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'06 Matrix Rhythmic Knocking in Left Front Wheel

959 Views 12 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  DCM
I have what sounds to be a tiny horse galloping in my left front wheel area. The faster I go, the faster and louder it gallops. The pattern and tone of the sound is very similar to a horse galloping across a field (in the distance) and although I can drown it out by turning up the radio, I can also feel it in the floorboard and in the steering wheel. It doesn't seem to be affected by bumps in the road, turning, or applying the brakes (except that doing so makes me go slower and so the sound slows down).

I took it to a mechanic thinking it was a bad bearing but they said they thought it was the CV axles since both were "leaking grease" and so I had them replace both of them. I also had them put on four new tires. The second I drove out of the parking lot, I heard the little horse start galloping away like nothing had changed.

I'm not a rich person and I'm not a DIY guy so I can't risk taking it in for another "bad guess". I'm just looking for some perspective; has anyone else had a similar issue and were successful in fixing it?
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CV joint or a bearing would have been my first guess. A leaking CV axle does not mean you need to replace the axles. Especially Toyota axles. You can get a kit with new boots and grease (if you were a DIY) Unless they have been leaking for a long time and got to the point where they started to get damaged. I am not the mechanic that inspected them so maybe that is what he assumed was the issue. Any mechanic worth his salt would have test driven the vehicle after the replacement to confirm the sound/vibration was fixed. I would not rule out it is still a bearing issue, maybe he got so focused on the axle he overlooked the bearing. Kind of hard to diagnose without being able to get hands and eyes on it. Do you have a floor jack? I would set your parking brake, maybe use wheel chocks if you have any to set on back wheels for safety. Jack up the front end to get the tires just off the ground and set the transmission to Neutral. I would inspect the tire for any damage, looking for any uneven wear such as flat spots or bulges that can be causing the sound and vibration as the tire rolls, also anything stuck in the treads. Then look for any debris in the wheel/break area, I would assume any of that would be gone if the mechanic had all that off. Next, I would place my hands at 9 and 3 o'clock and try rocking the tire to feel for any given, it should be solid, with no movement or sound, then do the same at 12 and 6 o'clock. Again it should be solid. I would then try rotating the wheel by hand to see if you get the sound, any clicking or grinding If you are not sure if something is normal, try doing the same to the other side as control and compare.

Other things I would immediately suspect would be maybe loose lug nuts or lugs, maybe a warped brake rotor. With a warped brake rotor you might get a rhythmic sound maybe as it rotated and rubbed the brake pad but you should feel that right through the brake pedal as you apply the brakes and it would probably also feel stronger in the steering wheel and as you applied brakes the sound would probably go away. Since it correlates to the speed of the wheel turning I would assume it is related to something turning, so Tire, rotor/brake, Bearings and Axle. If there was a bad ball joint or bushing I would not expect a rhythmic vibration/sound. If I still could not figure it out I would maybe just swap my front tires and see if the issue stays on the same side, if so you know it is not the tire, but if it moves to the other side you know it is your tire. If it is a bearing or brake issue, I would be surprised your mechanic would have missed it. I assume he would have inspected for those.

P.S. I highly recommend becoming a DIY on your vehicle as much as possible. You can save a lot of money.
 

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My bet is on the wheel bearing. The races are likely very pitted in one portion, and the balls rolling over that pitting is what makes the galloping sound and feeling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Sounds like a wheel bearing to me. Does the noise lessen or go away when turning or even changing lanes to the left at speed?
That's a good question. I hadn't noticed that it diminished during a turn in either direction but I'll listen more closely now that you've said something. I'll post an update as soon as I get home.
 

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Also if you get up to speed and throw the car in neutral, so there is no power going through the driveline, if it was the CV axle the sound should have definitvely changed. But if it was the bearing the sound should remain relatively constant changing only with speed.
 

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Very good advice above. The mechanic should have ruled out wheel bearing before changing parts, and should have tested after the repair. That being said, it seems that for whatever reason a number of mechanics suffer poor hearing - when driving with them I can hear sounds they can not, and my hearing isn't stellar.
 

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CV joint or a bearing would have been my first guess. A leaking CV axle does not mean you need to replace the axles. Especially Toyota axles. You can get a kit with new boots and grease (if you were a DIY) Unless they have been leaking for a long time and got to the point where they started to get damaged. I am not the mechanic that inspected them so maybe that is what he assumed was the issue. Any mechanic worth his salt would have test driven the vehicle after the replacement to confirm the sound/vibration was fixed. I would not rule out it is still a bearing issue, maybe he got so focused on the axle he overlooked the bearing. Kind of hard to diagnose without being able to get hands and eyes on it. Do you have a floor jack? I would set your parking brake, maybe use wheel chocks if you have any to set on back wheels for safety. Jack up the front end to get the tires just off the ground and set the transmission to Neutral. I would inspect the tire for any damage, looking for any uneven wear such as flat spots or bulges that can be causing the sound and vibration as the tire rolls, also anything stuck in the treads. Then look for any debris in the wheel/break area, I would assume any of that would be gone if the mechanic had all that off. Next, I would place my hands at 9 and 3 o'clock and try rocking the tire to feel for any given, it should be solid, with no movement or sound, then do the same at 12 and 6 o'clock. Again it should be solid. I would then try rotating the wheel by hand to see if you get the sound, any clicking or grinding If you are not sure if something is normal, try doing the same to the other side as control and compare.

Other things I would immediately suspect would be maybe loose lug nuts or lugs, maybe a warped brake rotor. With a warped brake rotor you might get a rhythmic sound maybe as it rotated and rubbed the brake pad but you should feel that right through the brake pedal as you apply the brakes and it would probably also feel stronger in the steering wheel and as you applied brakes the sound would probably go away. Since it correlates to the speed of the wheel turning I would assume it is related to something turning, so Tire, rotor/brake, Bearings and Axle. If there was a bad ball joint or bushing I would not expect a rhythmic vibration/sound. If I still could not figure it out I would maybe just swap my front tires and see if the issue stays on the same side, if so you know it is not the tire, but if it moves to the other side you know it is your tire. If it is a bearing or brake issue, I would be surprised your mechanic would have missed it. I assume he would have inspected for those.

P.S. I highly recommend becoming a DIY on your vehicle as much as possible. You can save a lot of money.
That is some very solid advice!
 

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I worked on cars for 40 years. You are feeling it change when you brake. It's not brakes. The only other 2 things that can be is a seriously bent rim or a broken belt in a tire. Take it back to the shop and they should for free pull the front tires and toss them on the wheel balancer. They will see both. Also A bearing that bad they will see/feel wiggling the tires. PS, got a teenager that drives the car????? Or did you crank a major pothole? Teenager was doing fastandfurious and hit a curb. Sorry Jr or Missie.
 

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I worked on cars for 40 years. You are feeling it change when you brake. It's not brakes. The only other 2 things that can be is a seriously bent rim or a broken belt in a tire. Take it back to the shop and they should for free pull the front tires and toss them on the wheel balancer. They will see both. Also A bearing that bad they will see/feel wiggling the tires. PS, got a teenager that drives the car????? Or did you crank a major pothole? Teenager was doing fastandfurious and hit a curb. Sorry Jr or Missie.
No, he said it doesn’t change when he brakes, aside from the obvious reduction in momentum.
 

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In conjunction with that, there’s an increasingly larger area of fretting or erosion on the raceway(s). quite different from the older tapered bearing and spindle setup, where it was evident which bearing was worn by turning left or right at speed, but the unitized bearings can give the opposite sound indication depending on which race is worn.
 
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