Thanks Docfixit, it was the wheel bearing.
I had taken the car to Pep Boys to get the AC recharged and asked them to look at it, but they couldn't get the wheels of because the wheel lock key was missing (actually it disappeared sometime around the last time Pep Boys had the car). I found that I could get a new drum with hub and bearing at Advance for $10 more than Pep Boys wanted just for the bearing, so when the new key I ordered arrived, I did the replacement myself with a little help from the Haynes manual in about 1 1/2 hours. Pep Boys wanted over $300 to swap out the bearing.
I had not suspected the wheel bearing because it had been replaced just about a year ago. A mechanic friend of my son-in-law did the replacement, but I know he was not aware of the torque requirements and did not properly torque the hub retaining nut. I figure that is why the bearing failed again so soon. When I removed it, the retaining nut was not tightened to anywhere near the 173 ft/lbs specified.
Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 AT 7:28 AM