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Old 03-25-2010, 09:25 PM   #1
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Default Very bad front end whine...

Hey gang. I hope some of you veterans can help me out.
Its a 2004 LeSabre Custom, with the NA 3.8L. 116k miles.

I know noise diagnosis is tough over internet, but I'm looking for areas to check.
Its a really bad buzz coming through the front end.
I can feel it in the steering wheel.
Its gotten progressively worse in the last day.
No ABS lights on.
It matches road speed exactly, engine rpm does not affect it at all. It actually sounds a lot like supercharger whine, or a small block gear drive setup, but varying with road speed instead of engine speed, and you can really feel it.
Applying brakes does nothing to change the sound at all.
It doesn't appear that I can "load" the bearings, in other words, turning either direction doesn't seem to make the noise any worse left or right.
Its not a pulsation, shimmy, shake, or repetitive vibration. Its just a constant whine.

Going through the full range of gears manually does not affect the sound.
I've rotated the tires front to back, no change. I've checked for play in the bearings, nothing. I've checked for play in axles, nothing. Checked all 4 tires for signs of tread separation. Nothing, not a crack, blister, bump. Checked caliper to disc clearance. Fine.

What am I missing? 2 days ago, it was fine. Yesterday it started on the way into work, but not bad. On the way home, it drowned out my radio. Kinda hate to ask, but what are the chances my trans is screwed? It has fluid. It was flushed about 2 months ago, shifts fine, no slip.

I've had automatics die before, but they usually start to slip, or loose a gear. Blew up 3 in my turbo Regal alone.

Something I'm overlooking? Any ideas? If it is the trans, its still under the car dealer'* warranty with $100 deductible.
I've blown up every automatic I've ever owned, with exception of the TH400 in my 73 Electra. :(

What I have done recently:
New front pads and rotors. Wheel lugs were torqued to spec (i.e. not buzzed on with an impact). All brake components were torqued to spec and not buzzed back on with an impact. (Only used impact for disassemble.)
Trans was flushed about 2 months ago.
Had tires balanced and rotated about 3 weeks ago.
Thats it...
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Old 03-25-2010, 09:29 PM   #2
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Sounds like a bad wheel hub.
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Old 03-25-2010, 09:41 PM   #3
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Thats what I had thought too.
But if the bearing was going bad, wouldn't it likely trigger an ABS fault for that wheel? Or are GMs not that picky? I know on Chrysler stuff, you so much as look at a sensor wrong and it throws a code.
I grabbed both front tires, tried pulling them in and out, side to side, and shaking top to bottom. It felt normal? I've pitched the car into some hard corners either way, and the noise doesn't go away.
Initially, thats what I was hoping it was. 3 bolts, a connector, and its out (besides taking the brakes back apart anyway). I know these cars have a history of bearing/hub issues. But none of the tests I've done point to that, so its making me nervous now, since I was almost sure it was a bearing.
I'm stumped on this one..

How else would you check for a bad bearing/hub?
I hate replacing tons of parts in an attempt to eliminate what it isn't.
I have the FSM, and it leads to either the axles or hubs. But both appear ok to me.
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Old 03-25-2010, 09:45 PM   #4
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No, it will not trip a WSS light if the hub is bad. I just changed put a hub on a Montana, and that'* the same as the Bonneville. No code, and could not tell it was bad other then the sound. I pulled the hub and checked it. The hub turned very hard. Installed new hub and sound was gone.
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Old 03-25-2010, 09:58 PM   #5
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So how do you decide which side is the one going bad?
I tried to feel for a temperature difference after driving home from work (20 miles) and felt no temp differential between either side.(Like one was binding up creating more heat).
I put it in neutral earlier to check the caliper to disc clearance, and both sides seemed to turn ok.
If one turns harder than the other, can you use a torque wrench on the axle nut to see if there is a measured difference between the sides?
After tomorrow I finally have a weekend off, so its not a case of time. I just really have no place good to work on the car, especially when its raining. I'd rather get the side that needs it done without guessing.
Not to mention I'm coming down with a cold the past 2 days. Great time to work on a car outside in 40 degree rain, huh? lol.
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Old 03-25-2010, 10:00 PM   #6
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Listen to the sound when you turn a corner. When it'* louder, it'* the outside wheel.
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Old 03-25-2010, 10:01 PM   #7
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Jack the car up so 1 wheel will turn and have someone sit inside and run the car up to about 35 MPH (do this on each side) and you listen at the wheel while they are doing this. If you have a bad wheel bearing, you'll hear it.
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Old 03-25-2010, 10:06 PM   #8
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I was thinking that, but my driveway is nothing more than mud, clay and some rock. Its tough enough to jack the car up, I don't think its safe to do something like that. Not here, anyway. A lot of times, I try to jack up a car, and the jack sinks further into the ground than it raises the car! lol
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Old 03-25-2010, 10:14 PM   #9
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How about going into some parking lot with a jack and a jackstand?
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Old 03-25-2010, 10:21 PM   #10
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Thats a possibility. We could use the road in front of the neighbors house (its a dead end street), hopefully he doesn't come home, cuz he hates me working on my cars, especially the air tools, and if I'm even remotely in his way.
At least I know the parking brakes work great in case anything happens.
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