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Old 04-20-2018, 12:54 AM   #1
JediTiger
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1999 SL2
2001 SL1
Information Groan while steering not always audible

Greetings!

I have searched these forums and other places and talked with folks and am getting a wide array of possibilities. I'm needing some guidance with my 1999 Saturn SL2. It has 198k+ miles.

Since we got the car, it has had a groan. The groan is only audible while driving. It is not heard when idling. It starts around 20 MPH and is loudest at around 30 MPH and then at 60 MPH and above. The groan is loud enough to drown out the normal engine sound. The groan doesn't appear to be a transmission problem as it only changes with the speed of the car. It doesn't change as the car changes gears. The groan seems to be just up front. The groan doesn't seem to inhibit driving the car but the noise has gotten gradually louder since we've owned it.

I've read similar posts with some of this info. I'm asking because my issue is a little different. When the wheels are straight ahead (the steering wheel is at center), the groan is heard but is not loud. If you turn the wheel to the right, the groan gets louder but does not get worse the more you turn it to the right.

The kicker is that when you turn the wheels to the left of center, the noise goes away. As in the car sounds like a normal car. It's great. But as soon as you turn the steering back to center or to the right of center, the noise returns.

Any thoughts?

I've been told it could be a bad: power steering pump, fluid, CV joints, tie rod ends, rack and pinion, leaking power steering pump among other stuff.

I will add that I replaced with power steering fluid with Lucas Power Steering Stop Leak and the groan did not change. It has been driven for 2 weeks after I added the Lucas.

Thank you for any help, advice or support you could offer

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Old 04-20-2018, 06:29 AM   #2
Signmaster
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1995 SL1
Default Re: Groan while steering not always audible

Sounds to me more like a PS pump issue, but the only way to know is to troubleshoot and eliminate other possible causes. It sounds as though your PS pump might be leaking, and if so this is a possible indication of problems. There was a factory TSB on pumps, and certain years had issues. The original on our '95 started leaking, a seal wouldn't fix the leak, and a search here led me to the TSB on some shafts being out of spec. It leaked and also moaned, but not nearly as loud as you describe. We replaced it and all it quiet now.

If you have worn steering and suspension components, sometimes tire moan is due to wear patterns. Generally if your tires are wearing evenly and your alignment seems ok probably less possible. If you have more worn tires on the front, sometimes swapping fronts/rears of otherwise rotating the tires will change the sound and give you an indication of what is up.

...
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Old 04-20-2018, 06:50 AM   #3
Waiex191
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1999 SL2
1998 SC2
Default Re: Groan while steering not always audible

Does it groan when you are driving but making no steering inputs? Is it quiet if you are doing a constant left turn with or without steering inputs? My first thought would be a wheel bearing or CV joint.

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Old 04-20-2018, 08:20 AM   #4
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Groan while steering not always audible

Wheel bearing, CV joints make popping noises at low speed hard turns such as right or left turns in a residential neighborhood. If it is a bad wheel bearing replace both sides and the hubs at the same time.

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Old 04-20-2018, 09:04 AM   #5
Jonasan308
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Default Re: Groan while steering not always audible

That sounds like wheel bearing noise, if it comes and goes with steering angle changes.

I liken it to listening to a riding mower run. It sounds something like that right?

...
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Old 04-22-2018, 03:17 AM   #6
JediTiger
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2001 SL1
Default Re: Groan while steering not always audible

Thank you! I had thought the tire wear could be a possibility. I'll have to try rotating tires and see if that changes the noise. Would uneven tire wear also cause a vibration as the vehicle speeds up? It's been there but I really noticed it today while driving the car.

I will also search the TSBs to check that angle. I've been watching videos on the power steering and such. Seems I should check for a leak and also for a bad switch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Signmaster View Post
Sounds to me more like a PS pump issue, but the only way to know is to troubleshoot and eliminate other possible causes. It sounds as though your PS pump might be leaking, and if so this is a possible indication of problems. There was a factory TSB on pumps, and certain years had issues. The original on our '95 started leaking, a seal wouldn't fix the leak, and a search here led me to the TSB on some shafts being out of spec. It leaked and also moaned, but not nearly as loud as you describe. We replaced it and all it quiet now.

If you have worn steering and suspension components, sometimes tire moan is due to wear patterns. Generally if your tires are wearing evenly and your alignment seems ok probably less possible. If you have more worn tires on the front, sometimes swapping fronts/rears of otherwise rotating the tires will change the sound and give you an indication of what is up.

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Old 04-22-2018, 03:18 AM   #7
JediTiger
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Default Re: Groan while steering not always audible

I don't recall any popping noises while making those turns but I will definitely pay more attention as I'm driving it tomorrow. Thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Wheel bearing, CV joints make popping noises at low speed hard turns such as right or left turns in a residential neighborhood. If it is a bad wheel bearing replace both sides and the hubs at the same time.

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Old 04-22-2018, 03:21 AM   #8
JediTiger
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Default Re: Groan while steering not always audible

Yes! Yes, it does. It's not an exact correlation but it does sound somewhat similar to that.

I also noticed today that the noise doesn't *completely* go away when steering to the left but the vibration goes away and the noise is so much quieter while steering to the left.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonasan308 View Post
That sounds like wheel bearing noise, if it comes and goes with steering angle changes.

I liken it to listening to a riding mower run. It sounds something like that right?

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Old 04-22-2018, 03:32 AM   #9
JediTiger
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2001 SL1
Default Re: Groan while steering not always audible

Yes, if you're driving straight ahead or turning right, the groan is audible. If you turn to the left of center, the noise goes away (mostly: there is a very slight noise heard when turning left.)

I'm guessing you mean no steering inputs meaning not actively turning the steering wheel? If so, then yes. The groan happens with or without steering but the noise goes get quieter when steering to the left.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Waiex191 View Post
Does it groan when you are driving but making no steering inputs? Is it quiet if you are doing a constant left turn with or without steering inputs? My first thought would be a wheel bearing or CV joint.

...
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