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EricFromCT, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Volvo
Satisfied Customers: 3966
Experience:  ASE Master certified L1, L2, Diesel Certified 16 years experience
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Help!! Have a howling or whining sound coming from the front

Customer Question

Help!! Have a howling or whining sound coming from the front of the car -- 2008, 3.2 L, AWD. I have replaced the power steering pump (leaking fluid) the vacuum booster pump (leaking oil), tensioner pulley and idler pulley. The car has 127k miles and these repairs were needed anyway, but I was hoping they would fix my issue. The engine sounds pretty good when the car is in "park" but the sound I hear......I coming from the either the front or rear differential, the wheel bearings, or axels.
Here is an overview of the sound and when I hear it:
1. "winding up" sound on acceleration from a stop
2. howling sound when on the highway. Seems to be the worst over 30 miles per hour. The sound is almost non-existent when going down hill at high speeds and when I let off the gas
3. The howl/whine is very noticeable at low speeds, through parking lots.
4. The sound seems to be tied to the rotation of the tires, not to the rpm's of the engine.
Do you have any idea of the parts I could narrow the sound down to? I can diagnose because the car has to be moving to hear the sound. Any help would be great! Thanks in advance!!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Volvo
Expert:  EricFromCT replied 1 year ago.

Hi. THe front wheel bearings are common to go bad. When driving and hearing the noise, try to cut the wheel back and forth quickly and see if you get any change in tone of the sounds. This is a good way to narrow down a noisey wheel bearing. The sound will change when weighting or unweighting each side of the vehicle. Can you try that and let me know?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'll try that tomorrow. Thanks
Expert:  EricFromCT replied 1 year ago.

Ok Your welcome. Thank you and please rate my service and have a great evening.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Tried turning the wheel quickly but didn't notice any change in the sound. Also tried to pay attention around corners. Any good way to test if it is coming from the front or rear differential?
Expert:  EricFromCT replied 1 year ago.

The best way to check that is to have the vehicle off of the ground and spin it up. Either on a lift or 4 jack stands. Then its easier from the outside to isolate front or back. And even easier to isolate which wheel the noise may be coming from.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok....had the mechanic get it up on the lift and ran it. He said he couldn't hear much from the differential or wheel bearings while on the lift. So I took him for a test ride and he heard the sound. He said its probably a wheel bearing. But the sound only happens when the car is under load (going up hill or giving it gas). Do you agree with him on the wheel bearing even though the sound doesnt appear unless under load? Just don't want to keep replacing parts that aren't necessary (spent $1k already!). Thanks for all your help! -- Pat
Expert:  EricFromCT replied 1 year ago.

This is hard for me without hearing the noise, but generally if a wheel bearing is bad you will hear it on the lift. If the noise is not heard on the lift but on the road that usually indicates a tire noise. Have you tried rotating the tires from front to back to see if the noise changes. In case it is a tire issue.