flapping noise near tire

Any ideas what this is? My 99 Dakota has been making a noise at the front left tire....I can only describe it as a "flapping" noise (at least thats the sound when I'm going fast enough, like over 30 mph),
and the speed of the flapping is 100% correlated with the speed of the truck. By flapping, I mean--really like a huge bird's wings near the tire. At lower speeds, hard to describe, but i don't fell much vibration at any speed. Also, it's only noticeable when the windows are down, so it's not THAT loud. At first i thought there was a nail stuck in the tire.....but never saw one....and no air loss from the tire. Then i thought...maybe tire balancing? But i don't know if its the tire, ball joints, etc.. (i should stop speculating here...i really no nothing about ball joints, etc.). It's been going on a few months, but seems to be louder now.
I don't know where to bring the truck. I don't think bringing it to a "tire place" would be a good idea, since they'll be biased towards finding a "tire problem". I've been using a dodge dealer for most repairs, but for something like this, no (they'd charge around $40 for a "test drive". Also, whoever test drives it will have to actually sit in the driver seat...i don't think it's audible from the passenger seat. Thanks for nay feedback.
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Sounds like the tire is cupping. Or perhaps a belt shift. Take it to a tire store and have them spin it. If it has been going on for a couple of months it should be a fairly obvious.
Roy
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Roy wrote:

Thanks; I went to NTB (tire/battery place) and the guy at the counter (who may or may not know anything) ran his hand across all my tires and said the 2 front ones are cupped and said its definitely causing the noise. I suggested I should rotate the tires (since It's been more than 12k miles by now) and he said don't bother....it won't help. Sounds like he's right about cupping, but not sure if i should rotate.
He also pointed out that ONE of my tires (rear) has some cracks (that he called "separating") just about where the "white wall" is. He said it wouldn't pass inspection (which is due soon).
The tread on all the tires is OK, but I'm wondering if I'm due for 4 new tires ?? They at 33000 miles, but are 5 year old. (Is age relevant, or just miles)? He suggested, of course, that i get all new tires, but he's a salesman too, so ...not sure.
.
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Not to be nosy but, how often do you check your inflation pressure? Both cupping and sidewall cracking can be caused by running underinflated or overloaded which can both put stress on the sidewall. Another cause of sidewall cracking is overuse of harsh cleaning products which remove the chemical protection that a tire has. These bloom to the surface to protect it from ozone and oxidation. Some cleaners will also cause the polymers in the sidewall to dry and become brittle. The separation is usually where the sidewall compound and the veneer overlay compound meet.
The age alone can be an issue if the tires are sitting for 5+ years but with light useage it is not normally a problem. The government and some tire companies are considering "use-by" dates and/or not being able to retail sell a tire pase a certain age.
To be safe, I would replace the tires and keep them properly inflated and watch the load ratings I use.
Gary B.

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Gee, you're really being nosy!! (joke). I've always been very careful with tire pressure....usually keep it just a few psi's above the rating....almost never UNDERinflated. I also use car-washes about once a month. Maybe I"ll show the tires to a few more tire places and see what they recommend...i always like to get many opinions. thanks.
Gary B wrote:

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If my shocks/suspension is causing tire cupping, how do i get shocks/suspension examined? I usually use a dodge dealer, so I guess I'd go there....what do they do? I supposed I should also get my alignment checked. Or do tire places do those tests/repairs?
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At the risk of pissing off some of the folks here DO NOT go to the dealer. Imho go to a tire place that sells tires and does not do front end repairs and see what they offer. Or perhaps a decent garage in your area, ask around. The shocks you can do yourself but do them before you get it aligned.
Roy
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Roy wrote:

Why a place that "does NOT do front end repairs " ??
Shocks before alignment...OK. And before alignment TESTING? If I end up getting new tires, does it matter if its done before or after shocks, alignment testing, and alignment?
p.s. I don't do ANY repairs on my truck...i'm totally unmechanical.
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A tire place will sell you the tires and explain what is up with your front end, if anything. They may be more inclined to give you factual info where they derive no profit from selling and installing front end parts.

If you are going to spread this out take care of the front end first, alignment last.

Don't tell the people that are repairing your car that. Go to the library and do a little reading to bolster your knowledge.
Roy

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repairs - they'll just sell you tires. Better a front end shop that doesn't sell tires.
You definitely want the suspension checked for looseness, shock function, and alignment, as well as having the wheels ballanced properly after the new tires are installed.
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On 7 Nov 2005 15:54:32 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

a new set. It appears you do not put a lot of miles on, so don't waste your money on high mileage rated tires that you will never wear out before they rot out.
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You can eliminate the tire by switching the fronts. If the noise moves with the tire you found it.
Al
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