Mechanics

PASSENGER SIDE TIRE NOISE/SHAKE

1997 Nissan Altima • 4 cylinder FWD Automatic • 150,000 miles

I have a 97 nissan altima and I'm having a problem with the passenger side front tire. It was shaking and making a kind of tapping/grinding sound you can feel on the passenger side floor with your feet. I replaced the control arm and tie rods, and got a new tire and got it balanced and the problem is still there. It seems to be only under acceleration or cruising, when I let go of the gas it stop. A mechaninc noticed my motor mount was non existent and I got that replaced and I'm pretty sure it stopped for a day or two but maybe I wasn't going fast enough or paying attention cuz I thought it was fixed. But anyway it still does it, is it possible he didn't do a good job with the mount or since its only when pressing the gas maybe its the drive shaft on that side? There's no clicking on turns or anything to indicate bad cv joints, just a shakey tire and the tapping noise on the passenger side floor. Could it be a bent drive shaft or something?
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Graylaw84
July 22, 2011.



Jack the front of the car up and run it in gear, then watch that wheel. You may have to block the left wheel from rotating. Be careful that what you use is wedged tightly so it doesn't come shooting out. Watch the right wheel to see if it's spinning true or wobbling side-to-side. If it's wobbling, have that one rechecked on a tire balancer, not for balance, but for being bent. They forget to look for that when new tires are installed because a protective hood comes down over the tire and they can't easily see it spin.

If there's no wobbling, suspect the inner cv joint. They will bind on worn spots when under load. When the rollers can't move freely to change length and angle as the shaft rotates, it will push on the spindle which pushes on the steering linkage. The load doesn't exist when coasting so the binding doesn't occur then.

If you see the wheel wobble on the car but not on the tire balancer, suspect a bent hub or debris stuck between the wheel and brake rotor. The bent hub can be hard to see. A dial indicator set up next to it will show the amount of "lateral runout". That is sideways movement that occurs as it rotates. It will be magnified by the wheel. A severely warped brake rotor can cause the same sensation. As long as it doesn't have thickness variation around it, you might not feel that warpage in the brake pedal.

Caradiodoc
Jul 22, 2011.
Hi, thanks for the detailed response. I see the ties shaking is addressed but would any of these more than the others be a problem for the noise that's coming with it? And only when the gas is being pressed. Its a hard noise to put in words, but you can feel it in the passenger side floor, it sounds like tapping or thumping, but not a thump more like "k" sound, and like if u put a card in a bicycle tire and spin it slow, its not just one or two clicks, not on turn like the common cv joint symptom, just some sort of grindy tap on the passenger floor when acceleration or cruising, not coasting as u mentioned. I wish I could describe it better because as I read it back it still doesn't do it justice, but hopefully you have an idea. And the tire we replaced was almost all the way worn on the outside edge, but still had tread in the middle and inside edge. I don't know if that points to anything in particular, because I'm guessing no matter which issue is causing the shake/wobble the tire would wear like that no matter what, but I thought that detail MIGHT help. Thanks again for helping. I haven't had bearing checked my a mechanic but that's because there's no play in the wheel, although ill check again tomorrow morning, but from what I remember the play was fixed when the control arm and tie rods were replaced, and I haven't considered it cuz maybe when I say grind it isn't the best way to describe the noise, because from what I've experienced the bearing is a whining kind of grind and you don't necessarily feel it on the floor. Its a very quick tapping/ticking u can feel on the floor that gives u the impression something down there is kind of grinding, its hard to explain in words. So is the axle and the drive shaft different? Someone once told me if it was the axle it would always make the noise as long as the tires are rolling, rather then only when the gas is being depressed. Is this true?

Tiny
Graylaw84
Jul 22, 2011.
That tire wear might or might not be related but it is not normal. First you have to look at the other tire to see if it has the same wear. If it does, the "total toe" is misadjusted. That means the fronts of the two tires are closer together than the rears and they are scrubbing going down the road. That makes the leading edge wear down. To exaggerate it for clarity, imagine the right front tire turned to the left, ... More, and more, until it is at 90 degrees to the car. It can't really turn that far, but now it's easy to visualize that the outside edge is toward the front of the car, and is the "leading edge". Now compare that to pencil eraser. Hold the pencil straight up with the eraser end down and on the table. Put a little downward pressure on the eraser, then drag the pencil sideways across the table. You'll see the leading edge scrub off and make eraser crumbs, but the trailing edge lifts off the table and no wear takes place. That's what's happening to your tires when total toe is not adjusted to specifications.

The additional clue to a toe problem is that high and low area occurs on each block of rubber tread. Each block will have a high, unworn side and a low, worn side. As you rub your hand over them one way your fingers will move smoothly even though you'll feel the unevenness, but if you rub your hand the other way, your fingers will catch on the raised spots. It's similar to running your fingers both ways along the teeth of a round saw blade. Smooth one way, sharp the other way.

If that wear is only taking place on the one tire, that's a lot easier to describe. "Camber" is a different alignment angle that has to do with the inward or outward tilt of the wheel as viewed from in front or back of the car. If the right tire has too much positive camber, it is leaning out on top. That will cause it to run on the outer edge which will wear faster. Some clues are that only affects that one tire, and camber makes a tire want to roll in the direction it's leaning so your right tire wants to pull the car to the right. You will notice that as the car going to the right when you let go of the steering wheel. Camber wear also leaves that worn part of the tire smooth, not with raised and low areas on each block of tread.

Taking the shaking and tire wear together, a sloppy wheel bearing comes to mind although if bad enough, that will usually cause the wheel to tilt in on top, not out. But being front-wheel-drive, that would also cause that tire to turn left under acceleration. That could account for the outer tire wear, and being sloppy, the entire hub and wheel would shake back and forth.

A tire and alignment specialist should have no problem finding the cause when there are so many clues to look at. Have the steering and suspension systems inspected by a different shop if the first one can't figure it out.

Caradiodoc
Jul 22, 2011.
Ok, well yes it was on just that tire, and I already replaced it so I can't look for the other clues. The first shop is the one that replaced the control arm, tie rods, and motor mount, and it still does it so I guess I gotta take it somewhere else like you suggested. I guess an alignment specialist since you've mentioned that. No one still seems to be familiar with the noise I'm mentioning, altho someone did say he was thinking a bearing and u mentioned that too so in the morning I'm gonna jack the car up and look for play. If not I guess ill go for the alignment and see if that fixes the problem. Ok, so I jacked it up and felt for play, and there was some in and out play. Meaning I put my hands and 3 and 9 and alternated pulling with one and pushing with the other. I could see the play was making the whole axle/cv joint move, however I don't know if there was wheel bearing play that the axle, cv would move anyway. The boot was intact on the cv joint, and while feeling the boot for tears I felt from up above and empty tube just hanging there. I have no leaks I know of but the ac doesn't work so maybe an ac tube? And maybe that's what's making the noise? As far as the shakey tire there was definitely play but only the play I described. The control arm replacement fixed the forward back play that used to be on there. Is there anything else I should be looking for to narrow down bearing vs cv? I tried spinning the tire but it spins for 8 inches ir so and then stops, and I didn't want to put force on the parking brake, so I don't know if there's play in terms of spinning the tire when its supposed to be still. And a quick unrelated question- I checked the driver side just for the hell of it and I thought I felt the SLIGHTEST in and out play like the other tire but much less, and as I felt back behind the tire I noticed a torn boot with grease everywhere. Not the cv joint, but RITE behind the tire. Is that the ball joint? And isn't that dangerous to drive on if the boot is torn?

Tiny
Graylaw84
Jul 22, 2011.
An alignment won't fix that problem. It might be required DUE to replacing a part that does fix the problem. The second shop is the plan if the first one gives up. Up to now, they might have just replaced worn parts they found during a previous inspection. Once that is done and the problem is still there, that's when they start to dig a little deeper and look for less common things. Normally I would expect them to observe the symptoms on a test drive and know they haven't solved the problem but maybe the symptoms didn't show up on their test drive. Give them a second chance to look deeper. If they can't identify the cause, then look for a tire and alignment specialist and have the car inspected there.

Caradiodoc
Jul 23, 2011.
Ok. The first shop has had it more than once. First it was control arm, replaced that, still there, then it was motor mount and tie rods, replaced those and I thought it went away for a day or two but maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention. The drove it again and he couldn't figure it out and talked about having his "specialist" look at it or something.I was just looking for input because I can't keep paying him to fix things and have the problem still there. We already spent more than we can afford, if this isn't fixed the next time we pay for it to be I don't know what were gonna don. Anyway thanks again

Tiny
Graylaw84
Jul 23, 2011.
Please do not do business with this spammer. People come to this site for help with car problems, not to go clothes shopping. Apparently this idiot doesn't know how to reach his target audience. A lot of people are getting pretty angry. Quite the unusual way to attract loyal customers.

Caradiodoc
Jul 23, 2011.
Not attracting me, that's for sure.

Tiny
Graylaw84
Jul 23, 2011.
Ok, so I jacked it up and felt for play, and there was some in and out play. Meaning I put my hands and 3 and 9 and alternated pulling with one and pushing with the other. I could see the play was making the whole axle/cv joint move, however I don't know if there was wheel bearing play that the axle, cv would move anyway. The boot was intact on the cv joint, and while feeling the boot for tears I felt from up above and empty tube just hanging there. I have no leaks I know of but the ac doesn't work so maybe an ac tube? And maybe that's what's making the noise? As far as the shakey tire there was definately play but only the play I described. The control arm replacement fixed the forward back play that used to be on there. Is there anything else I should be looking for to narrow down bearing vs cv? I tried spinning the tire but it spins for 8 inches ir so and then stops, and I didn't want to put force on the parking brake, so I don't know if there's play in terms of spinning the tire when its supposed to be still. And a quick unrelated question- I checked the driver side just for the hell of it andi thought I felt the SLIGHTEST in and out play like the other tire but much less, and as I felt back behind the tire I noticed a torn boot with grease everywhere. Not the cv joint, but RITE behind the tire. Is that the ball joint? And isn't that dangerous to drive on if the boot is torn?

Tiny
Graylaw84
Jul 23, 2011.
Nevermind I see there's an inner and outer cv joint and on the drivers side the outer joint boot is ripped and leaking grease. But for right now I'm more concerned about the shakey passenger side tire. There was definately play like I said, and without being underneath I could see the movement was rooted at the axle and inner cv joint, but I don't know if that move anyway with the play. I was under the impression the mechanic replaced the control arm (which I can see he did) and the tierods, which I haven't seen. So I guess ill have to see him tomorrow and see why this tire still has play. As far as the noise I'm still stumped. Would bad plug wires/misfire cause that kind of noise? Or maybe the loose tube I felt above the inner cv is rattleing down there somehow when accelerating? I don't know but hopefully if the play in the tire is fixed the noise will just stop.

Tiny
Graylaw84
Jul 23, 2011.
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