Stop Whining! A case study of front-end bearing noise. - Mazda 6 Forums : Mazda 6 Forum / Mazda Atenza Forum
View Poll Results: What is causing front end high-pitched whine?
Constant-velocity (CV) Joint 1 20.00%
Wheel Bearing 0 0%
Tires 1 20.00%
Passenger "Half-shaft" Carrier Bearing 2 40.00%
Transmission Bearing 1 20.00%
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-04-2018, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
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Stop Whining! A case study of front-end bearing noise.

So for something new, I have decided to try and crowdsource my next diagnostic adventure. In the never ending quest to keep my old mk.1 wagon, not just alive but thriving, I have a new challenge.


Chief Complaint (CC): A high pitched sound coming from the front end that I can hear on the highway when driving on a section of 1st word tarmac. It sounds like a bearing.


Subjective (S): when driving at speeds higher than 55mph on a section of smooth new road there is a very faint whine coming from the front end. The sound is significantly louder if I drive faster 70-80mph.
The sound intensity increases if I accelerate and immediately reduces (does not completely go away) when lifting throttle. There is no change in sound intensity between "off-throttle" and "neutral" when at speed. It should be noted that the car will also slightly pull to the right when accelerating (5th gear) and then pull to the left when coasting.
If I manually shift to 4th gear the sound will be louder (no change in pitch) when accelerating than it was in 5th gear (at the same speed). The pulling effect seems unchanged.


I have not noticed any shaking or vibration connected with the sound.


There is no change with engine RPM, only road speed.


I also have been noticing a sharp (rarely) metal-to-metal type sound when driving over a sharp road obstacle (pothole, curb cut) with the wheel turned (even slightly). This happens infrequently, (once randomly during every other drive or so) but enough to make me consider it nearly every drive


A newer symptom (noted last week) was a "catching" or "tactile clunking" in the drive line when turning to lock to the left when the right (passenger) front wheel is loaded/compressed (as on an incline like a curb cut slope when turning around in the road)



I can feel slight play in my steering column splines (need new lube) but that is unrelated IMO as I can identify a distinct difference in feel and sound.


Past Medical History (PMH): (All procedures conducted within last 10,000mi)
Front Suspension
Replaced control arms (6 total) including bushings and ball-joints
Replaced sway bar bushings and end-links
Replaced springs and strut tops
Replaced inner and outer tie-rod ends


Drive-train
Trans fluid was drained and refilled 3x at 125,000mi. Drain and refill 1x every 30,000mi since
Motor and transmission mounts replaced with OEM
Both drive belt and water pump belt and associated idler/tension bearings replaced
New tires all around
Recent alignment



Objective (O):
Checked torque on all suspension mounting points, sub-frame, steering rack, and wheel attachments, all within normal limits (WNL)
Transmission:
Appearance WNL, no leaks, no damage detected on external casing
Trans fluid (warm) WNL and red , smell WNL,
Passenger outer CV boot split (only noticed when separating each boot billow) no grease slinging detected.
No hand play noted in CV outer shaft detected (passenger and driver)
Passenger Inner "half-shaft" play not checked.

Steering:
Wheel play (vertical with hands at 12 and 6 o'clock), none-detected (weighted and un-weighted)
Steering rack inner play detected when pivoting the front wheels (hands at 3 and 9 o'clock) quickly (Left & right) by hand with engine off. [ Youtube link with sound: https://youtu.be/YuiUV67TLTo]

Slight rotational play noted in telescoping splines of steering column with rotation.


Assessment (A):

[Please insert comments here or see poll]

Plan (P):

[Please insert comments here]







Okay, if you made it to the bottom I sincerely thank you. This (presented in a manner that is easy for me) is what I know/can remember to this point.
I have a plan on what I will likely do next but I will leave that out for know as I hope to glean some of the communities unbiased wisdom.


I am also adding a poll (multiple choices permitted if you think there is more than one problem) with the most likely culprits (from my opinion) that you all can submit if you like.




TL;DR Recent high-pitched whining sound from vehicle front end that is heard on quiet road at 55+mph and gets louder when accelerating. No change in pitch with varying engine RPM. What do you think it is?


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Last edited by DrFeelGood; 12-05-2018 at 08:53 PM. Reason: added youtube link with sound
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-05-2018, 03:13 PM Thread Starter
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This is a place holder.

The diagnostic conclusion will be listed here when the solution is found and verified.


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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-05-2018, 05:11 PM
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I won't vote yet, I'd like more info before doing so.

1. The fact that acceleration/deceleration affects the direction of the vehicle and since you are hearing a metal to metal sound when going over a bump, I believe you have a bad control arm bushing. Yes, you replaced them 10k miles ago but did you buy OEM or aftermarket? I always had bad experiences with aftermarket rubber parts, I now always buy OEM. MOOG and BECK/ARNLEY control arms didn't last a year on a Sienna I had.
2. Does the wine increase/decrease when you do sharp turns at high speed? This will help determine if the whine is coming from a wheel, transmission or carrier bearing.

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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-05-2018, 09:14 PM Thread Starter
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Front end whine addendum questions 01

Quote:
Originally Posted by jman1200 View Post
I won't vote yet, I'd like more info before doing so.
Great, thanks for even considering it. And also thanks to @bluedevil6 and @michael95350 for casting a vote.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jman1200 View Post
1. The fact that acceleration/deceleration affects the direction of the vehicle and since you are hearing a metal to metal sound when going over a bump, I believe you have a bad control arm bushing. Yes, you replaced them 10k miles ago but did you buy OEM or aftermarket?
I purchased and installed AC Delco Professional and torqued while loaded at ride height. All the tie-rods and sway end-link are MOOG (555 Japan)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jman1200 View Post
2. Does the wine increase/decrease when you do sharp turns at high speed? This will help determine if the whine is coming from a wheel, transmission or carrier bearing.
Excellent question.

Doing sharp turns at 70+ mph tends to alarm other motorists...funny how that is, despite the machine being able to easily comply. I did a few snap lane changes and did not notice any change in pitch. This is fairly challenging because they way the car is set-up I am in the next lane (or more) in a second and that leaves very little time to pick up a change in pitch. My best guess is no change in pitch with turning.

I will try and visit a section of highway late where I can make a big fast lazy ess or two.


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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-06-2018, 10:16 AM
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So, because you described the noise as a whine and not as a wot, wot, wot or rumble, I believe it is your transmission, although I strongly hope it is not.
A whine usually comes from a well lubricated worn bearing, a dry worn bearing such as the wheel and half shaft would will make a different type of noise.
I still believe you have something lose, not related to the whine. I suggest you check your control arms (again) and your engine mounts.
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-06-2018, 10:40 AM
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Stop Whining! A case study of front-end bearing noise.

No problem Doc, I suggest tires because I have a very similar whirring noise at highway speeds in my 6 which had brand new Hercules all season tires on it when I bought it (they are terrible never buy them) I have also heard the same noise in our 04 ram 2500 that has the same brand tires on it just A/Tís instead of all seasonís
jman might be on to something though too, when I replaced my rear shocks I had an odd clicking sound every time I hit the slightest bump long story short I spent weeks trying to figure it out and it was the bottom shock mount it was torqued to spec but for some reason that wasnít enough to squeeze the bushing on the new shock it must have been about a millimeter smaller than the previous one so it was able to twist ever so slightly when the load would change. My point being that your metallic noise could be from something very small so make sure you take your time when examining the suspension.

@jman1200 if he has a worn bearing in his transmission wouldnít he notice an abnormal amount of metal on the magnetic drain plug when he changes the fluid?


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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-06-2018, 11:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluedevil6 View Post
@jman1200 if he has a worn bearing in his transmission wouldnít he notice an abnormal amount of metal on the magnetic drain plug when he changes the fluid?
Not noticeable if it is normal wear. There will always be minor traces of metal in the oil, parts wear over time regardless of how much you take care of them. Only massive failures will leave chunks of metal.
Again, I hope I am wrong.

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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-06-2018, 11:34 AM
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Stop Whining! A case study of front-end bearing noise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jman1200 View Post
Not noticeable if it is normal wear. There will always be minor traces of metal in the oil, parts wear over time regardless of how much you take care of them. Only massive failures will leave chunks of metal.

Again, I hope I am wrong.


That does make sense, @DrFeelGood how many miles are currently on the wagon (my apologies if I missed this in another post)? Also just saw the video thatís A LOT of play are you positive all of that play is in the rack itself? I know you said you have replaced everything but it is possible to get bad parts, Iíve had my fair share of them. The symptoms you describe are consistent with inner tie rod failure.


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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-06-2018, 12:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrFeelGood View Post
Steering:
Wheel play (vertical with hands at 12 and 6 o'clock), none-detected (weighted and un-weighted)
Steering rack inner play detected when pivoting the front wheels (hands at 3 and 9 o'clock) quickly (Left & right) by hand with engine off. [ Youtube link with sound: https://youtu.be/YuiUV67TLTo]

Slight rotational play noted in telescoping splines of steering column with rotation.
I just got a chance to look at this video. This will explain why your vehicle pulls to a side when accelerating so disregard what I said about the control arms.
I strongly believe the component circled in the diagram is worn (inner tie rod). It happened to me many years ago on a Mazda 323 I used to own, I took the suspension apart 3 times looking for the clunking noise and it ended being that.
Not sure if you can get it without buying the whole rack (it was available for mine). That part is covered by the dust cover rubber thingy. There are two, one for each side.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-06-2018, 12:31 PM
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My opinion is the pinion bearings inside the transmission as well as other bearings are just showing their age. My car has a very slight whine that only I notice, same symptoms as yours. It is a function of age and mileage, not much can be done other than R&R. If you can hear the noise over the radio then you have problems ASAP. If it is still very subtle and only you seem to hear it then you have time. I plan on sourcing a used transmission for my car this winter/spring and have it R&R'd and keep it on the shelf until it's needed.


There should be 0 play in the steering as well as 0 noise. I would pull the inner tie rod boots and give them a close look. Same with the rack bushings, see if they are still intact. If the rack itself has any play anywhere then it needs to be changed ASAP. Check the sway bar bushings/end links real close too. Those are the things that usually make all the noises.


In my opinion, these cars have brutal torque steer, especially at WOT and anywhere over 4K RPM in 1st/2nd/3rd. I have to hold on with both hands when I start driving spirited.

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