Troubleshooting Car Front Suspension and Wheel Problems from Noises or Rumbling Sounds
Unusual sounds when the car is moving.
An unusual noise or sound coming from your car when you are driving usually means one thing. Money!
Before you rush off to the dealership or workshop mechanic to troubleshoot the problem, consider this.
Many mechanics are just lousy trouble-shooters, so it is a good idea to have a bit of information yourself first.
You have probably had this experience before.
Your car makes a noise, and the mechanic keep replacing parts without finding the source of the problem, or replaces several parts that do not need replacing before he finds the problem.
Most motor mechanics who do this will tell you your car needed all those parts replacing when the truth was that he just kept replacing parts at your expense until he found out what was wrong.
This happens often unfortunately with suspension and engine/drive-train problems.
It is also common after an accident when guesses are made as to which components are bent or have been stressed.
My biggest challenge in running my mechanical businesses was always finding top mechanics.
To give you an idea of how hard that is, one business I rebuilt for a client had 13 mechanics. I replaced 9 of them!
That's the real world. I needed quality mechanics and had to source them even from other countries. Incidentally I was able to replace the 9 mechanics with 7 who did twice as much work in half the time, and the repair quality saved the business from certain bankruptcy.
After many years in this industry I still marvel at the pure bulldust mechanics tell their customers and get away with.
If you are a follower of my car articles you will know that I try to teach non-mechanically minded people how to avoid getting ripped off by the motor industry.
It is very useful to be able to troubleshoot your car problem from the noises it makes. It is not as hard to do as it seems if you understand it.
Firstly, look for the obvious,
- Have you driven over something that could have damaged your car?
- Have you been the only driver ... or could someone else have bumped something?
- Have you hit a curb a bit hard?
- Hit a really big bump that made your suspension make a loud "thunk" noise?
Any of these events could cause your wheels to go out of alignment. When the wheels are not aligned you will get a lot of tire noise.
Two totally different tire noises are common.
- A normal tyre rumbling noise on the highway, but much loader than usual, or coming from one side of the car only, usually the one closest to the curb.
- A screeching sound when you go around corners even slowly.
Other suspension noises.
If you hear a constant rumbling noise coming from one front wheel, that changes as you go faster or slower, it will often be a worn wheel bearing. No big deal to repair except on 4wd vehicles, where it can be expensive.
The other cause of this noise is exclusive to front wheel drive or 4 wheel drive vehicles, and is a bit tricky to pick.
Drive joint noise. CV joints or short shafts. They all have universal joints that can make noise when worn out.
A quick way to see if a front wheel drive vehicle has worn out CV joints is to drive the car in a tight circle and listen for a clicking sound. The clicking sound means that the CV joint needs replacing. Usually 3 to 4 hundred dollars for both sides. (Always replace both sides)
If tire pressure is too low the tire will make a large rumbling sound that will seem to be coming through the vehicle.This will be more pronounced as you increase speed.
This is because the tire is having it's walls destroyed! Put air in it now!
Keeping front tire pressures identical for both sides is essential for good braking.