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Official PITA
Solara 'Vert & ES350
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is an '05 Solara V6 with 85k on odometer. I have a metal-to-metal noise from driver-side suspension (?) when I hit bump, hole, etc., but, hear it only at low speeds. Two mechanics have looked at it, neither one has been able noise; tie-rods, ball joints, motor & transmission mounts, etc., all look good / tight.

The really odd part is that the noise will NOT happen immediately if car has been sitting overnight, only shows up after I've driven 2-3 miles, which makes no sense to me. It's as-if something has to heat up first for the noise to appear.

Yesterday, on freeway at 65, left lane, on a long right-hand curve, heard the left front whine (noise bounced-off concrete barrier)
Coming out of the curve, that noise disappeared.
With right hand curve, weight is transferred to left front, going straight, no noise, that's consistent with left front wheel bearing going out.

Question: Is it possible that the "clunk", and the wheel bearing noise are related? I can't see it, but there are more experienced people here. Thoughts ??




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I'd say it's entirely possible. From your description of the whine (I always say drone, and when I had it on my Solara it was the same wheel, but would diminish greatly on cornering even slightly, and return upon straightening the steering wheel) is almost surely a wheel bearing.

If you can lift the front end off the ground and grab the wheel, if you can wiggle it you have a confirmed diagnosis.

Those who do the repair should have a look around while everything's apart to see if anything else might be the likely source of the clunking.
 

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Solara 'Vert & ES350
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Discussion Starter #3
?? Noise diminished on a curve, and came back going straight ??
 

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Yup. Loud steady drone when driving straight ahead and if you had to turn slightly it diminished. It all depends on exactly how the thing fails.
 

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My brother 2010 highlander had noise like broken flex pipe or muffler only heard when is driving at 25mph or higher, steady humming, acceleration or deceleration no change in noise, no wheel play at all. After swapping the wheel bearing, the noise went away immediately
 

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I definitely had pronounced changes based upon speed as well.

But, as @bronzemaxell's example points out again, the exact way the bearing race (and/or hub) are failing has a direct impact over the precise symptoms exhibited. Much like human illnesses, the certain same root cause(s) can exhibit a wide range of symptoms.

There's an art to being a car diagnostician just like being a medical diagnostician - but the former is becoming a rarer and rarer skill now that many shops use the "get the code and throw parts at it" method of fixing things until something sticks. There are lots of spurious OBD codes that occur because something upstream of the indicated part is actually failing in some way. Just like we suffocate from lack of oxygen; it's not our bodies that are the problem, but the lack of oxygen. If you don't get what you need coming in, you often don't get what you should coming out. My own personal experiences with this:

1. Jaguar was notorious for putting the transmission into limp mode if the car battery was becoming weak. Still strong enough to start the car but with enough of a transient power drop immediately afterward to make the sensors believe something was wrong that had not occurred. I had a 1999 XJ8L on which this occurred.

2. My 1996 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon was throwing a P0420 code, which if taken at face value suggests the catalytic converter had gone bad. It was not throwing any codes for the O2 sensors. The upstream sensor had been replaced several years ago, but the downstream had not. Replacing the downstream O2 sensor resolved the P0420 code, as it had gone "bad enough" to be supplying spurious data to the ECU but "not bad enough" to trigger the failure code for the sensor.
 

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If you can drive it with the drive wheels safely off the ground. You can usually feel the bad bearing in the coil spring on the failed side if not hear with a stethescope
 

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the last bad wheel bearing that I've encountered, it only make humming broken flex pipe noise when it is moving 25 mph, no shaking.
I jacked up the vehicle safely, check the wheel for play, none, spin as fast as i can with wheel on, no noise, took off wheel and rotor, just spin the hub, no noise.
strangest bad wheel bearing symptom I've seen, but just happen to mine. it only make noise under vehicle load.
 

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the last bad wheel bearing that I've encountered, it only make humming broken flex pipe noise when it is moving 25 mph, no shaking.
I jacked up the vehicle safely, check the wheel for play, none, spin as fast as i can with wheel on, no noise, took off wheel and rotor, just spin the hub, no noise.
strangest bad wheel bearing symptom I've seen, but just happen to mine. it only make noise under vehicle load.
Agreed they can be deceiving , had an odd one on a challenger. Only nosey between 40-50 , dart also. all depends on design , bearing play is not as common as it used to be
 

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My guess is that clunk and wheel bearing noise are unrelated. Most clunks are from worn rubber components. Grab bumper and rock the car up/down several times, can you reproduce clunk?
 
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