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brumar59 03-20-2013 07:42 AM

Excess Front-end Vibration
I have read through several posts related to front-end vibrations but didn't come across anything that matches my problem, at least not the way I would describe it.

Car: 2006 Ford Focus ZX4 Standard Transmission ~104k miles, sway bar links recently replaced

In-a-nutshell description: front passenger side vibration with my tire/wheel bearing/axle/cv joint that increases with driving speed and if I turn my wheel to the right more.

Long Description: It's a vibration that has been going on for a while now and I think it's slowly getting worse. It's not rpm (engine speed) dependent, solely driving speed dependent and I know this because I was out on the highway when no one was around and turned my car off (don't try this at home, folks!) to rule out the engine speed as a factor. The noise was unchanged and still present. If I am driving straight, I hear it a little, it disappears for the most part if I turn my steering wheel left but gets louder if I turn the wheel to the right. Again this is coming from the front passenger side.

Troubleshooting done thus far: I'm thinking it's either the wheel bearing, the axle is bent, a CV joint is failing, or the carrier bearing on the axle is failing. At first I assumed it was most likely a wheel bearing. My father-in-law, a mechanic, says it sounds like a wheel bearing based on my description. I jacked both front wheels separately and spun them by hand and also did the push/pull routine at 12 and 6 o'clock and 3 and 9 o'clock and both tires were solid. I also saw a youtube video that says if you put your hand on the suspension spring and spin the tire, you would feel the any wheel bearing vibration through it if it were bad. Both front tires are solid and didn't really feel anything that jumped out at me (checking both sides for comparison). Since my car as a standard differential, I also put my car in gear with one side jacked, then the other, so I can try hearing any noise at a higher spin-speed with the tires, again, sounded silent. I started looking closer at the right side when it was jacked and wheel spinning while in 1st gear. Since the wheel bearings seem ok, I looked at the axle and the CV joints thinking maybe there was a boot tear I didn't see before but everything looked ok. I did notice that the outboard halfshaft didn't appear to be spinning true, it had a slight wobble to it. On occasions when I got on the highway on-ramp from work and I accelerated into the sharp left turn, I would hear slight clicking from the front passenger side, a tell-tale sign of a failing CV joint.

The Problem: Based on the CV joint clicking I've heard on occasions, the lack of evidence of failing wheel bearings, and the wobble I visually noticed on the passenger side axle, I am inclined to believe that the axle just simply needs replaced (~$65, no sweat).

I"m not mechanic, just an avid DIY'er so any comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome to help me pin-point this before spending money on parts.

bile0026 03-20-2013 09:07 AM

I would start with what you know. If you are seeing a wobble in the axle that's probably at least part of the problem. What kind of noise are you getting (I didn't see a description of the noise just that there was one)? It could also be the carrier bearing if you are getting a bearing noise. I had a bad one just after I bought by '09 and I would have sworn it was the wheel bearing from the sound I was getting but everything was tight. It had the same change in noise when turning as well. If you are getting a bearing noise the carrier bearing is probably to blame if all the other bearings are tight.

brumar59 03-20-2013 09:13 AM

Sorry, I meant to put the noise description in there. It kind of reminds me of a small prop engine airplane noise . It just sounds like a rotational vibration type noise that gets louder when I turn my steering wheel to the right. I guess it's kind of like a fast rumbling noise that changes with the driving speed and with where I turn my steering wheel. I wonder if audio files can be posted in these forums...?

bile0026 03-20-2013 09:20 AM

You could post it and embed it as a youtube video. From the description though it does sound like a bearing noise. In that case I would do the bearing first as it could be causing the wobble in the axle. IIRC the passenger side axle comes with the carrier bearing so I think you would buy it as one unit but I can't remember for sure.

brumar59 03-20-2013 09:32 AM

I will definitely post a video then. the passenger able does have a carrier bearing on it.

bile0026 03-20-2013 09:34 AM

Sounds good!

Steve O 03-22-2013 03:25 PM

Sounds like a wheel bearing. Jack it up, pull the cv out and spin it.

brumar59 03-22-2013 03:51 PM

I tried to get an audio clip of the exact noise but there's a lot of interior vibration because of my problem, so it's not very clear.

Steve O, when you say pull the CV out, do you mean disconnect the axle from the wheel hub and spin the hub? Or something else? Just want to be clear on your suggestion. Thanks.

As I have mentioned, I noticed the axle doesn't appear to spin true, it has a slight wobble on the half-shaft just before the boot at the back of the wheel hub and the wheel feels solid as far as the wheel bearings go, but ya never know. If it's any part of the axle causing this (CV joint, bent axle, carrier bearing, etc) I'll just replace the whole axle at a cost of about $65, no biggie. But if it's the wheel bearing, I haven't noticed it to be bad in any way I can detect. The main reason I suspect it's the axle is because of the wobble I have seen and the CV joint clicking I have heard on occasions. I've been trying to whip around left turns to try and make the sound come back just to confirm, but haven't been able to yet.

Additional suggestions are very welcome! Thanks guys.

Steve O 03-22-2013 05:35 PM

Yes, pull the outer cv out and spin it(, unless you can get it up on a lift in gear). If you leave the tire on the mass will help it spin. If you had an axle not spinning true you can almost bet it took the bearing with it.

sailor 03-24-2013 04:32 PM

For Extra "looks" & responses, I'm going to move this over to "Wheels, Tires, Brakes & Suspension for you !

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