How to recognize the sounds of a bad tire.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1991

Dear Tom and Ray:

While driving my wife's 1988 Toyota Camry, I noticed a "thump, thump, thump..." while cornering hard to the left or right. Thinking this was caused by the well worn original tires, I replaced them with a brand new set. Much to my dismay (and nearly 400 bucks later) the thump is still there. The car has 37,000 miles on it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

TOM: Well, our first piece of advice is not to feel bad about spending money on the new tires, Duane. That would've been my first guess, too (especially if I were a tire dealer). Seriously, with 37K miles, I'm sure you needed new tires anyway.

RAY: As for the noise, the fact that it happens on turns makes me think that you may not be describing it correctly. There are many different varieties of "thumps." A tire thump, for example, sounds more like a "bum." So when you drive a long with a bad tire, you hear "bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum." By the way, that's also the sound my brother hears when he goes to visit his in-laws.

TOM: Right. But I'll bet your noise is more of a "clack," which is more metallic than a "thump." If your car sounds more like "gidda, gidda, gidda, gidda, gidda, gidda, gidda" when you go around turns, that's a classic sign of a bad CV joint.

RAY: If you want to test this theory, try stopping the car and cutting the wheel all the way to the right or left. Then accelerate hard. If it's a CV joint, you ought to hear that clacking sound in spades.

TOM: Ask your mechanic to check the CV joints. If he says the joints (not just the boots) are OK , have him check the whole front end. Whenever you feel a vibration from the front end--whether it's a "bum, bum," "gidda gidda," or "thud...ooouuch,"--it's always possible that it's something dangerous. Get it checked out, and good luck, Duane.

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