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DaveTheCarGuy
DaveTheCarGuy, Car Enthusiast
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Experience:  AAS in Automotive Technology.
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I have a 2008 HHR that has been making a noise in the mornings

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I have a 2008 HHR that has been making a noise in the mornings during the cooler weather. I live in TX so it's not extremely cold. It seems to stop after the car is driven a while. It sounds as if the wheels are not aligned correctly (as if your going over a speed bump) when riding on a road that isn't completely smooth..or like something is loose. The wheels have been checked.
What else can I check? Thanks
Hello,

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be helping you today. I have a few questions to ensure I can get you a good diagnosis:


Does the noise change with speed? (louder when slow, or louder when faster)

Does the noise happen on all mornings or only cool mornings?

Does it sound like it is coming from the front or the back?

Is the noise the same during brake application?

Any recent maintenance on the vehicle?


Thanks,
Dave
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No it doesn't change with speed. Not only on cold days.... Seems to be after the car is sitting for a while even during the day. I believe it sounds as if it's in the front or middle not the back. changed outer carrier barings on both sides even though it only needed one side. Changed rear breaks and rotters recently. I believe the noise was there before the breaks were changed. Front breaks changed last year. No unusual wear on tires.


 

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No it doesn't change with speed. Not only on cold days.... Seems to be after the car is sitting for a while even during the day. I believe it sounds as if it's in the front or middle not the back. changed outer carrier barings on both sides even though it only needed one side. Changed rear breaks and rotters recently. I believe the noise was there before the breaks were changed. Front breaks changed last year. No unusual wear on tires.




Hello,

From the way you are describing the noise, it sounds like a rusty front brake rotor is rubbing or possibly a bearing issue. How long ago did you replace the bearings?If the sound is behind you at all, even if it sounds like it is right behind the seat, it is also possible to be a rear wheel bearing.

Can you describe the noise in some more detail? Is it like a rumble strip on the side of the highway, or more like a grinding noise?

Thanks,
Dave
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

It sounds more like a rattle when the front wheels hit the ground after going over even a small bump. It doesn't sound like the back of the car so I don't think it could be the back bearings.

Hello,

If it is worse after bumps there are several possibilities:


Loose/worn Tie rod ends, you will feel this through the steering usually if these are the cause. See if the steering feels "loose" when the vehicle is parked with the motor off.

Loose/Worn strut top plates

Worn lower control arm bushings (would be more of a clunk than a rattle)

Worn steering intermediate shaft/joint. If it sounds like it is almost inside the car, under the dash, I would check this next.

Thanks,
Dave
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So what you're saying is that I need a mechanic to look or drive my car and determine what it could be between those things?

Hello,

If your willing to dig in and test, I can walk you through testing those items. If not, then a shop is needed for exact diagnosis. This is due to the number of suspension components that can all cause the same noise/vibration under they same circumstances. On some HHRs it is the steering rack itself making the noise.

Let me know if you want to test yourself so we can walk through the tests that you can run. Or if you do take it to a shop, let me know if you have any questions on their diagnosis.

Thanks,
Dave
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I really would appreciate you helping me diagnos the problem so I make sure I know what it is before I bring it to a shop. What should I do? When should the struts be replaced on an HHR?


Thanks

Hello,

We can go through the at home tests that you can do. You will need access to a car jack, jack stands, and maybe a second person.

First test will be the steering. With the car in park, turn the key to run (engine off) and try moving the wheel back and forth. There should be less than 1" of free travel either direction. Also listen for noises.

Second, we will check the struts. With the vehicle on a flat and level surface, you want to push down on one corner of the car at a time. Work the car up and down a few times then let go. Count the bounces, your struts should stop the car in three bounces or less. Also listen for squeaks, rattles and clunks while doing this.

Next will be the suspension itself. Lift and secure the vehicle with both front wheels off the ground. Once the vehicle is in the air, you want to shake each wheel (one at a time). You are feeling for looseness, these parts should have less than .5" of travel. First do this with your hands at 12 and 6 o'clock. This tests the lower ball joint and strut. Next, you want to do it with your hands at 3 and 9 o'clock. This tests the steering ends and the bushings. If you have a lot of movement in one direction that is where you head. If you find something is loose and moving then you will need to remove the wheel and find the movement. You can also have someone in the car move the steering while the wheel is off, and you can look and listen for noises or worn parts.



Struts in general last 45k - 70k miles, sometimes longer. So you could be ok.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you again for taking the time to write these tests for me. I will try to do them tomorrow and let you know what results I come up with. I was thinking it could be my struts since I have 117,000 miles at this time. I really intend to keep this car for another five years so I realize I'll have to put some money into it to make it safe. That's why I try to do all the necessary work that should be done....I usually don't wait long to check out a noise etc.


Thanks

No problem, I am glad to help. Many suspension shops will do an inspection for free, so if you cannot find the noise, that is the next trip. It seems that you are like myself though and want to go in armed with the knowledge of what needs to be done. Definitely let me know how it goes.

Thanks,
Dave