1998 Ford Taurus car groans as you go faster

Tiny
LEICAMAN
  • MEMBER
  • 1998 FORD TAURUS
Drive Train Axles Bearings problem
1998 Ford Taurus 6 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 130k miles

My wife's '98 Ford Taurus groans as you go faster. In a way it almost sounds like exhaust, but when you put it into neutral while at speed, the noise stays the same. I am thinking we are having a wheel bearing starting to go or we have a failing power steering pump. The fluids look good and the power steering works well. My wife thinks it doesn't glide along the road as well as it used to. It is quiet below 40 mph but it seems to groan at speeds above that. It doesn't matter if you are cornering or going straight. She claims she can feel it through the steering wheel.

The car had a new Ford rebuilt transmission put in at 75,000 miles and we had it flushed at 100k and it is due again.
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Thursday, April 15th, 2010 AT 10:37 PM

5 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Hi leicaman. Welcome to the forum. You made some good observations, especially about the turning. That is often a clue to which side has the noisy bearing when the pressed-in style is used. Most cars use a bolt-on assembly now. They usually don't change sound when turning, plus, it can be almost impossible to tell which side is making the noise. The best way is to run the car in gear on a hoist, then listen by each one with a stethoscope.

Another method is to use a "Chassis Ear". That is a set of microphones and a receiver. You clip the microphones to various suspect points, then switch between them while listening during a test drive.

Caradiodoc
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Thursday, April 15th, 2010 AT 11:36 PM
Tiny
LEICAMAN
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I wanted to know what on earth it is somewhat before I take it to my regular guy to have it fixed.

What made me think at first power steering pump was the sound at idle as the PS pump sometimes is noisier than others. Each time I check it the fluid is at the proper spot. The wheel bearing thing I think is more plausable because at freeway speeds, you hear it. One time we drove to a big city and I heard it but my wife did not. As the car was fully warmed up the sound didn't sound AS bad, but it is still there. I would not be surprised if it is the wheel bearings.

I know that if it is the power steering pump if you put it in neutral while going say 50mph, the noise would go away due to reduction of rpms. It did not. So that is what leads me to believe we've got a wheel bearing going on it.

So what the car needs at the shop I think will be as follows:

1. Replace serpentine belt (I have not replaced it since we bought the car with 71k.
2. Have them inspect the wheel bearings.
3. Have them inspect the power steering pump.
4. Change and flush the transmission as it needs to be done as it is time. I spent $2700 once for a re-manufactured Ford transmission and I don't want to do that again. If that pukes again, the car goes.

My guy is an ASE certified master tech, but I like to help him along as much as possible when I take it in.

My goal with this car is 180k as my wife only puts 10k on a year. I figure by that time we can just junk it. Good car otherwise. AC blows ice cold, transmission shifts properly. Just the din of the groan noise that drive me and the mrs. Nuts.

Any suggestions you can give me are greatly appreciated.

Again thank you for your initial post reply. I will let you all know the outcome.
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Friday, April 16th, 2010 AT 6:35 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
You provided a lot more valuable information and observations than most people. The fact that the noise doesn't change when you put it in neutral and let the engine idle was the clincher. GM has a real lot of trouble with noisy power steering pumps. Ford and Chrysler, ... Not so much. It is somewhat common for some Fords to burp power steering fluid onto the ground when the engine is turned off. That is due to trapped air that hasn't bled out. What misleads most people is the pump will still be quiet. Most power steering systems make a loud buzzing noise when there is air in the system.

All you should have to tell your mechanic are the same symptoms you listed here. He will likely take the car on a test drive as verifying the complaint is the first step in the diagnosis. Once the car is on the hoist for the transmission service, it only takes a few extra minutes to listen with the stethoscope. Your comment about the noise not changing when you turn slightly suggests your car has the bolt-on style bearing assembly. As a former suspension and alignment specialist, I replaced a lot of bearings and in every case, it was impossible to tell on the test drive which one was the noisy one when that style was used. With the stethoscope, one bearing seemed like it could be the culprit, until I listened to the other one. THEN it was obvious which one was bad. The good bearing will rattle a little as the wheel turns because there is no load on it. The bad bearing can usually not be heard with your ear right next to it but you'll know you found it when you hear the difference with the stethoscope.

I should mention too that the wheel can not fall off and the bearing won't cause you to suddenly lose control. It is held together by the cv joint / half shaft. At the very worst, if it becomes sloppy, the brake rotor will shift position relative to the brake pads and cause some abnormal wear, but it will take a real long time for that to occur. I only saw that happen once on a student's Dodge Shadow. He ignored the noise from the bearing for over 80,000 miles until it was wobbling in and out on top, but it still never caused him to lose control. Most people wouldn't be able to stand the noise for that long. By the way, other than a little wear on the brake pads many miles from now, no other parts will be damaged by not replacing the bearing. Just your hearing might be affected once the noise becomes louder.

Caradiodoc
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Friday, April 16th, 2010 AT 10:46 AM
Tiny
LEICAMAN
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That bearing was bad, bad, bad. I saw the old beast. The seal had blown and it was nasty. The tech had to spend some time to extract the old one. All is well again, but there is always something on a car that was made in 1998. Next? Replacing the coolant recovery tank. An easy DIY, I am fairly certain of.
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Saturday, May 1st, 2010 AT 5:17 PM
Tiny
2CARPROS LINSEY
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Thank you for using 2CarPros. Com. We appreciate your donation and look forward to helping you in the future.
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Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 AT 12:13 PM

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