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Old 11-30-2010, 01:46 PM   #1
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Loud groaning from front end

A few months back I had to replace the anti-sway bar linkages and bushings in order to pass inspection. The linkages were making a clunking noises which seems to be common to the OEM ones on the HHR. The new bushings are from a Chevy dealer. The linkages are Moog, which are a smidge(millimeters) longer than the originals.

The repair mostly fixed the clunking issue. Once and awhile it happens, but rarely. It passed, so I can live with that. However, the amount of road noise increase. At least that's what I thought. The new parts tightened up the connections and transmitted more road vibrations to the frame.

Except that it has gotten louder over time. It is quite overbearing at highway speeds. I hope to have a chance to take a look this weekend. Check for dragging and play in the bearings. If I can find them, replace the original linkages. At least regrease the new ones. Maybe take a test drive with the sway bar disconnected.

Any other suggestions?
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Old 12-06-2010, 08:14 PM   #2
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Re: Loud groaning from front end

Until moving this fall to get my bachelors I worked in a shop that did primarily suspension stuff. about 2.5 years in the shop, 2 years in school, 7 years fixing my cars myself, yadi yadi ya

The sway bar will not cause a groaning or grinding noise, don't mess around with it. grease it if it has grease fittings, nothing else. (and yes, almost all new cars in the last 10-15 years have gone to those dumb ball-joint style sway bar links that cost 5x as much, take 5x as long to change, and wear out at least as fast if not faster)

the three most likely causes are: 1. uneven tire wear 2. bad wheel bearing 3. brake caliper dragging and pad worn through. none of them take much to make noise.

I'd also suggest taking it to a chain shop that won't charge for inspections (farm and fleet, sears, NTB, firestone, some others) and tell them you want it inspected. remember you're under no obligation to get it fixed there, or anywhere.
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Old 12-07-2010, 05:35 AM   #3
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Re: Loud groaning from front end

I'll second the wheel bearing suggestion.
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Old 12-07-2010, 07:33 AM   #4
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Re: Loud groaning from front end

In my experience, lightly applying the brakes while driving will make a bad wheel bearing quieter (the brake pads take some of the load off of the bearing).

Also weaving from side to side can also help tell you if a wheel bearing is bad (the noise will increase/decrease depending on the amount/direction of side load).
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Old 12-07-2010, 07:45 AM   #5
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Re: Loud groaning from front end

My experience with wheel bearings has been that the only way to know for sure is to replace it, unfortunately. There's just too many different failure modes. The same wheel bearing can fail with any of dozens of symptoms and reactions to tests.

The normal way to test a wheel bearing is to jack the vehicle, grasp the tire top and bottom, and try to pivot it in and out/wiggle it, then try spinning it and see if it spins smoothly/freely. If it wiggles or doesn't spin smoothly/freely then it's probably bad (for spin failure check brakes too). Passing the test doesn't rule out other types of failure.
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Old 12-07-2010, 09:01 AM   #6
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Re: Loud groaning from front end

On an HHR site, it appears bearings, like the sway bar linkages, are a common problem. The wheels didn't wiggle when I tried them, but they didn't spin. It does quiet down while braking. The replace bearings came in yesterday.

I don't suspect brakes because I replaced them about a year ago, but I'll take a look and regrease them while doing the bearings.

The debate now is whether to take a day off, not a problem for me, to do them, or wait 'til the weekend when it is expected to warm up to the 40's.
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Old 12-16-2010, 04:13 PM   #7
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Re: Loud groaning from front end

Have you done bolt-on bearings before? if not, one of the most important tools is going to be a BFH.

front bearings are a problem on ALL chevy cars IME

ball-bearing wheel bearings (like the HHR and most cars in the last 15-20 years) don't tend to make as much of a variety of noises as tapered rollers, but there's still some variety. I've had them be opposite usual with noise while cornering, I've had them howl loudly while driving but had to take the wheel, brakes, and CV axle off before anything was noticeable on a lift.
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Old 12-17-2010, 09:53 PM   #8
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Re: Loud groaning from front end

Sometimes you can tell a bad wheel bearing this way. Find a parking lot with no traffic. Roll your windows down and then slowly turn the wheel all the way while going slowly in a circle. Listen to or for growling noise. As you get to full lock it puts more pressure on the bearings and they will make a louder growling noise than when you are going straight. Then repeat going the other way and listen to the other bearing. So if the noise gets louder as you turn and lessens as you straighten out .....bad bearing.

I hope I am explaining this right.

Hope this helps.
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Old 12-18-2010, 06:48 PM   #9
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Re: Loud groaning from front end

Loud groaning from the front end? That's the guy you ran over. He's stuck to your grille. :O
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Old 12-20-2010, 08:47 AM   #10
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Re: Loud groaning from front end

Yep, it was a bearing. Just one, but I had to have it off to tell which one it was. An HHR site had a clear write up on how to change them. Didn't need any special tools. The only hassle was one of the caliper pins was corroded and seized up. That's more because I had to run out and pay retail for the parts.

So, two new bearings and new pins on one brake. The bad pin didn't have the decency to be on the first wheel worked on, but the other side can wait til spring.

For future note, when checking the spin of a drive wheel, should both wheel be off the ground?
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