My car has this loud whining noise coming from the front end.

Tiny
WWJD1414
  • 2004 SATURN ION
  • 203,000 MILES

It gets louder the faster I go. It isn't coming from either side in general. Just sounds like my axle is spinning a thousand miles and hour. I looked at the control arm bushings and the left front is bad but the right front is fine. Could this be causing the whining? I was under the impression worn arm bushings causes a clunk, which I also have. The whining is fairly new and very loud. What do I look for?

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Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 AT 10:52 PM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
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You're right about the clunking bushings. The whine is typical of a noisy wheel bearing and is very common on all car brands. Some people can find which one is noisy by rotating the wheel by hand and feeling the vibration on the strut. I've had the best luck using a stethoscope next to each one while running the vehicle in gear on a hoist.

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Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 AT 11:03 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
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Just to add to this one putting it on jack stands and then put the car in neutral. Then put one hand on the coil spring spin the wheel as fast as you can with the other hand. You will be able to feel the bad bearing. Compare the left side to the right side. It a lot safer then spinning it in gear and listening for the noise.I have always been able to find the bad bearing feeling for the bad bearing.

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Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 AT 1:28 AM
Tiny
WWJD1414
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Thanks, I will give this a shot.

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Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 AT 1:31 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
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Let us know what you find.

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Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 AT 2:25 AM
Tiny
WWJD1414
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I have a bit of a problem thou, I don't have jack stands? A redneck friend of mine down the road does but I don't like asking him for anything cause I am a female and all those boys hate females! Anyway, I think I will take it to the shop I work with sometimes and have them check it. I am just trying to learn things for myself. I will let ya no thou. Thanks again

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Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 AT 1:42 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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Jack stands are for safety in case the vehicle falls off the jack. I'm REAL easy-going, but my students know better than to try to get away without them in the shop. For your purposes, you only need to raise one front wheel at a time off the ground, just enough that you can spin it by hand. Just don't crawl underneath during that time. At most, it will fall an inch or two. You'll need to shift into neutral to spin the wheel.

I find using the stethoscope is fast and accurate, ... If you already have one. That's where you want the vehicle well supported so you can run it in gear and crawl under it. Auto parts stores have stethoscopes for less than ten bucks.

Three of my top students were girls. If you have a bunch of guys who give you a hard time, it's because they're intimidated by your knowledge and ability. Ignore them and do what makes YOU happy. I have total respect for anyone who wants to learn, regardless if it's about autos, electronics, or carpentry.

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Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 AT 6:12 PM
Tiny
WWJD1414
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Well thank you "caradiodoc"! I appreciate a man that respects a woman! I will work on it but I have been busy rebuilding a lawn mower right now. Although, I am pretty sure it is the right front wheel bearing. Blah! I hate Saturns! Don't know why we even own one! I will get to it and let you know soon!

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Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 AT 8:23 PM
Tiny
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Saturntech9 loves Saturns and I have no reason to doubt him. In my opinion small GM front-wheel-drive cars are involved in a lot of fatal low-speed crashes, but that could be because there's more of them on the road too. The Dodge Shadow was a tough little ostrich egg when it came to crashes. Now we have the stupid Neon with styrofoam bumpers, so it's obvious we can't use past experience to determine what new cars are like.

Here's another way you can identify which bearing is noisy but it involves a lot more setup time, and you'll definitely want to have the car safely supported when you crawl under it. This is a copy of a previous reply:

There is a tool you might be able to borrow or rent from an auto parts store that borrows them called the "Chassis Ear". It is a set of six microphones, a switch box, and headphones. You clip the microphones to suspect points, then drive around while listening with the headphones. You can move the microphones around to zero in on the source of the noise. Be aware that many mechanics have never seen or even heard of this tool. Suspension and alignment mechanics use it to find rattles, squeaks, and other noises.

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Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 AT 8:53 PM
Tiny
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Forgot to mention you can find that tool on the MAC or Matco tools web site but I always have a hard time finding it. If you have any of the guys who drive tool trucks around to local shops, they will know what you're talking about. Snapon and Cornwell are two more, but Snapon is always much more expensive.

Once you see what it is or use it, ask your redneck friends if they know what it is and how to use it.

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Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 AT 8:57 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
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Just to add to this one the chassis ear is made by steelman its much cheaper to by one on amazon. You wouldnt even need anything like that find the bad bearing. Also another trick I use when I have a bad front wheel bearing is drive down the road uo to the speed you hear the realy good. Then when it safe turn the wheel a little to the right and left listen for thr noise to get louder. For instance if the noise gets louder turning to the left its most likely a bad right wheel bearing. Also if you go to the right and the noise gets louder its most likely the left wheel bearing.

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Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 AT 9:32 PM
Tiny
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I like the ion my niece has a 2003 the first year they made them and it was her first car she loves it.I dont like it as much as the S model saturns first model saturn ever made. Those are really near and dear to my heart.

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Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 AT 9:40 PM
Tiny
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No, no, no, no, no. Well, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe. Okay, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, sometimes. It depends on the style of wheel bearing, and I'm sure there will be some exceptions, but here's what I've found in general in the past. Changing lanes when you hear the noise is plenty of turning to make a noisy bearing get real quiet or noisy if it is a pressed-in bearing. Those were used on all Chrysler products up through 1986 and some models through 1990. Ford and Honda used them too. When you turned a little to the left, more vehicle weight went onto the right side. If that's when the noise got louder, the right bearing was the cause. Those were easy to diagnose.

Your vehicle uses a more expensive bolt-on assembly. The advantage is no special tools are needed to replace it, it's much faster to replace them, and if you replace the wrong one, you can reinstall the old one on the other side. The disadvantage is the cost. The pressed-in bearings are destroyed by removing them, but there's never a need to remove them except to replace them.

I've been fooled by the bolt-on style one too many times. That's why I use the stethoscope. My first experience with them was on an Intrepid. The noise sounded to everyone like it was coming from the right side, and it did get louder when turning left. The symptoms were exactly the same after replacing the right bearing. It turned out to be the left one was noisy. I just scratched out "right" on my repair order diagnosis and wrote in "left", then put the old bearing on the left side and the noise was gone.

Since then I've noticed that these bolt-on bearings usually do not get quiet when you turn one way. I've never had the chance to try the holding-the-spring trick but my thought is if you could feel the roughness that way, you should also be able to hear it with your ear next to the spinning wheel. I can't hear anything that way, but every time I used the stethoscope, the first bearing was questionable, then the second one was obviously much louder.

I should also mention that regardless which type of bearing is used, they are held together by the cv joint, and the tightness of that axle nut is critical. Some vehicles call for up to 240 foot pounds so you'll want to invest in a click-type torque wrench. If you put any weight at all on those bearings before that nut is tight, it will instantly make the new bearing noisy.

I had a GM front-wheel-drive car to align after our body shop rebuilt it after a crash. They had the engine and transmission out so there wasn't much weight left, then they found out it was going to take a week to get some parts so they pushed it outside without the half shafts installed. That car was so light three people could lift the front end off the ground but that was enough to damage both bearings and make them noisy.

As for finding the Chassis Ear on Amazon, thank you, saturntech9. I never thought to look there. They list the wired version for 70 bucks. I just might order one for myself. The tool truck guys sell them for $199.99. The wireless version is lots cheaper too. I could never justify spending that much to find a noise on my own vehicles. It would get used so seldom so instead, I just wait for a noise to stop, then check to see what part fell off!

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Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 AT 10:14 PM
Tiny
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The ions use a bolt on hub bearing in the front that you can easly put your hand on the coil spring and spin the wheel and feel a bad bearing.I have done it on those cars many times also the saturn vues the L models S models etc.I miss spoke I ment try the turning left and right then verify by feeling the bad bearing in coil spring. Thats what I always do your welcome cardiodoc about the amazon chassis ear.I think the wireless ones are super cool wish they had those years ago when I used to use the wire verizon all the time with the aligator clips.

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Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 AT 10:25 PM

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