Hi Toby, can we clairfy when the noise occurs? With the car stationary, can you push down on the front end and hear the noise as the suspension goes up and down? If not, you can probably rule out bushings.
Does the noise change as the car goes faster? How about turning left or right?
The noise seems to disappear the faster you go. As you slow down it makes the sound longer. The noise is not there when you push up and down on the front end. The noise is there when you turn in either direction.
Did the noise start occurring after any repairs? Or did it just show up one day while driving?
The noise started first. It was when I tried to figure it out that I noticed the front pads were getting low. I replaced the pads and rotors hoping it would cure the problem, but it didn't. I have never heard a sound like this before so I'm at a loss and so is the shop where we took it to be diagnosed.
Toby, there is a bulletin for this car regarding a similar noise due the wheel making slight contact with the caliper. You would not notice it by spinning the wheel because there is no weight on the wheel. It sometimes gets louder while turning as the wheel flexes.
Can you remove the wheel and inspect the inner wheel area and caliper for signs of contact?
When I had the wheel off the replace the brakes I didnt see anything (like a shiny spot) on the wheel or the caliper.Since the car is 12 years old with the usual amount of accumulated grime I thiknk that would be obvious. Also, it doesn't only happen when turning. the wheels can be straight and the noise is still there.
Just so you know, I really appreciate your help.
Toby, I'm glad to see you inspected the wheel and caliper. Can you also confirm the rotor splash shield is clear of the rotor? I'm assuming you checked the tire for unusual wear or a 'flat spot'?
You seem pretty knowledgeable, you say it sounds 'squishy'. Like a rubber squeak? Or more metallic like the shield rubbing.
Rex- Yes, it sounds like a wet rubber "squish" . This car doesn't have a splash shield for the rotor. It's not a metallic grinding sound or a ssshh sound like if the rotor was warped. I've never heard anything like it before. I had thought maybe it was something in the transaxle or boots around the CV joints. I've never encountered this on my own '98 Saturn so I just don't know what happens when these parts go bad. Or maybe something is in the transmission on this side of the car that would make this kind of noise? I'm only knowledgeable of the things I've fixed on my own cars over the past 30 years. But this one has stumped the band!
Toby, do you have access to a vehicle hoist? The next step is to get it up in the air so we can run it in drive while looking under the car. Jackstands are not safe for this and they don't allow enough clearance to observe and listen. Maybe the shop you took it to would agree to put it in the air just to listen?
Sorry to say I don't have a hoist. I'll need to ask the shop if they can try this.
I have to sign off for for now.
Thanks for your input, hope to talk t you again.
Okay, I'll wait for your reply.