Page updated on 06-21-2018

2004 LeSabre Limited - Humming/Buzzing Noise

02-13-2011, 01:37 PM
I'd like to post a thread that is a little different. I've actually already solved the problem but I'm hoping the solution might be able to help someone else who experiences the same issue.

About two weeks ago I was driving with the A/C on (Phoenix) and radio up when I heard a noise that sounded like someone driving next to me with loud off-road tires. I looked around and didn't see the usual obnoxiously lifted truck with all terrain tires on it. I turned off the radio and the A/C and realized my car was making a noise like a propellor plane taking off. The noise was tied to the speed of my vehicle but sounded like it was a much higher frequency than axle/bearing rotation speed. The noise also seemed to be coming from the center of my front end. I began to fear the worst in terms of trans bearings and bushings or final drive equipment failure.

This weekend I decided I would get a Timken hub from Autozone and just swap the wheel bearing on a whim to rule that out. The noise seemed to be shifted more towards the passenger side and it was significantly worse. Normally I would be dead set on using dealer parts but the dealer wanted $380 for the front hub and I didn't want to risk that expense because I was convinced I had a more serious problem.

I put the vehicle up on jack stands with the rear wheels chocked and locked I turned off traction control and put the car in drive with the windows rolled down. I heard no noise at all until the car shifted to 2nd and then the loud humming was audible from under the hood. I was so convinced I had a blown bushing or bearing in the trans that I nearly took the wheel bearing back to Autozone.

I figured I would go ahead and replace the bearing if the spindle nut seemed to come off without a fight. Then I told myself "ok well if the axle shaft spindle pops out of the hub with a couple hits from my hammer I'll proceed." I really didn't want to waste time doing something miserable that probably wasn't going to solve the problem. Everything went smoothly and the hub came right off, so I replaced it with the new one.

Low and behold... problem solved... No noise at all.

I've heard bearing failure on all sorts of cars and I've never heard one sound like this. The noise was a loud humming (high frequency) buzzing type noise at highway speeds it was almost too high frequency to hear. There was also virtually no change in the noise when you pitched the car left and right to redistrubute the weight on the wheels.

All told, if you hear a similar noise... try the simple stuff first. I rarely catch a break like this, lol.

09-25-2012, 04:00 PM
Thank you for posting this! You described exactly the noise that my car (2004 Buick Century) was making, I took it to the garage armed with your info and sure enough it was my passenger side wheel bearing! Not looking like an idiot in front of a mechanic: PRICELESS!

Tech II
09-26-2012, 09:45 AM
Bearings can make different sounds.....high pitched humming, but, for the most part, growling....

On a road test, it will start out low and increase with vehicle speed to a point, usually around 45mph...after that it usually doesn't get louder, pitch may change though....

So, the basic test, is to drive the vehicle on a straightaway, speed up to the point where noise is max, and then SAFELY, turn the steering wheel slightly left, and then slightly right......USUALLY, the noise will increase or stay the same in one direction, and lessen or go away in the opposite direction......

It can be tricky while driving.....sometimes you swear it's the left side while driving, and it could be the opposite side....jacking up the car and checking for looseness in the wheel bearing is not foolproof....seen wheel bearings with play, that had no noise......only foolproof way I know, is to put car on lift or jack up the front end, put the car in gear(ebrake applied and front end securely jacked up), hold one front wheel, which causes other wheel to spin faster, and listen with a mechanic's stethescope on a bolt of the bearing of the spinning wheel.....then do the same to the opposite will definitely hear the difference......

Add your comment to this topic!