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Old 12-03-2008, 07:38 PM   #1
1saxman
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2003 VUE 3.0L
Default Now I'm Stumped

I was pretty sure I had wheel bearing(s) going out because of the noises. It would give a growling 'wah-wah' at wheel speed which became a steady whine at highway speed. This started very lightly a few months ago, and I was taking it for tire noise. In the meanwhile, I seviced the RDM with Versatrak fluid just because the fluid had about 35,000 miles on it. The old oil surprised me as to how good it looked - just a few brassy flecks and I had to put it in the sunlight to see those, and the oil was still transparent. Anyway, I'm driving the VUE some, not much, and it seems the more I drive it, the less noise it makes! Now I'm starting to think I had RDM noise all along, but it did not 'get better' as soon as I changed the fluid - it's been a month and now it 'gets well'? Never in all the many years that I've been driving and owning vehicles have I had one that would 'recover' from a major drivetrain symptom. Now, I have read here that RDMs sometimes take a few days to stop making noise when the fluid is changed - does anybody think this is what's happening? Obviously if it were wheel bearings, they would not get any quieter - or would they? I don't have much experience with these FWD hub-bearings. I've only had one 'old-style' packable bearing go bad, and that definitely got worse and worse. I recently checked for bearing play in all four wheels and could detect none with the wheel off the ground. Any thoughts?

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Old 12-03-2008, 08:44 PM   #2
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Default Re: Now I'm Stumped

That's pretty strange indeed. I agree that those kinds of noises generally only progress in one direction.

BTW, I picked up a few quarts of RP Synchromax. I think I'm going to dump my recently installed versatrak fluid from the RDM and see what (if any) contaminants the fluid picked up over the past couple of weeks. I'm a bit curious how some folks (like you) found relatively clear fluid and mine looked like bosco with gold glitter.

Cheers,

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Old 12-03-2008, 10:25 PM   #3
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Default Re: Now I'm Stumped

Yeah, I was shocked at the fluid pic you posted - I hope that RDM hangs in there for you. Please let us know your results with the RP.

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Old 12-03-2008, 11:53 PM   #4
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Default Re: Now I'm Stumped

1saxman ... it may be normal for your RDM noise to decrease with time.

I've read many web posts regarding noisy Versatraks AWD ... hold fire ... I realize there are big differences between VUE AWD and the real deal.

If I understood what I read -- GM released a noise quieting service bulletin (for AWD Aztecs, minivans, etc) which consisted of changing Versatrak fluid and then driving the vehicle in circles to the right for several minutes and then reversing directions for an equal period of time.

This maneuver supposedly distributed the new fluid throughout the clutch packs, resulting in significantly diminished RDM noise.

Some posts indicated the fluid was to be changed a second time ... others simply suggested checking fluid level.

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Old 12-04-2008, 07:06 PM   #5
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Default Re: Now I'm Stumped

Thanks; I was aware of all that, but now think the noise I've been hearing for some time is the RDM, and I was first thinking it was tire noise (Duelers, but low mileage), then wheel bearings as it got worse. The many posts here referring to the 'wah-wah' RDM noise I now think were referring to straight, regular driving, not the same grinding noise I heard years ago on tight turns. The dealer replaced the RDM 'drum' at that time. This is all very encouraging, because I really don't look forward to having one or more wheel bearings done at this time, and the noise has gotten so minor that I forget about it sometimes when driving. Common sense tells me a bad wheel bearing, regardless of type, is not going to get better without replacement. I think I will go to a parking lot tomorrow and do that circle routine and see what happens. It may sound strange, but I'd rather have RDM trouble than wheel bearing trouble. You can drive the car without the RDM until finding a used replacement or rebuilding it. I wouldn't mind cracking that sucker open. Worse comes to worse, I can drive it like any FWD VUE

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Old 12-04-2008, 11:48 PM   #6
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Default Re: Now I'm Stumped

I've read where others were tempted to go to FWD ... is it as simple as dropping both drive-shafts? I guess I don't know if the PTU (transfer case or whatever) on the 05 with 3.5L and 5 ATI would react unfavorably to less spinning mass.

I'm new to the Vue as I bought a used one this past summer. I've read so many negatives (usually from same members) about the AWD that I was really apprehensive until the last two weeks. We've had ice, snow and bitter cold weather (near 0 F tonight) and I couldn't be more pleased with the Vue.

I have three vehicles - all with 4X4 (Ford P/U) or AWD (Subaru Forester) and I can honestly say the Saturn is easier to for me to get around in than the other two. The Forester has limited ground clearance and the P/U is very tail twitchy on packed snow (ice).

My driveway is inclined from street to garage and the Vue motors along with no problem. My wife was putting the car in the garage this AM and I asked her to "blip" the throttle to spin the wheels. "Blip" means something different to her so she floored the puppy. All four wheels spun like crazy, throwing ice and snow as the car shot toward the garage.

She hauled it in well short of doing damage but we won't test AWD in that manner again.

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