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Alex, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Chevy
Satisfied Customers: 1161
Experience:  ASE Certified Master Technician, L1 Advanced Level Specialist
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2001 Chevy Impala: a vibration in the front end..accelerate..brakes

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I have a 2001 Chevy Impala. I have a vibration in the front end when I accelerate, and I notice it when I am making a left turn and accelerating. I recently did my brakes, so I tokk off both front tires to make sure the calipers and lug nuts were all tight, and they appear to be. Any suggestions?
Hello. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'll be assisting you with your question.

It sounds like you have a loose wheel bearing. To check this you'll need to lift the front tires off the ground and push and pull the tires at the top and bottom to check for wheel bearing movement. If there is any movement at all, the hub bearing needs to be replaced.

If the wheel bearings are tight, then you most likely have a problem with an inner joint on one of the front CV axles. The best way to check this is to run the car in drive with the vehicle in the air and observe the inner CV joints for any wobble. If there is any wobble noticed the CV axle needs to be replaced.

Edited by Alex M on 2/13/2011 at 8:29 PM EST
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I lifted the front end and both front tires have a little wiggle to them. Do you think this is the hub bearing?
Yes as long as the play is when your are grabbing the tire at 6 o'clock and 12 o'clock. That is, you are shaking it top to bottom. This indicates a wheel bearing needs to be replaced on that wheel.

If play is felt when shaking it side-to-side, grabbing the tire at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock this indicates a loose tie rod end. This would have to be very loose for you to notice a vibration from it.

Edited by Alex M on 2/13/2011 at 8:39 PM EST
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
But should I feel the same amount of play on both tires?
You may or may not feel the same amount of play on both wheels. You should feel no play in either wheel. For example, If you feel play on the right front only, and not the left front, then your problem is with the right front.

Edited by Alex M on 2/13/2011 at 8:51 PM EST
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
New information: Right front (passenger side) no play 6 and 12 o'clock. Little play 3 and 9 o'clock. Left front little play 6 and 12 o'clock. Little play 3 and 9 o'clock.
Ok cool so you've found a problem with the left front wheel bearing and possibly a tie rod as well. You can also feel play at 3 and 9 o'clock with a loose wheel bearing. I would suggest replacing the left front hub assembly and re-checking that wheel for play. However, that wheel bearing is most likely your vibration problem.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
How difficult is it replace the left front hub assembly, and is it something I can pick up from Checker?
I wouldn't suggest using any parts from checker. I would get it from Advanced or Napa. It is easy to replace if you have the right tools. You just take off the rotor, take off the center nut, and the remove the 3 bolts from the back as shown in the diagram. The axle may be stuck in the hub assembly in which case you would need a hub puller. However a lot of times it will simply slide out:

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thanks for your help. Here is my next question: The temperature gauge for the radiator doesn't go up at all, and I've noticed that the fans run for a long time after I turn off the car. What do you think?
First, I would check the coolant level in the radiator and fill it up as necessary. Remember to make sure the radiator is full and not just the plastic coolant bottle. If that is ok I would suspect a problem with the coolant temperature sensor. Unfortunately, it's difficult to get to. I've included a digram of its location:

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I checked the coolant level, and the low coolant level light has been on for a long time and I don't know how to reset it. Would the coolant temperature sensor cause the check engine light to come on?
The check engine light may or may not come on if there is a problem with the coolant temp sensor. It's hit or miss. The low coolant level light is on because the coolant level is low in the plastic reservoir, and likely in the radiator too. The coolant reservoir is by the alternator on the right front strut tower. Top it off with coolant and the light should go off.

Edited by Alex M on 2/13/2011 at 9:22 PM EST
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

The reservoir is full. Is there a way to reset the light like I can with the tire pressure and change the oil lights?

No there's no way to reset it. That light should go off if the coolant level is full. I would check the wiring and connector at the coolant level switch on the radiator. It's possible there's a problem with the switch itself if the coolant level is full and the light is still on.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I just talked to NAPA and they asked if I have ABS brakes or not. How can I tell?
Look in the wheel well and see if there is an electrical connector runing to the wheel hub. If you have ABS brakes there will be a wiring connector behind the rotor. If you don't have ABS there will be no electrical wiring in the wheel well.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I just read in my owner's manual that if I have ABS brakes, the ABS light will come on when I start the car, and it did. NAPA only has one hub assembly in stock. It is about 100 bucks. Do you think it would be cheaper just to take it somewhere and have the bearings repacked?
You can't re-pack these bearing as they are a sealed unit. You have to replace the entire hub assembly. It would be more expensive to take it to a shop because they will just replace the hub assembly as well, plus labor.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Ok, I went to NAPA and got the parts for the left side. I removed the tire and the caliper. There are two 15mm bolts holding the bracket that hold the caliper and I cannot get them to move. Any hints?
I usually use an impact wrench to get those out because they have thread locker on them. Otherwise I would put a box end wrench on them and tap them loose with a large hammer. Double check that you're tapping the wrench in the correct direction to loosen the bolts.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I got the two bolts off, but the guy at NAPA sold me the wrong size nut driver for the big nut on the axle, so I guess I will finish this tomorrow. Thanks for all your help.
You're welcome. Don't forget to click accept if my answers were helpful. Thank you
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