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Old 02-22-2016, 10:17 PM   #1
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'02 SVT Focus - very loud road noise

Hi everyone,

After owning a ZX5 and a ZTW, I've finally made the jump and bought a 2002 SVT Focus.

It has a very loud noise that seems to increase proportionally with road speed.

The previous owner suspects a CV joint or motor mounts, but I'm having a hard time distinguishing between the two. The noise reminds me of when my timing belt side mount went on my '03 Wagon, but it's very VERY loud, and the mount seems like it's still in good shape - with the cap popped off it's firm and doesn't seem obviously broken, although there does seem to be more noise/vibration at idle than there should be, and on occasion on startup or shutdown I can hear a metal on metal rattle that sounds like it might be a bad engine mount.

The previous owner had owned it since new, and it doesn't look like the mounts or either CV shaft have been replaced - the halfshafts are clearly marked "GKN" on the boot and shaft itself (GKN was Ford's OEM I believe) and none of the boots have any tears.

There's no play to speak of in either of the front wheels (in/out, side to side, or up and down) and they rotate very smoothly which makes a bad wheel bearing unlikely in my mind. The OEM SVT wheels did have a couple of small bends in the lips so I swapped them out with some known good 16" wheels/tires from my wagon which quieted the noise down a little bit, but it's still very loud.

The support bearing for the longer shaft seems to turn smoothly and after a drive it doesn't seem abnormally warm. I've had support bearings go on other cars and they very obviously had a lot of play to them.
I checked the fluid in the trans (clutch was done 25,000km ago) and it's still nice and clean looking and was full right to the fill hole. Neither axle seal is leaking, so I don't suspect a noisy differential.

Swerving left or right at speed makes the noise change in tone somewhat, but nothing makes it go away, and accelerating/decelerating doesn't seem to make much if any of a difference. It's very much road speed related, and engine RPM or gear doesn't change it.

The only thing I can see is that the inner CV joint on the longer shaft does have a little bit of play (see youtube video below) - I'm not sure if that's normal on the OEM shaft, or if that play would be enough to cause the noise. A few other known good CV shafts I had in my garage for other cars had zero rotational play. The movement and clicking you hear is coming from the joint - I'm holding one side of the shaft steady while turning the other.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vk2hJOETpgQ

Any ideas before I just start buying a ton of parts and throwing it at the problem?
YouTube clip of the road noise in action. I get up to about 80km/hr in the vid, and the noise increases fairly linearly with the road speed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1eMcLv_94Y


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Old 02-22-2016, 10:49 PM   #2
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Undo the clamp on the support bearing and you might get a better feel for it. I don't think it's supposed to have any play in it. It very well could be shot even if it isn't the source of your noise.
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Old 02-22-2016, 11:29 PM   #3
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Tough one, couldn't hear well in the video.

You mentioned tire change there, was it a wheel & tire swap from another car?
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Old 02-23-2016, 06:11 PM   #4
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I swapped the stock SVT wheels/tires with a known good set of 16" wheels/tires that were dead quiet on my Wagon just to eliminate tire noise as a variable. It definitely isn't tire noise or an out of balance wheel/tire.
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Old 02-23-2016, 06:48 PM   #5
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Wheel bearings?
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Old 02-23-2016, 07:43 PM   #6
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Sounds like wheel bearings to me too. Good place to start at least. Ordered new ones today.

Same exact sound I have on my SVT at the moment.


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Old 02-23-2016, 07:57 PM   #7
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We'll see how it shakes out once all the parts come. As I mentioned in my first post, I've jacked the car up and checked all 4 wheels and there's zero play that can be felt in any of the bearings and they all rotate very smoothly.

I just got back from a jaunt on the highway and coasted into my driveway and quickly took out my IR temperature gun and popped the center caps off the wheels to check the temperature at the axle nut, which is usually a pretty good way of diagnosing a bad bearing (generally the bad one will be significantly hotter from all the friction)

They were all nice and cold, so I'm not thinking that's the issue (although I do have a complete set of 4 wheel bearings in a box that I'd ordered for my Wagon previously thinking it had bad wheel bearings when it ended up being an engine mount)

I quickly jacked the car up and felt all of the CV joints (inner and outer) and none of them felt hotter than they should either - the short axle was cold on both inner and outer, and the long axle with the support bearing was warm, but not warmer than it really should be given the proximity to the cat/exhaust.

Hopefully my new mounts arrive by the weekend - that'll be the first place I start and we'll see how it goes after that. If that doesn't fix it, then both axles will come out and I'll do a closer inspection of the wheel bearings.
I'll keep posting as troubleshooting happens; at the very least it might help others diagnose similar noises in the future. :)

Thanks everyone for your input and ideas!
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Old 02-23-2016, 08:40 PM   #8
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I'm taking the easier and cheaper way first and replacing the wheel bearings.
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Old 03-06-2016, 04:02 PM   #9
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Thanks to everyone who helped! Turns out there were two issues.

I checked the motor mounts first as those were the easiest to deal with. The timing belt side one had failed and lost all its fluid, as is expected with the vehicle's high mileage. Replacing that one got me halfway there and cured the rhythmic hammering/pounding noise at speed along with the vibrations at idle.

I removed the upper trans mount, but the OEM Ford one was still perfect so didn't replace it with the aftermarket one I had on hand.

After the new mount, there was still a reasonably loud humming noise which was very clearly a bad wheel bearing. Swapped the front left wheel bearing now and all is well and the Focus is quiet as can be again.

I'll leave the video up - hopefully it helps future people diagnose similar issues.
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Old 03-10-2016, 02:48 PM   #10
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I had the same problem ended up replacing my entire hub assembly on both sides of the front to make it stop
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