1997 steering wheel vibration between 55 -70 mph along with oscillating howling sound
When I hit just about 55 mph, I notice ONLY my steering wheel starting to vibrate. It isn't intense, just borderline annoying and worth the concern. What's strange is that it doesn't always happen whenever I hit 55, and also does not stay consistent within a single instance. For example, for about 5 seconds this will happen while in the 55-70 range, and it will randomly cease to vibrate, then randomly begins.
The other part here is the howling sound. It is always oscillating,(about 2 short "howls" per second), and I don't really hear it until I hit the 50s. With or without throttle, it happens .
I know there is an exhaust leak right around my drivers seat, could that be considerable for the howling as well? Personally I don't, because the sound always oscillates
EDIT: The howling sound is audible as low as 35/40 mph
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Howling is a strong indication of wheel bearing. Hard to tell without taking everything apart, but if you take your foot and push on the tire as if you are checking to see if it has enough air, the tire could have some play in it. That was the case for me. And typically when one side goes out, so does the other. As a side note, dont just swap out the bearing like I did... (backyard mechanic) we put bearings on bad spindles and guess what, bad bearings a month later. Just my experience.
Wheel balancing is when you add weights to each side of the wheel so that the center of gravity will be the middle of the wheel . Unfortunately its not something you would be able to do yourself as it requires an expensive machine. A tire shop would be able to do it and the ones around me do it for free when you pay them to rotate the tires, however, make sure to mention to them that they need to be balanced. Always a pain to pay a shop for something you know you can do at home (rotating tires).
As an extra note, unbalanced wheels can cause some suspension parts to wear prematurely and also uneven tire wear patterns.
Last edited by PuReChaos; 12-10-13 at 12:25 PM.
Reason: correcting definition thanks to tomf
Wheel balancing is when you add weights to a wheel to make each wheel equal to each other.
As written, this is not correct. Each wheel is balanced independent of the other wheels. If one side of a wheel is heavier than the other side, it is unbalanced. The center of gravity of the wheel is not at the center of the wheel. An unbalanced wheel, when rotating, will wobble, causing vibration. The faster the rotation the more severe the vibration. Thus weights are added to an unbalanced wheel to balance the wheel so the center of gravity is at the center of the wheel.
BTW it is possible to balance the wheels yourself using a relatively inexpensive tool like this
Definitely will be getting the spindles and wheel bearings checked.
Just so you understand. The spindle Faithmkss mentioned is an integral part of the hub. So when Faithmkss said replace the bearings and the spindle, he meant replace the bearings and the hub.
On the ES300, the front bearings are pressed into the steering knuckle using several tons of force. Then the spindle portion of the hub is pressed into the bearings using several tons of force. Here's an example of a hub and bearing http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/more...741&cc=1387054 .
Again, thank you all for your amazing insight. How costly can the process of pressing the front bearings into the steering knuckle be? And hopefully they are the bearings in the back instead of the front.
Update: Found out the front tires are two different brands, great.
So I will have my buddy at the shop check the center weight of each wheel, check the bearings, hubs, and either replace or match the tires. I also have an.ODB II scanner on the way, can't wait to never be potentially lied to again, or having to wait days until I know what's wrong with my baby.
I had the same thing you are getting, it turned out to be a locked brake caliper. It was making just enough contact that it would heat and swell at higher speeds (60+) giving the exact sypmtoms you are getting. I would suggest getting them looked at whiel you are checking out the other, but an easy indicator.. once it starts, pull off the road and check you rotor for excessive heat on one side .
------ DO NOT TOUCH THE ROTORS !!!! -----
You should be able to feel the difference from a few inches away. It may also smell strange, metallic smell.