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Last September I put new tires on my '87 in preparation for a roadtrip. I noticed a lot of road noise, like a howling that changed pitch/loudness based on my speed. I thought it was the tires, in fact I was sure of it. The noise was so loud (drowning out my exhaust and stereo at 50+mph) I replaced the almost-new tires today with a different brand. To my shock, nothing changed. The road noise is still there in force.

So it's not the tires. The only other thing it could be is a wheel bearing right? I tugged hard on the top of all four tires today and only found a little bit of play in the front right corner, with slightly more play (but still very little, and I was pulling hard) on the front left. Rears were solid. Could a wheel bearing be somehow collapsed yet not have much side play? The car passed two autox tech inspections this way.

I did a search on wheel bearing replacement too. Some say bad bearings will destroy a hub! That's not right. I've been driving with this noise for a couple thousand miles -- since September. If (a) bearing(s) is/are the culprit is it a sure thing my hub(s) is/are gone by this point?

Would it be easier to replace that way? Say if I ordered new front hubs and bearings, had them assembled, and R&R'd the assemblies on my car at home? Can I do that without messing up the alignment?

Seems like I am constantly spending several hundred dollars on this car. :( Had to spring for a new alternator/voltage regulator what seems like yesterday. It just doesn't end.
 

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have u tried spinning the wheel with your hands??
on my friend mx-3, he was complaining about a road noise, we checked for suspension play, nothing looks wrong, but when we tried spinning the wheels.. it makes a noise
 

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Does it get worst when you turn left or right.

TM
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Good thinking on spinning the wheels by hand. I tried that on the front end, one side makes a bit of noise, the other side is silent. The side making noise has the brake pads sticking to the rotor a bit so that may be a good part of the noise, but there seems to be a faint sound that's deeper than brake friction.

TM, the noise doesn't change when I'm turning, at least at low speed (<20mph) where there's no real noise anyway.
 

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Do you hear a "clunk" when starting from a stop? Have you ever heard one? If so, there's a good chance that some of the sound may be the sound of a bearing at the end of its life. When my left rear bearing went, it started out with a clunk. I finally insisted on a serious look from the shop I was taking it to at the time when it started "grinding" once the car started moving...


(I got paranoid when the right rear started clunking like the left, and that was replaced ~30,000 miles after the left one. I may have the front wheels looked at soon, given 180,xxx miles on the car now...)
 

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Last September I put new tires on my '87 in preparation for a roadtrip. I noticed a lot of road noise, like a howling that changed pitch/loudness based on my speed.
If the noise appeared after you installed tires I would imagine it is the tires...what tires/size did you have the car before, after, and now?

I replaced a set of 185/60R14s with 195/50R15s when I got my new wheels. Old tires were Cooper Cobras. New tires are Fuzions ZRis. The amount of noise increase from the old to new tires has been more than substantial. So much so that I can't hear my 8" subwoofer.

If your wheel bearing is going try driving the car a short distance and then placing your hand on the hub. If you are getting metal to metal contact you will feel the heat build up.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
That's the thing though, it's not the tires. I put new 205/50/15 Kumho SPTs on the car in early September, when the noise started. Yesterday I replaced them with new 195/50/15 Hankook Ventus RS2s and the noise is the same.

Fuzion ZRis shouldn't be real loud either. I drove an S2000 for a few days with those tires on and they were silent. Or, rather, the HKS exhaust drowned them out. :p

Now that I think about it I might know why the wheel bearing failed, if in fact that's the case. In this thread when I first got the SPTs I explain how one of them was rubbing the spring perch. I took an ~800 mile trip the day after getting the tires on, and I suppose light rubbing until the tires wore down could have caused extra stress on the bearing. That's the same corner I hear noise from when turning the wheel by hand.

I think I will jack up the rear end and check those tomorrow.


Grey89, I hear a clunk sometimes but not when I'm pulling away from a stop -- only when going over certain bumps.
 

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take off the rotor and you can feel the drag better that way

i've got my old hub off and it definately is fubar'd

drove it with the hub making sounds like that for 20,000 plus miles thinking it was the rotor out of balance...nope!
 

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What I was trying to say is that I think it might be a function of the tires and wheel sizing regardless of tire brand. AW11s aren't real quiet cars to start with.

I wouldn't go taking anything apart or buying new bearings until you are sure. That would be my main point here. I see a lot of people say "I think this the problem" and then everyone jumps on board. You have to weigh the possibilities.

Side note: if you read through the reviews on Tire Rack you'll see that the ZRis are known for being loud.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Would seem to be a pretty infrequent 'maintenence' item to me. My bearings outlasted my original engine and transaxle. ;)


So I did the turn-by-hand test on the back of the car today. Both rear wheels have more restistance than the fronts, I think because the brakes are dragging but maybe also because of the halfshaft/tranny parts?

Passenger side rear wheel makes some noise if I spin it fast and when I spin it more slowly it feels a little bumpy. But there is no lateral play at this corner. Also the little brass cap with the 'star' edge that is held on by a bent pin is loose on this wheel. Can't seem to get it on all the way.

So it looks like both right side bearings are bad.
 
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