Jim Grant's Tech Tips
‘99 Saturn SL1, Roaring Noise
Q: I’m having a roaring noise problem with my ‘99 Saturn SL1. The alignment is good, but the car “roars” while in motion. There is noise vibration, not the type of vibration that shakes the steering wheel violently. The vibration comes primarily from underneath, towards the front. I can feel it through the floorboard. It makes more noise turning right than turning left. It makes constant noise the entire time going straight and boy is it loud, not muffler loud. On top of that, my transmission is starting to “slip”, especially when I put it in reverse. Could this all be related? I don't even know what type of shop to take it to for an estimate. I am limited on funds and by myself with kids.
- Cindy L.
A: You’ve done a great job of describing a possible wheel bearing problem. Wheel bearings can be loud when driving straight. Commonly, wheel bearings will change (noise heard or vibration felt) as the steering is moved from side to side when driving down the highway. Wheel bearing replacement is a common task and most repair facilities are familiar with diagnosing and replacing wheel bearings. The wheel bearings on your vehicle are not serviceable, as in take it apart an replace the bad bearing with new grease and seal. The wheel bearings are sold as an assembly. The bearing price is in the area of $50 to $60, but it takes about 2 hours labor to change that bearing. As for the transmission slipping in reverse, check the transmission's fluid level to be sure it is at the correct level and that the fluid is not burnt. If you've never had the transmission filter serviced/replaced you may want to have that done. The filter is a screw on filter that looks like an oil filter. Filter service is quick and simple on your Saturn.