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Old 08-11-2009, 06:09 AM   #1
pnguin34
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Default Would a bad front wheel bearing go quiet on turns?

98 Saturn SL2, 200k miles, with a droning sound from the front left. But when I turn to the right, for example on an on-ramp, the sound goes away. When pointing straight or turning to the left the sound is there. One garage said they thought it was my tire but after swapping fronts to back the sound is still in the front. On the lift they said it didn't make noise when running. Another garage (a tire place) said they thought it was the bearing. I've read the instructions that I found here for replacing a front bearing and will give that a shot, but if a bad bearing would always make noise even in turns then it could be something else and I don't want to spend that much time fixing a non-problem. Any advice? Thanks all!

- dave
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Old 08-11-2009, 07:34 AM   #2
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Default Re: Would a bad front wheel bearing go quiet on turns?

It's a wheel bearing. If you brought it to two different shops and neither of them could tell you that you needed a wheel bearing I would never go back to either of those two shops. Those are classic signs of a bad wheel bearing. I would replace them both in the front, once one is gone, the other isn't far behind.
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Old 08-11-2009, 08:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: Would a bad front wheel bearing go quiet on turns?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Squareback View Post
...If you brought it to two different shops and neither of them could tell you that you needed a wheel bearing I would never go back to either of those two shops...
...and soon, after there are no shops left (because you have banned them all!) you'll be grumbling and doing the work yourself, just like bumpdraft

Here is my 1998 wheel bearing
Print this and show it to the next service tech you see.
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Old 08-11-2009, 08:55 AM   #4
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Default Re: Would a bad front wheel bearing go quiet on turns?

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Originally Posted by squareback View Post
it's a wheel bearing. If you brought it to two different shops and neither of them could tell you that you needed a wheel bearing i would never go back to either of those two shops. Those are classic signs of a bad wheel bearing. I would replace them both in the front, once one is gone, the other isn't far behind.
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Old 08-11-2009, 11:47 AM   #5
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Default Re: Would a bad front wheel bearing go quiet on turns?

From my experience, when turning towards the bad bearing, the noise goes away. When driving straight the noise returns, and when turning away from the bad bearing, the noise gets worse. A few members on this forum have explained this phenomenon. Hopefully one of them will see your thread and explain it again. If it's bad enough, you can jack the front end up, grab the tire at 3 and 9 o'clock and check for play in and out alternately.

My guess is it's your right bearing that's bad.
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Old 08-11-2009, 11:55 AM   #6
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Default Re: Would a bad front wheel bearing go quiet on turns?

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If it's bad enough, you can jack the front end up, grab the tire at 3 and 9 o'clock and check for play in and out alternately.
That will hardly ever happen with the type of bearing used on the S-Series. The bearing is sandwiched between the axle and the axle nut which has a high torque rating. The bearing would have to be almost falling out of the car for there to be any noticeable play in it. I've done a LOT of them, and only one has ever had noticeable play, and most of the ball bearings had worked their way out and were missing/ground up by the rotor.
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Old 08-11-2009, 12:53 PM   #7
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Default Re: Would a bad front wheel bearing go quiet on turns?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Squareback View Post
That will hardly ever happen with the type of bearing used on the S-Series. The bearing is sandwiched between the axle and the axle nut which has a high torque rating. The bearing would have to be almost falling out of the car for there to be any noticeable play in it. I've done a LOT of them, and only one has ever had noticeable play, and most of the ball bearings had worked their way out and were missing/ground up by the rotor.
With all due respect Squareback, like my quote in your reply says, If it's bad enough. That was my experience when my right wheel-bearing went bad. I'm just trying to give pnguin34 something to try, to narrow it down to which bearing it may be in case he doesn't want to change both right away.
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Old 08-17-2009, 09:23 PM   #8
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Default Re: Would a bad front wheel bearing go quiet on turns?

An update from the original request...

I replaced the right wheel bearing over the weekend and the noise has gone away! I'm glad of quickster's recommendation towards the right one because I was sure the sound was coming from the left one. Also, there was no play in the right wheel so I guess it wasn't really bad, but bad enough.

Thanks to all for replying.

- dave

Last edited by pnguin34; 08-17-2009 at 09:25 PM. Reason: more info
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Old 08-17-2009, 09:53 PM   #9
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Default Re: Would a bad front wheel bearing go quiet on turns?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpdraft View Post
...and soon, after there are no shops left (because you have banned them all!) you'll be grumbling and doing the work yourself, just like bumpdraft

Here is my 1998 wheel bearing
Print this and show it to the next service tech you see.
wow that looks awesome. I had a front wheel bearing crack in half when we pulled it apart. I ended up getting a new knuckle and hub
...
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Old 01-15-2013, 02:08 PM   #10
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Default Re: Would a bad front wheel bearing go quiet on turns?

I know thread is old but I can't seem to figure out how to make a new one so it correlates to this issue and I figured I would just ask the question I have here. I have a 98 Saturn SL and I'm having some type of steering issue. I can't seem to figure this out. I have replaced the Lower Control Arms on both side brand new, I just put in new axles, and about 6 months ago I did the inner and outter tie rod ends. I also bought some used quick struts from a junkyard. When I turn my steering wheel all the way to the left it doesn't want to straighten back out.
It has kind of a veer while on the road (wandering). I'm wondering if you guys think this sounds more like Rack and Pinion or wheel bearings? Is there a way to check the wheel bearings in this car? I don't want to spend money on the wrong parts cause I'm not rich..lol I have been rebuilding the whole front end.. Oh and I just redid the Front sway bar bushings also. Thank you guys and have a good day.
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:37 PM   #11
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Default Re: Would a bad front wheel bearing go quiet on turns?

You need proper toe-in and camber for the wheel to return to center. Just a little bit of positive or negative camber evenly applied to both wheels makes them either want to pull together or pull apart, and they will do so until the forces even out, which is when they are facing forward (camber changes on turns). I believe that the proper front setting is slightly positive by about 1 degree, but I actually have mine set 1 degree negative. Verify actual specifications for proper alignment.

OEM struts don't really have much of a camber adjustment, and so should fall into proper place if nothing is bent. Aftermarket struts are typically adjustable with a slot where they are bolted to the knuckles.

If your toe is too far in or out, the car will also not self-center. You can check toe reasonably with a tape measure on the tread, provided that the tread is even, and the tires run true. It's best to have the toe set professionally by a reputable alignment shop. 1/16 toe in +/- 1/16 is decent.

Caster also helps the steering self center, as the wheels are pulled back and the car drops down as the steering centers (turning the wheels actually lifts the car due to the angle of the steering axis). However, this adjustment is not normally changeable, and should be correct if nothing is bent.

Joints that are not properly lubricated will prevent the steering from moving freely. Standard OEM Saturn ball joints are permanently sealed, and should stay lubricated for a long time. I added grease fittings to my ball joints, and my aftermarket tie rod ends came with grease fittings.

Pertaining to the original poster's post, it is somewhat difficult to discern wheel bearing noise from tire noise. Except for when one ball gets nicked badly and causes a thumping/grinding, the roaring can be difficult to distinguish. One car I owned had terrible noise and rumbling that would shake the car. It also changed when I made turns. I swore it was the wheel bearings, and replaced them, but it did not go away. Shops could not diagnose it, either. Then, when I replaced the cupped snow tires, with new all-weather tires, the car was completely silent. The tires were never rotated, and so uneven wear developed.

My '99 SL2 had a roar that did not go away on turns, but sounded like it was coming from the intermediate shaft bearing. Its replacement did not solve the problem. Replacing the left front wheel bearing solved the problem, however.

In my '49-'54 Chevrolet manual (written by Chevrolet), they recommend briefly filling the tires to 50 psi to discern between tire and differential/bearing noises. Supposedly when the tires are over-inflated, the tire noise goes away. I have never tried this. They also say to immediately reduce the tires to normal pressure upon completing the test due to the danger of rupture, though I have heard of people running modern tires on their Saturns at 50 psi for regular use to increase fuel economy. ...so do it at your own risk.
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Old 01-15-2013, 09:33 PM   #12
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Default Re: Would a bad front wheel bearing go quiet on turns?

i'll just leave this here...

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Old 01-15-2013, 10:05 PM   #13
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Default Re: Would a bad front wheel bearing go quiet on turns?

As for posting a new thread, scroll to the top of this page. Just above the first post you will see a button for making a new reply to this thread. Further up you will see where the thread tree is broken down in blue clickable hyperlinks. If you click on the one that says s-series tech it will take you to that directory, where all of the newest threads in the tech section are. On that screen if you look in about the same place as where the reply to thread button was before you will now find a button that says start new thread. Give it a reasonably descriptive title and put your indepth account of the problem including year and model (presumeably a type of s-series since your in s-series tech) and approximate miles on the car. While not always needed your location can help too since certain things can happen due to local weather and climate as well.
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:21 PM   #14
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Default Re: Would a bad front wheel bearing go quiet on turns?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pnguin34 View Post
98 Saturn SL2, 200k miles, with a droning sound from the front left. But when I turn to the right, for example on an on-ramp, the sound goes away. When pointing straight or turning to the left the sound is there. One garage said they thought it was my tire but after swapping fronts to back the sound is still in the front. On the lift they said it didn't make noise when running. Another garage (a tire place) said they thought it was the bearing. I've read the instructions that I found here for replacing a front bearing and will give that a shot, but if a bad bearing would always make noise even in turns then it could be something else and I don't want to spend that much time fixing a non-problem. Any advice? Thanks all!

- dave
well my rear brakes caused this for a few weeks after i scrwed with em
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Old 01-18-2013, 04:29 AM   #15
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Happy Re: Would a bad front wheel bearing go quiet on turns?

td1238 about that Chevy manual advising to increase tire pressure to 50 to effectively reduce tire noise. Let me tell you the non dangers of this idea. When I lived in south Texas where summer temps range in the mid 90's to well over 100 degree's. I drove and old Buick with old tires, they looked healthy enough. Well around town they worked just fine. Take that car out on the highway and after an hour or so I would get a blow out. This kept occurring, so one day I checked the tire pressure after a half hour of being on the highway. The tire pressure was 65 psi an increase of 33 psi from the heat on surface of the highway. That is why the tires kept blowing out. So in retrospect your 50 psi is nothing compared to 65 psi. Not to say 50 psi is a safe psi because in rainy weather your braking will be very dangerous and making turns will require much lower speeds .
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Old 01-18-2013, 02:47 PM   #16
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Default Re: Would a bad front wheel bearing go quiet on turns?

Quote:
Originally Posted by magtec View Post
i'll just leave this here...

I bet THAT one was starting to make a little noise!!!

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