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New front end noise, how can I diagnose the front end?


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Hey guys,

I took my truck and my dirtbike out to the desert this weekend and since it was so damn hot we decided to take the trucks out for a little fun in the air conditioning. I went through some sand, did some hill climbs, nothing too crazy, used 4x4 on and off worked great. I did apparently dump a good amount of oil out of the vent tube going down a hill, though.  On the drive home everything was fine didn't *notice* any noises but had the radio going and with the 5" pipe can't hear much anyways. Last night I'm driving home from my buddies and over the radio I can hear a growling and feel in the floorboard some vibrations especially over bumps. Turn the radio off, very noticeable growling in the cab and can feel a sort of whirring vibration in the floorboard. When I would hit a road marker the front passenger tire would clunk and felt like it steered the wheel a bit but only on one side. The growling got worse as I went home and even this morning pulling the truck in I noticed something is definitely off. It clunked turning into the driveway and clunked on flat ground. Strange to me that it came on so suddenly when my front end was solid before but I did hit some good bumps in the dirt. Do you guys have any advice for trying to isolate what might be causing the problem? I'm used to 1/2 ton chevy problems and over bumps it felt like bad steering but the growling and clunking on flat turns has me confused here.

 

Edited by Reaper22
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Posted (edited)

Making sure if it's a wheel bearing is the most important as that item going bad can leave you stranded. Jack up the front and see if there is any wiggle at all in the wheel. Use a shovel under the tire and pry up and down to see for any wiggle in the  wheel. Pry up or lift a lot harder in order to check the ball joints.

 

Another way is to have the wife turn the steering wheel back and forth (key on but engine off) going left to right in rapid motion while you look for any looseness or movement under the front.

 

Edited by JAG1
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Ok I jacked the truck up with the wheel on and tried to get it to move, seems to be no movement at all vertically ball joints certainly don’t move but without a second person hard to tell because the front coils start to compress as I push hard with a long crowbar. Wheel spins perfectly both directions no sounds or friction, u joints seem very tight.  I decided to check lug nuts and a few were probably half as tight as they should be. Drove the truck and no clunking that I could tell but the whirring vibration is still there. No steer or clunk on bumps. The lugs were still tight enough that I can’t imagine the wheel could move but these are heavy trucks so maybe. 

 

Could be that my Toyo MTs are just getting low on tread and I’m hearing or feeling them more especially since I just rotated? 
 

Definitely some play in the tie rod ends and Pittman, what would be a budget steering upgrade for a 99’? Not fond of putting in the same parts that failed 

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On 7/1/2020 at 5:20 PM, Royal Squire said:

I’m guessing wheel bearing. Jack up and take wheel and caliper off and then check bearing 

Kitt, so are you saying there is not enough play with the brake caliper and pads to check the bearing? I always thought there was, but I could always be wrong, of course.

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On 7/1/2020 at 5:20 PM, Royal Squire said:

I’m guessing wheel bearing. Jack up and take wheel and caliper off and then check bearing 

When you say check the bearing do you just mean try to move it for play or do you mean take the bearing out and visually inspect it? 

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When you have it jacked up grab the the tire at 3 and 9 and try to shake back and forth. If the bearing is bad you should have some movement. Now if your tie rod ends are loose you could still feel some movement but this is why you need check everything on the front end. All the components work together. I dont think there is any need to get all the way to the bearing to determine  whether it is bad or not.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Royal Squire said:

I have heard other guys say they have seen bearing assemblies that seemed ok until they removed axle nut and then it was obviously shot. 

I think your right....but might be able to tell if someone is watching for slight movement on the back side while another is trying to wiggle. I'm not sure, but hope there is an easier way to tell. 

 

When my drivers wheel bearing left me stranded there was no warning except I heard it throwing pieces and coming apart seconds before the whole wheel collapsed. Almost lost control at 62 mph throwing me into the fast lane. I was glad no one was alongside at that moment. I was hauling my camper from a long run and just got off a two lane highway which could have been a disaster if it went into the oncoming lane. As it was, I was on the freeway with little traffic and the wheel just collapsed.

 

A week later I replaced the passenger bearing as a precaution. You couldn't tell if anything was wrong until it was taken off and spin hand..... you could feel a slight click or grab when turning.

 

IBMobiles wheel bearing gave a warning when I drove his truck I could feel a possible bad bearing with a slight difference in noise and feel in steering on turns. Not being sure, I told him to check it and turned out to be a bad wheel bearing. Now his truck is two wheel drive so there might be a difference making it easier to tell.

Edited by JAG1
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You could also help confirm the wheel bearing failure with an infrared laser heat gun by comparing the temps on each bearing 

 

I used this method on our Tahoe, I couldn’t tell if it was the cv axle or bearing  but the heat gun helped me narrow it down to the passenger side wheel bearing, their was about 30 degree difference in temp readings, took the hub off and it was obvious, not totally gone but would have grenaded eventually  

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Thank you 01cummins4ever. :thumb1:... I need to purchase one and keep it handy in the tools with the truck.

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I ran bearings till they melted the abs sensors. 

My bearings seemed to get tighter at the melt down stage.

 

Make sure rotor mud collectors arent bent rubbing rotor

 

I have 1bad balljoint replaced all 4 a year ago

 

I'd still eliminate driveline 

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