"Grrrr" wheel bearing or engine mount problem??

Hi. I have a 2001 Saturn SL1. 109k miles. 4 brand new tires (last week). For the past 6months, something in front left of car makes a
"grrrrr" noise which only starts to be noticeable when going faster than 30mph, and increases in volume, and pitch, with speed. I don't think it's the engine or transmission, because I was on highway and bumped into neutral and could rev the engine but the grrr sound was still constant and only changes pitch with speed. Also changes pitch momentarily if I hit a dip in the road. Even the 4 new tires I installed make no difference in the grrr. Wheels and stearing wheel doesn't really shake or anything abnormal. I've read about wheel bearings potentially being such a cause. Or maybe, if pitch changes when I hit a dip, could it be an engine mount problem? Any ideas? Thanks Theodore.
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If it were an engine mount problem, the noise would have changed when you shifted into neutral and revved the engine. This is not engine-related.
Wheel bearings are a possible cause, although I'm more inclined to think CV joints -- wheel bearing problems more commonly manifest as a whine, rather than a growl, IME.
It could also be brakes -- if you apply the brakes lightly while keeping enough pressure on the accelerator to maintain a constant speed, what happens to the noise?
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wrote:

+1 to above, but CV joint failure often causes clicking noise especially when turning sharply at slow speed. . IMHE worn wheel bearing noise will vary (usually increase) when subjected to side loading such as turning or changing direction. Often one direction will be louder than the other. A series of (careful) slalom type manoeuvres when on a straight level road (when safe to do so, wide dry road, no traffic) will usually tell the story. In addition, jack up each wheel and inspect for roughness, noise or most likely excessive side play at the top and bottom of the wheel. Could also be rear wheel bearing as it is hard to determine noise source from inside when driving? IMHE bad wheel bearings will make noise for a long time without complete failure but YMMV and failure could cause a serious accident.
Good luck, YMMV
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Hi, ok so I did the slalom thing going 30mph. The "grrrr" from the front fluctuated between "rah" and a "ruh" every time I turned the wheel in the opposite direction. Went back to grrrr immediately thereafter as I continued straight. I'm just hoping for some diagnosis advice and help, as doing the work myself is beyond my capabilities and (having recently moved) I'm not sure who's the most trustworthy mechanic in my new neighborhood. I'd like to go into the shop showing some intelligence. Is the consensus still wheel bearings? All opinions appreciated. Regards, Theodore.
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Wheel bearing. That's conclusive.
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Hi, ok so I did the slalom thing going 30mph. The "grrrr" from the front fluctuated between "rah" and a "ruh" every time I turned the wheel in the opposite direction. Went back to grrrr immediately thereafter as I continued straight. Noise is not affected by applying brakes at all, so pretty sure brakes aren't the cause. I'm just hoping for some diagnosis advice and help, as doing the work myself is beyond my capabilities and (having recently moved) I'm not sure who's the most trustworthy mechanic in my new neighborhood. I'd like to go into the shop showing some intelligence. Is the consensus still wheel bearings? All opinions appreciated. Regards, Theodore.
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wrote in message

Hi, ok so I did the slalom thing going 30mph. The "grrrr" from the front fluctuated between "rah" and a "ruh" every time I turned the wheel in the opposite direction. Went back to grrrr immediately thereafter as I continued straight. Noise is not affected by applying brakes at all, so pretty sure brakes aren't the cause. I'm just hoping for some diagnosis advice and help, as doing the work myself is beyond my capabilities and (having recently moved) I'm not sure who's the most trustworthy mechanic in my new neighborhood. I'd like to go into the shop showing some intelligence. Is the consensus still wheel bearings? All opinions appreciated. Regards, Theodore.
I usually do the slalom thing at a faster speed as IMHE noise at slower speed is often increasingly noticed as the bearing gets worse, YMMV. I strongly suspect one of your front wheel bearings is going bad, but as I said previously,

Noise and roughness can be hard to spot when the brake callipers are still installed, unless the bearing is very worn.
While you have the wheel off the ground, also check for play in the tie rod ends by rocking the wheel in a steering motion (side to side) and (use a crowbar - carefully, do not damage the CV boot) check for play in the ball joints.
When you take the car to a shop for an estimate, demand to witness the mechanic doing these checks. Do not accept any crap about insurance not covering you in the shop, but expect to wear safety glasses and do not touch any tools. This is a straight forward job for which the shop should be able to provide a firm price quote. Make sure they have the correct press tool so they will only be pushing on the new bearing outer race when pressing it into the steering knuckle and also that they will be installing a top quality bearing.
Good luck, YMMV
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millinghill wrote:

It's the wheel bearing. If it's the left front it will become slightly louder when you turn sharply to the right and almost go away when you turn to the left. (vice versa for right front) This is a very common thing for Saturns. You can get it replaced at a wheel shop like Midas or Les Schwab. Make sure they do a 4-wheel alignment after replacing it.
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snip

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WHY? IMHO no alignment is required simply due to wheel bearing failure or replacement.
Good luck, YMMV
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Private wrote:

Replacing the front wheel bearing requires removal of suspension components that must be aligned after they are reinstalled.
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With respect, I am fully qualified and have replaced several Saturn S series wheel bearings. While some suspension disassembly is required in order to remove the steering knuckle/hub assembly, there is no need to disturb the tie rod or lower control arm/sway bar or spring/shock/strut adjustments, and the ball joint and tie rod connections are both tapered connections which IMHO can be reassembled without disturbing alignment. The connection of the hub to the spring strut is a plain bolted connection without any provision for adjustment at the point of disconnection.
IMHO, this job does not require realignment unless its need is indicated by other factors. Realignment would do no harm but advisability probably depends more on the capabilities of the repairer.
This job does require equipment (press & press tooling, maybe welding equipment for old bearing removal) that is usually beyond that of the average DIY mechanic, but if this equipment is available (or can be fabricated) then it is certainly doable by any experienced mechanical person. If the job is done by the average repair shop then they are more likely to also want to replace lower control arm/ball joints, (which may be advisable as economic preventative maintenance depending on the age of the vehicle) and any shop doing any volume of this work is likely to have alignment equipment that they will want to make use of (and charge for).
If the OP is considering a DIY repair I recommend reading my earlier reports of this job.
https://groups.google.com/groups/search?hl=en&as_q=&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&num &scoring=&lr=&as_sitese arch=&as_qdr=&as_mind=1&as_minm=1&as_miny 11&as_maxd=1&as_ma xm=1&as_maxy 11&as_ugroup=rec.au tos.makers.saturn&as_usubject=wheel+bearing&as_uauthors=private&safe=off
job report is here https://groups.google.com/group/rec.autos.makers.sa turn/browse_thread/thread/dbd50d8ba022a28f/c3980cf51a2fabaf?lnk=st&q=group:rec.autos.makers.sa turn+author:private&rnum=6&hl=en#c3980cf51a2fabaf
Just my .02, Good luck, YMMV
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Private wrote:

https://groups.google.com/groups/search?hl=en&as_q=&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&num &scoring=&lr=&as_sitese
turn/browse_thread/thread/dbd50d8ba022a28f/c3980cf51a2fabaf?lnk=st&q=group:rec.autos.makers.sa
Had the same noise on my Vue...It was the front wheel bearings on mine. I know someone said that they whine not growl, but mine sounded like I mounted snow tires, so I'd classify that as a grrr.. :)
BTW, I guess there is a significant difference in changing the Vue than a SL. On the Vue, I can change a wheel bearing in 15-20 minutes, as it's an all in one Hub. You buy the hub with bearings installed, so all you have to do is remove tire, remove caliper and hang up out of way, remove free floating rotor, remove spindle nut, slide off old hub with crappy bearings (well, may need some "friendly persuasion" to loosen up) and reverse to put it back together, using the right torque on the spindle nut....Sound like it's more complicated on the SL....
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snip

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I would normally agree with the above, but there can be exceptions.
I have just completed a left front wheel bearing replacement on an S series car where the noise got louder when turned to the left and quieter when turned to the right. It was a low mileage hub assembly and showed no slop or looseness. The final diagnosis of which wheel was making the noise was done by motoring the axle with the wheels and brake pads removed and listening to the hub with a diaphragm & probe type mechanics stethoscope. After the hub was removed there was no looseness or roughness when turned by hand but some rough sounds could be heard with the stethoscope. It was very noisy on the car when at highway speed.
Since I also replaced both tie rod ends, I also had a friend with an alignment machine set the toe in properly and to check the other settings. I used an old set of tires for the short drive to the alignment shop so as not to wear my good tires. The bearings were quiet and car steered fine but I do feel better for having also checked the alignment as the tie rod setting was close but probably not really correct.
Good luck, YMMV
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