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Discussion Starter #1
1996 Ford Escort 1.9 liter 5-speed

About a year ago i noticed a noise in the front end when the road took a bend to the left. I would describe the noise as a 'tire rubbing' or as if the tires were warped.

Over the past year the noise has gotten louder and now it happens when i am going straight too. Consistantly it has always gone away when i steer my car to the right, but returns when i straighten out/go to the left (it is most pronounced when steering to the left).

I've rotated my tires a few times in the past year, which doesn't stop the noise. I thought it might be a front hub berring, but the tires don't feel loose when the car is jacked up, and the wheels spin freely with no noise. The hub never heats up after driving.

The noise is the same whether the car is in gear or i slip it into neutral while driving. It happens at all speeds and gets faster with faster rotation of the tires. I tried driving by someone repeatedly to see if they could hear the noise from outside the car but they said they couldn't. You can feel the vibrations from the noise in the floor pedals and steering wheel.

Any ideas? i'm out of them.
 

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I've rotated my tires a few times in the past year, which doesn't stop the noise. I thought it might be a front hub berring, but the tires don't feel loose when the car is jacked up, and the wheels spin freely with no noise. The hub never heats up after driving.
Hmmm. I guess you have done that.
 

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when you say:
It happens at all speeds and gets faster with faster rotation of the tires
you shifted gears while testing it, right?? and the noise continued to increase, never decreased. (i'm just clarifying, i've had techs say that and they had to recheck 'cause they only listened when in high gear)

does the noise change if you lightly apply the brakes??

does it change during accel or decel??

have you checked the motor/tranny mounts and the axle shafts??

have you checked it the the drive wheels in the air with engine running and in gear?? if you do, please be careful, strap the car down and use sturdy jack stands and make sure nothing is in front of the vehicle.
 

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You should try placing a stethoscope against the knuckle and compare the noise from side to side,with the frontend jacked up.If a stethoscope is not available you can use a screwdriver (long one) placed against the knuckle and your ear.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
To clarify:

When I said the speed of the noise increased with increased rotation of the tires, i didn't mean it didn't decrease. It decreases as i slow down and increases as i speed up.

When I said that the noise is the same when the car is in gear vs. in neutral, I was thinking that it didn't have anything to do with with the transmission because whether the car is in gear or neutral the sound and frequency of the noise is the same (depending on the speed i'm travelling).

The noise does not change when i apply the brakes (other than it gets slower which is because the speed i'm moving is getting slower as a result of braking). In regards to acceleration/deceleration, as the tires rotated faster the noise increases, and as the car decelerates the noise decreases.

To me it sounds like the sound is coming from the tires rotation, but i don't know what's causing it (and it goes away when i steer to the right)

And I have checked it with the front wheels in the air while the car is in gear, and it seems perfectly normal. The noise only happens when the weight of the car is on the ground.
 

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Try rubbing your hand over the tires esp on the edges and see if you can feel any scolloping.If the tires are starting to scollop they will sound like truck tires.If it's only on one edge it will go away when turned in the oposite direction.
 

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I agree with Boghog.

I have a flat spot on only one tire on the van, I can feel the dull droan in my feet and it can be heard by the passenger's as the same a dull droan. It was worse when that tire was on the front, as it is was rotated to the back so it could go on the dyno for an emission test. Both the feel and pitch of the droan increases and decreases on acceleration and deceleration.
 

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My thought was that you have a slipped belt, and/or a bubble in the tire located more to one side. I agree with both BogHog, and MissInformation.

Out of balance tires will give a vibration at 45-50 mph, but out of round tires can give a low speed vibration, even a thumping sound. Sometimes you can hear/feel it at 10-15 mph, have it go away and return at 35mph. Of course I am just making up the speeds.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I have looked carefully at all my tires, and thinking it might have been the tires, i thought the noise would go away the first time i rotated the tires after i heard the noise.

But the noise was EXACTLY the same with different tires on the front which makes me think it has nothing to do with the tires being warped. Since a year ago when the noise started i have rotated the tires a few times, and the noise does not change.

The only thing that has changed as time has gone on is that the noise has slowly gotten louder, and when the noise started a year ago it only happened when i held a turn to the left (like on a bend or curve), but now it has progressively gotten worse and happens when I'm driving straight (but still not when i hold a curve to the right).

The last time i rotated my tires i did notice that the front right tire (passenger side) was unevenly worn. It was more worn on the outside than the inside. But the noise was still exactly the same after i put the front tires to the back.
 

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did you go front to back, or front to back and left to right?

You might have a friend drive beside and behind you on the freeway and see if he can see one tire that is out of balance.
 

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But the noise was EXACTLY the same with different tires on the front which makes me think it has nothing to do with the tires being warped.
Help us understand this, did you actually replace the tires on the front with new ones?

I ask only because I do not have the droan with my winter tires, which are mounted on their own set of rims.
 

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i''m just thinking out load here...

have you checked the half-shafts and CV joints??

also, the bearings in the transaxle that support the half-shafts??

how does the transaxle fluid look?? dirty?? metal shavings??

how do the motor and tranny mounts look??

remember to look at both sides...if the noise goes away when it's unloaded (turning/wheels in the air) and the noise goes away when turning to the right then check the right side more carefully since that is the side that is unloaded.
 

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Now that we have more info on the tires,lets rule them out.Did you check the wheel bearings as I suggested.The noise will not be the same as you hear while driving,but you will definitely hear a metalic noise compare it to the other side for a comparison.The bearing is made of 2 indpendant sets of ball bearings,i=If one set is worn it will make a noise in one direction and not the other.There will be no other effects until the bearing is completely worn such as the wheel will wiggle in and out.I have attached a picture.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
I did not replace any tires, i just rotated them as it says in the manual (front left to back right, back right to front right etc.).

The CV joint/boot looks fine. I have had both of them go in the past which makes more of a clicking/clunking noise (unlike the noise i have now).

The transaxle fluid is clean. I haven't yet checked the transaxle berrings/half shafts or the motor/tranny mounts and am yet to try a stethoscope on the knuckle.

I don't think the noise has anything to do with the actual tires (pretty sure they aren't warped in any way), it just sounds like the noise might be coming from somewhere near the front ones. Could poor alignment of the front tires cause this? The car drives pretty straight.
 
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