Scary Car Noise
November 19, 2004 1:00 PM   Subscribe

ScaryCarNoiseFilter: I have a 99 Civic, 50K miles. I'm a new 2nd owner. Today it started making an odd noise as I was coming off the Interstate: a rattle from the front passenger wheel-area which increased in volume as I braked. And it increases in intensity when I brake while going around curves.

It is an intermittent sound; mostly when turning while braking, and or braking @ higher speeds (75+). Also, there is no steering vibration associated with the sound. Any suggestions? A friend suggested CV Boot or CV Joints.
Is that spendy to fix? (it seemed like a good buy at the time!)
posted by atlatl to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I had a similar problem, although mine was associated with a vibration through the brake pedal. In the case of my car it was warped rotors (only 1 1/2 years old, too!). I do abuse the breaks pretty badly in it, though.
posted by shepd at 1:17 PM on November 19, 2004

I'm pretty sure it is related to CV joint failure. You should have it checked out, since if it fails completely while at speed, the results can be spectacular.

FWIW I had the same problem on a Dodge van. Repair< $100.
posted by RMALCOLM at 1:21 PM on November 19, 2004

Definitely sounds like CV failure.

Parts are inexpensive, and if you have a mechanically inclined friend, you can do the repair yourself in an afternoon, but it's a pain.

Under $100 seems low. I'd guess between one and two hundred, per axle.

Definitely get it done, though. Total CV failure can be bad, as RMALCOM suggests.
posted by jammer at 1:23 PM on November 19, 2004

First thing to check is whether a stone has become lodged behind the backside protective plate.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:47 PM on November 19, 2004

You should have it checked out, since if it fails completely while at speed, the results can be spectacular.

The results can be spectacular as well as expensive.
posted by hootch at 1:47 PM on November 19, 2004

CV is likely, but you could have worn wheel bearings. Do left turns and right turns make different sounds? If the noise is low-pitched, suspect the bearings.

Remember, you ought to replace all suspension and steering components in pairs.

If it is a CV issue: Rebuilt half-axles ("driveshafts", if you'd rather) will knock you back $70/per. You'll need two. You (or you and a friend with minimal skills) can do the job in an afternoon. If you don't know the safe way to be a shadetree mechanic, don't try to fix it. You'll be underneath the car a lot.
posted by trharlan at 1:54 PM on November 19, 2004

The cost will depend on your car: different cars require different amounts of labor to get at the CV joint. So don't be surprised if you get quotes that vary widely from what's being suggested here.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:55 PM on November 19, 2004

The results can be spectacular as well as expensive.

The results can be so spectacular that you won't be in any position to care about the expense. So get it looked at now.
posted by klausness at 1:56 PM on November 19, 2004

But about this rattle... does it sound like marbles rolling, or more of a clicking sound? Because older brake pads might lose their anti-rattle powers and start clicking on you. Which can be solved by replacing them.

If it sounds like marbles, go with the CV boot/joint diagnosis and hie thee to your friendly neighborhood alignment shop. This is one case where the specialist is cheaper than the generalist, if my old-car experience is anything to go by.
posted by naomi at 2:23 PM on November 19, 2004

I concur with trharlan. I had the exact same problem and it turned out to be wheel bearings. Don't pay a mechanic - bearing are relatively cheap and it's an easy job.
posted by NeonSurge at 2:26 PM on November 19, 2004

A stone in the between the dust shield and rotor (as I think fff suggests) is likely to make a screeching sound.

A FWD car has two half-axles, with two C/V joints per half-axle. The outboard C/Vs almost always fail first. If you go to a parking lot and turn your wheel hard left, do a circle, and turn it hard right, and do a circle, and you hear clicking noises, a bad outboard C/V is the likeliest culprit. Inboard C/Vs are tougher to diagnose.

Also, given the youth of the car, a bad C/V is probably caused not by old age, but by boot failure. Look for rips in the boot (the rubber enclosures on the axle ends) or grease in the vicinity of the CV.

The brake pad diagnosis is unlikely, IMO. My money is still on the bearings.
posted by trharlan at 2:34 PM on November 19, 2004

the sound is definitely a clacking sound (not marble-y)...and it only happens on the tighter curves. thanks much for all the tips/suggestions.

I ended up calling the Honda dealer who sold me the car, and making them say they'll look at it free of charge. (i just brought it home yesterday; test driving did not produce these results!) I'll update on Monday, with what they say.
posted by atlatl at 4:17 PM on November 19, 2004

trharlan is spot on with his words about being a shade tree mechanic.

I used to have a 95 civic that made the exact same noise. A friend and I did the brakes, and replaced the CV joints, but the problem persisted.

It ended up being a bit of molding on the underside that had come loose and was rubbing when I made tight left hand turns.
posted by icey at 2:15 AM on November 20, 2004

I best reiterate, then, that you check around for simple problems first.

Check the boots. If they're not broken, it's far less likely that you have an actual CV problem. Scout around for rocks in the dustpan, brake pad thickness, bits of crap hanging around, stuff like that. Go give the fender a good high-pressure cleaning, see if that helps.

If the noise persists after all that, then is is time to get serious about the CV joint.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:32 AM on November 20, 2004

update: apparently, the brake shield was rubbing on the disk, creating the intermittent rattle, esp. while turning. They say they adjusted it, and indeed the noise is gone. So I'll go back to enjoying my new used car. thanks, everyone!
posted by atlatl at 8:42 AM on November 22, 2004

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