knuckle and the wheel is one assembly. When it goes bad the whole thing gets replaced. On some of the Imports the only thing that gets replaced is the sealed bearing itself.

When replacing on of these bearings or even a drive axle, its extremely important to torque the axle nut to the proper spec. A loose axle nut will tear up a bearing in no time especially the Chrysler Minivans. The drive axle and the spindle pinch and hold the bearing together with the help of the axle nut.

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I don't mean to intrude on this thread, but all this talk might help with a similar issue I might have. It's a '94 Toyota Camry and it's the wife's car. She claims to have heard extremely loud noises from the area of the rear driver's side tire, that would get worse with higher speeds. She lived away from home for school and I couldn't witness the sounds. She claims it sounded like rocks inside the hub cap-like sounds (no rocks of course). The sounds only occur on hot weather days.

I've been driving this car for the last 2-3 months and it has never made a sound and I've driven lots of miles.

It happened over a year ago too and I tore the brakes out and inspected everything back then....found nothing unusual. What I remember is I thought the rear bearings were sealed...can anyone confirm?

Anyone ever heard noises like that?

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Yeah, Im pretty sure they are a sealed bearing in the rear also on that toyota. Does the vehicle have wheel covers. If it does and the noise returns try taking them off. I've solved many a mystery noise by removing wheel covers and aftermarket mud flaps. Is it possible that there where rocks stuck in the tire tread? the last possibility that I can think of is a drive axle, but if there was a bad one it would be rattleing and vibrating like crazy by now. typically a drive axel (C.V. joint) will make the noise when accelerating while turning left/right from a dead stop.

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Not the wheel covers.

Not rocks in the wheel covers.

No rocks in tire thread.

Brand new CV joints in front. The sound is in the rear.

I've never heard the noise, only going by what my wife says. It just drives me crazy not knowing. Apparently it's so loud at times people look and later ask her what is wrong with the car? crazy.gif Like I said before I tore everything apart looking for the issue, re-built the brakes, etc.. Maybe the car just doesn't like her. LOL It drives like new for me. smile.gif

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Just a wild guess but maybe ply separation, or cupping in the tires? Did the noise start after a rotate?

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

Chuck, I'd be willing to bet some of the rust on the outer rim of the brake drum came loose and got in between the shoes and drum. When that happens it sounds like the shoes are bad and you hearing the grinding.

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Dan, these are relatively new tires and there are no issues at all there.

ST, I assumed the same and after inspecting all that and there is no indication of a problem. The mystery will continue until the sounds return, if it returns.

Thanks for your input.

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I think Surface nailed it! I've seen the paint come off the drums in long strips and make some funky noises also. Pull off the drums and check the groove that the lip of the backing plate fits into. If there is a lot off rust clean it out. I'll bet that is the deal.

I can't believe I didn't think of that! smile.gif

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

Ya it can be a nuisance when it happens. First time it happened to me(30 years ago) I bought new shoes only to find out they were fine. Since then its happened at least a dozen times and as recently as a week ago.

If you pull the drum off don't forget to back off the adjuster or you'll have a heck of a time getting it over the ridge.

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On the torque thing, make sure the technician actually torques the nut with a torque wrench and not a air impact wrench as the rollers in the bearing will be impacted into the races and you will have the noise all over again.

As for the Toyota, the bearings in the rear should be the taper-roller bearings (packable). If the grease looks more like wax than grease, they will need to be serviced and more than likely replaced. The noise could be caused by the struts or the upper strut mounts in the rear. There are also a couple of rubber bushings on the rear suspension that make some noise. Hard to tell with out being able to drive the car and get it to reproduce the noise.The rust lip on the inside of the drum as ST mentioned is a common problem, especially if the drums are the ones that the car came with. The cast from overseas that the vehicle comes with is a really poor grade of cast and rusts fast and tends to come off in good sized chunks. The North American castings are a lot higher quality and more resistant to rust and rust pitting.

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We're taking the Cutlass in tomorrow. I'll be on vacation for a week, but I'll report the results back when I return.

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