Front end noise when over thirty mph

Tiny
HRIANT88
  • MEMBER
  • 2007 DODGE CARAVAN
  • 3.8L
  • 6 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 135,000 MILES
Front end noise came out from the bottom on the passenger seat when the speed is over thirty mph, and gets louder when driving faster. No difference when turning or on neutral. New inner and outer tie rod ends installed with no improvements. Also checked wheel hub bearings on both sides are okay with no plays. Drive axles are seemed okay. I was thinking it could be the final drive bearings.

Is there a way I can check it and tell for sure where the noise comes from? If it is the final drive bearings, do I have to remove the transmission in order to replace the final drive bearings or I can do it with the transmission in place?

Thanks!
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Tuesday, June 5th, 2018 AT 9:03 AM

3 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
First you have to describe what the noise sounds like. Is it a clunk? A rattle? Buzzing or humming noise? Tie rod ends do not cause a noise unless they were ignored for so long that they make an intermittent clunking noise. You will notice the direction of steering changes when you are on verses off the gas when a tie rod end is badly worn.

Wheel bearings cause a humming noise like an airplane engine. With Chrysler's older bearings from the 1980's, you could figure out which one was noisy by turning slightly, as in when changing lanes. With the newer bolt-on style you have, it is impossible to tell by only driving the van. The noise can originate on one side but transfer to the other side where it sounds like it is coming from. The best way to identify the noisy bearing is to run the engine, in gear, on a hoist, and listen next to them with a stethoscope. You can also raise a front tire off the ground, reach over the top of the tire and wrap your fingertips lightly around part of the coil spring, then spin the tire slowly by hand. If the wheel bearing is noisy, you will feel the vibration in the spring. Looseness or play in a wheel bearing is not a valid clue. The noisiest of bearing will not have any play in them. In more than thirty five years as a suspension and alignment specialist, I have only seen one wheel bearing that had play in it, and that one was ignored by the owner for over three years, and he did not believe multiple people telling him the wheel should not be able to move three inches in and out on top!

Bearings in the transmission rarely cause noise or other problems. They rotate too slowly. The best way to listen to them is to use a tool called a "Chassis Ear". That is a set of six microphones, a switch box, and head phones. You clip the microphones to suspect parts, then listen while driving.

The half shafts also rotate too slowly to make noise. When an outer CV joint becomes worn excessively, the marbles inside it will bind in the carefully-machined channels they ride in and cause a clicking sound at real low speeds, mainly when turning sharply and backing up. You will not hear them at speeds higher than you would drive in a parking lot.
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Tuesday, June 5th, 2018 AT 11:00 PM
Tiny
HRIANT88
  • MEMBER
Thanks for the quick reply and detailed information.
The sound is very much humming noise coming underneath the passenger seat toward the center. That is why I was thinking it is differential bearing related. As I checked the wheel hub bearing by shaking the wheel with one hand on the top and the other hand hold the bottom but found no plays on both sides.
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Wednesday, June 6th, 2018 AT 9:32 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Dandy. As I mentioned, that is not a valid test. The noisiest of wheel bearings still will not have any play in them. The noise is caused by tiny ripples in the bearing races. Play in the bearing is prevented by the very high torque value on the axle nut. Do one of the other tests I described and it is a good bet you will find a noisy wheel bearing.
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Wednesday, June 6th, 2018 AT 8:22 PM

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