Any idea what that front-end noise could be if the CV joints & radiator are OK?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Aug 01, 2000

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a '94 Acura Integra LS with a five-speed transmission. The car developed a front-end noise after I took it to a Honda dealer. The noise, a low hum, sounds like what you hear when you run a wet finger around a wine glass. I only hear this noise when I turn right or left at low speeds -- between 2 mph and 15 mph. The sound started right after I had the car in for its 90,000-mile service. The dealer replaced the timing belt and the radiator, changed all the fluids and rotated the tires. The front CV joints were checked and found to be OK. What do you think is causing the noise? -- Scott

TOM: There are some noises that have only one possible source in the universe, Scott. For example, when I hear a moaning noise that sounds like, "She could have married anybody she wanted," I know it's coming from my mother-in-law.

RAY: But this groaning, moaning noise has a couple of potential sources. Both -- I would guess -- are in the brake system. I'd put my money on a sticky caliper or, perhaps, a misaligned brake pad.

TOM: This car has disc brakes all around. And my guess is that during the inspection, someone failed to notice a sticky caliper slide. That could cause a brake pad to remain in contact with the disc rotor after you come to a stop.

RAY: And that "pad-on-rotor" contact is what gives you the "finger-on-the-glass" noise. You'd be much more likely to hear it at low speeds because at higher speeds the other car and road noises would drown it out.

TOM: So take it back to the dealer and ask someone to ride with you and listen to the noise. Once he hears it -- and knows what he's looking for -- he can take another look at the caliper slides.

RAY: And if all the slides are moving freely, have him check the brake pads. It's also possible that something got moved or disturbed by accident during the brake inspection. But I think he'll find the source of the noise there in the brakes, Scott. Good luck.

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