: Tire(s), Wheel Bearing, or Other



jasonjsimon
07-12-12, 08:09 PM
Hoping to get some ideas on how to narrow down where a sound is coming from in my STS Northstar. For many months I've been hearing a droning sound above about 25MPH. Can't tell if it is tire/pavement sound or not.

For a while there, the sound would come and go... not certain if it varied by road surface, but now the sound is present anytime I'm above that 25mph mark.

I replaced the rear tires a few months back with the hope that it was just worn tires, but that made no difference.

I was starting to believe it was the front tires since I can't hear anything at all outside the car (no dragging, ticking, clunking at high or low speeds).

The only clue I have is that when I turn the wheel significantly to the right, it quiets down - not fully gone, but a bit less noise. I believe that is an indication of a wheel bearing, so I put each corner up on a jack and pulled/pushed on each direction of the wheel to see if I had any play - and nothing. Very tight.

I thought by now (after having the problem for probably close to 8 months and 15k miles), that I should have play in the wheels if it was a bearing. Now that the sound has gotten louder it almost makes talking at a soft voice inaudible while at speed. I had hoped the problem would manifest itself by now.

Looking for other ideas, or other tests I can do to narrow this down... I have noticed I have a very small leak at the rear differential... no idea if that could be related. Any thoughts?

curtc
07-12-12, 08:33 PM
So, do some slalom type turns at a speed where the sound is present during normal operation, SAFELY, back and forth from one way to the other, does the sound change pitch or diminish? If so, then yes, you can safely assume it's a wheel bearing.

EChas3
07-12-12, 10:50 PM
^^^^ True that!

willysmooo
07-13-12, 02:23 PM
I had some similar noises, I just had both front CV axles replaced...my car had 110k though. However it made a huge difference in how it drives,goes into gear, sounds...etc....in metro detroit we have lots of machine shops so I got remanufactures axles installed for $570 for both....the OEM price for one cv axle is like $480, however you can get em at gmpartsdepartment for $230.00 or so...if it is a wheel bearing you can get TImken from Autozone for $224.00 vs the GM oem price of $480.00(gmpartsdepartment is $227.00 for the OEM if you order it from there)...they are really simple to change....2 caliper braket bolts, 3 wheel bearing bolts(all of these connect the knuckle) and then the CV axle shaft nut.....take you prob an hour maybe...I cant find the torque specs as I just did my left front(found one at schramauto for $125, off a 2010 STS with 3k miles)...

jasonjsimon
07-13-12, 03:26 PM
I had some similar noises, I just had both front CV axles replaced...my car had 110k though. However it made a huge difference in how it drives,goes into gear, sounds...etc....in metro detroit we have lots of machine shops so I got remanufactures axles installed for $570 for both....the OEM price for one cv axle is like $480, however you can get em at gmpartsdepartment for $230.00 or so...if it is a wheel bearing you can get TImken from Autozone for $224.00 vs the GM oem price of $480.00(gmpartsdepartment is $227.00 for the OEM if you order it from there)...they are really simple to change....2 caliper braket bolts, 3 wheel bearing bolts(all of these connect the knuckle) and then the CV axle shaft nut.....take you prob an hour maybe...I cant find the torque specs as I just did my left front(found one at schramauto for $125, off a 2010 STS with 3k miles)...

Awesome response. Thank you so much for this information!

I do notice that while turning right, the sound diminishes - which supports the possibility of this being a wheel bearing. - I just wish I could figure out which one. Is there a more definitive way to do this? I have the AWD, so I can't believe I have a way to spin the wheel to listen or feel for the grinding.

So glad to hear the replacement is so easy. I tried it once with a BMW 3 series and it was a horrible experience (requiring shop press equipment, etc).

Thanks.

EChas3
07-14-12, 09:26 PM
I think the GM-approved wheel bearing replacement is an assembly.

jasonjsimon
07-17-12, 12:09 AM
Okay, just a slight update. The sound got louder to/from work today. Sound goes quieter when turning right and I've read this can potentially narrow the problem to the driver front corner. I jacked that wheel up again, and discovered some minimal play. It hardly moves up and down, but I'm pretty sure there is movement. That's the best I can do as far as I know without pulling the hub out to look at it. I couldn't do that since I don't have the right socket for the axle. So decided to risk it and went ahead and ordered a front hub assembly and some large sockets (I think it is 35mm, but the set comes with 34mm and 36mm just in case). Should be able to report back within the next few days. Fingers are crossed.

curtc
07-17-12, 12:44 AM
Not a hard job at all, 2 hours tops in the driveway with a few cold ones.

jasonjsimon
07-18-12, 09:46 PM
Not a hard job at all, 2 hours tops in the driveway with a few cold ones.

Good to know. Besides the big socket for the axle nut, are there any other unusual tools that I might need get hold of?
Thank you.

curtc
07-18-12, 10:54 PM
Look into a slide hammer, it'll make life a lot easier when it comes time to remove the hub assembly.

jasonjsimon
07-24-12, 07:14 PM
Slight update. I'm still waiting for UPS to deliver the replacement hub assembly today, but while waiting I pulled out the old one. Actually I don't see anything physically wrong with it and when spinning it, I don't hear any grinding or anything... Starting to think I got the wrong one. I guess worst case is, I start replacing them one by one until I find it.... Just hope that it isn't something else entirely different.

jasonjsimon
07-24-12, 10:51 PM
Well..... put the new hub assembly on and I still have the annoying rumbling sound. I can't feel any play in the other wheels so I'm down to doing these:
Replace other front wheel bearing (still quiets down when turning right). If that doesn't work, then I guess I start replacing the rears.
Or
Replace the front tires as they are nearing the end of any substantial tread.
Or
Go in and get all tires road force balanced (this helped get rid of a bunch of vibration in my BMW).

All of these have a pretty significant cost, so I'd love to get some input or other ideas.

Thanks.

jimmy buffet
07-25-12, 02:05 PM
What side did u replace...use pass or driver side...also what side makes noise...not everyone know direction of sitting in the car...some say looking at engine...as for cv look or grease or slop all over...

jasonjsimon
07-25-12, 07:26 PM
What side did u replace...use pass or driver side...also what side makes noise...not everyone know direction of sitting in the car...some say looking at engine...as for cv look or grease or slop all over...

I replaced the driver side hub assembly. The noise subsides (doesn't disappear completely, but I would guess 80-90% quieter) when turning the car to the right. Do you think I should have replaced the passenger side?

curtc
07-25-12, 08:44 PM
I replaced the driver side hub assembly. The noise subsides (doesn't disappear completely, but I would guess 80-90% quieter) when turning the car to the right. Do you think I should have replaced the passenger side?

When turning to the right you are unloading the passenger side bearing, that's why it quiets down...you did the wrong one unfortunately if you replaced the drivers side.

jasonjsimon
07-25-12, 11:00 PM
When turning to the right you are unloading the passenger side bearing, that's why it quiets down...you did the wrong one unfortunately if you replaced the drivers side.

Crap. Well that has given me a renewed hope I can still fix this. :-) just ordered another hub.
Really, the job of replacing the hub is not bad at all, and I guess I'm not doing any harm by replacing them both anyway. Will report back in a week or so once I get the new one on....

Thank you!

curtc
07-26-12, 12:23 AM
Yeah, it's really not too bad. If you can change brakes you can swap out a hub assembly...

jasonjsimon
08-04-12, 10:23 AM
Thankfully my last update.... changed out the front passenger side hub assembly and no more rumbling!! There was no play in the bearing but it was grinding just slightly, even though I have heard this for at least 6 months. Anyway I'm truly pleased to have finally got it fixed and thankful to everyone that responded. Thanks!

Pjazz
08-05-12, 01:29 AM
Thanks for the update. It's good to know those symtoms if I ever get them.