/ Ford focus steering noise help

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Ben Sharp - on 09 Feb 2013
Another thread requesting mechanical help I'm afraid.
It's a 2001 ford focus estate, 1.8 petrol.

For the past few weeks I've been getting a noise only on main roads while driving straight or turning left, but it stops when turning right. The car drives in a straight line on it's own (with hands off) but the steering wheel is slightly right hand down when going straight, by about 10 degrees off straight. Apart from that there are no other steering problems, no noise driving around town or when moving the wheel stationary and no clunks or bumps when steering.

The noise is a motor like, resonating sound which gets louder the further left I turn while driving on the A roads, anything above 45-50mph ish.

There's no play in the wheel and the CV joints look fine.

Any suggestions welcome,

Thanks

Ben
DreadyCraig - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:
Have you checked the level of your power steering fluid, if it gets too low it makes it noisy
OwenM - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp: Just had a similar problem with mine, the garage man thought it would most likely be a broken road spring which is common on focus's. Turned out to be the CV joint.
Enty - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Sounds like a wheel bearing. Faster you go the higher pitched it gets.
I've got the same on my van - need to get it in this week.

E
Ben Sharp - on 09 Feb 2013
Hey everyone, thanks for the suggestions. Power steering fluid level is fine, hadn't thought about the coils, the suspension bounces back nicely but the coils are pretty rusty and probably quite old. Will have a closer look at them tomorrow in the daylight.

CV joints look in good condition, no visible signs of the rubber cracking or leaking. Could they still be goosed without any outwards signs of decay?

I did consider the wheel bearing, is there any way to check them? As I said there's no play in the wheel in any direction. I wouldn't say the noise is high pitched, it doesn't really sound rotational if that makes sense, more of a grinding, motory noise.
Tall Clare - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

One way to check wheel bearings (no idea if it's foolproof or even particularly reliable, it's just what an RAC man showed me when I had an absolutely munted one on my 53 plate Focus estate) is to jack up the car to free up whichever wheel you suspect, and see if there's any play in the wheel towards and away from you.

butteredfrog - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Hi Ben

You are describing a O/S front wheel bearing (drivers side).

This is exactly how we test for them, when you turn left you are transfering more weight to the righthand front wheel - so more noise. Turning to the right you unload the righthand wheel - less weight on the bearing - less noise.

Play in the wheel is not always noticable due to front brake calipers "holding" the disk.

Cheers Adam

Ben Sharp - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to butteredfrog: cheers, I've had it jacked and not felt any play but I'll slip the caliper off tomorrow and see if I can feel any play then.
Ben Sharp - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp: Cheers again for everyones help. Had the wheel and caliper off this morning and there's absolutely zero play on the hub at all.

The front off side is 10mm lower at the arch than the near side so I'm wondering if the person who suggested a suspension problem might have been right. I think I'm just going to bite the bullet and take it into the garage tomorrow as I'll need the car next weekend. Very annoying.
butteredfrog - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Hi Ben

No rotational noise from the right hand front wheel when you spin it then?

Can you re-describe the symptoms? Your original description suggested a wheel bearing.

Cheers Adam
Ben Sharp - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to butteredfrog: Hi Adam, there's no sound at all when spinning the wheel, just spins normally. Had the caliper off and put the wheel back on to get some leverage, there really is no play at all.

When driving the sound occurs going straight or left but stops when turning right. It only happens above 40-50mph and it's a kind of non-rotational, grinding, motory noise. Also the steering wheel sits right hand down by about 10 degrees off level. Also just noticed this morning that the offside front is sitting 10mm lower than the other side at the wheel arch. I'd really like it to be the springs but I'm not sure that would make the noise I'm hearing, they could just be old and in need of replacing but not what's causing the noise.
butteredfrog - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to butteredfrog:

Just re-read your original description. No steering noises at stationary, so unlikley to be a broken spring, top mount (easy to check, is the coil complete at the bottom? or does it look broken?) or other suspension/steering problem. 10mm arch to wheel is not a lot.

When you took the brake caliper off, did the pads look ok? (worn pads allowing metal to metal contact with the rusty bits of the disk) , brake sliders free? (the sliding pins in the pad carrier that the caliper bolts too) and pads free to move in the carrier? anything seized will potentially cause a rubbing noise.

Did the tyre look ok, No lumps or bulges or uneven wear? again this can cause road noise (and can be dangerous!)

Still think its your wheel bearing, play is not always evident. The ability to "switch" the noise on and off by rocking the steering wheel while driving is the big clue.

Just to make sure give it another road test, drop the front windows so you are listening to sounds from outside the car, as sound can travel through the body of the car. If you are unsure, check the rear wheel bearings too.

Cheers Adam

jamesofdeath - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Just had the front O/S wheel bearing replaced on my 2007 Ford Focus on Wednesday. The symptoms you're describing are exactly the same as I was encountering; even the steering wheel being 10 - 15 degrees out of line when holding the car straight. Noise seemed to be at its loudest at 55mph, above 65 it sort of worn off. Was worse turning the car one direction but eased off completely turning it the other way.

My money = wheel bearing.
jamesofdeath - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

By the way, I paid 140 fully fitted at my local garage. National quoted me 208.

Thought I'd chuck that in there as a guide price if you weren't going to do it yourself.
Ben Sharp - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to jamesofdeath:
> (In reply to Ben Sharp)
>
> By the way, I paid 140 fully fitted at my local garage. National quoted me 208.

Heavens above, aren't wheel bearings like 10 and a 30 min job if you've got the machinery to remove it?
Ben Sharp - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to butteredfrog: Brakes are fine, had a fair bit of bother with them last year so the caliper, pads and discs are all relatively new and working ok.

The coils don't look broken and they bounce ok, no noticeable change in how it drives either.

Sounds like the consensus is it's the bearing, cheers for everyones help.
johnwright - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:
> (In reply to jamesofdeath)
> [...]
>
> Heavens above, aren't wheel bearings like 10 and a 30 min job if you've got the machinery to remove it?

No, front wheel drive wheel bearing are generally double row bearing and take a little while to change.
Ben Sharp - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to johnwright:
> (In reply to Ben Sharp)
> [...]
>
> No, front wheel drive wheel bearing are generally double row bearing and take a little while to change.

Surely it's just a case of taking the wheel and caliper off, undoing half a dozen bolts to release the hub, taking the bearing out, putting the new one in and reassembling. With one of those fancy bolt guns to remove the bolts and a tool to squeeze the bearing out surely it can't take that long?
Jim C - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:
> (In reply to johnwright)
> [...]
>
> Surely it's just a case of taking the wheel and caliper off, undoing half a dozen bolts to release the hub, taking the bearing out, putting the new one in and reassembling. With one of those fancy bolt guns to remove the bolts and a tool to squeeze the bearing out surely it can't take that long?

It needed a special tool for my Renault, I had to get a thick walled tube about 8" long and machine either end to the sizes needed to first drift out the old bearing and then swap it over and bash in the new one ( carefully bash it that is, making sure it was straight. ) A garage should have a hydraulic press, making it easier.

Easier to get the garage to do it , if you have the cash.
LastBoyScout on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Definitely sounds like a bearing. Jack the car up and spin the wheel slowly - you'll be able to feel roughness if the bearing's gone.

I've had 3 go on my Focus. If you're doing the work yourself, ignore the bit in the Haynes manual that suggests you can knock the bearing out with a hammer and punch. Yes, it's on a taper, but it's a very fine taper and if it's a bit stuck, it won't shift - I ended up taking mine to a friendly garage to swap just the bearing for a tenner, then reassembled it at home.

If you'd said a squeak, I'd have said anti-roll bar link rods.
LastBoyScout on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Another problem I had with my Focus was the hub nut coming loose - this meant that the corner of the brake caliper was able to rub on the back of the disk and cause a bit of a noise.

Check the nut for tightness and both sides of the disk for any scoring - also check caliper for any signs of rubbing.
EeeByGum - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to OwenM:
> (In reply to Ben Sharp) Just had a similar problem with mine, the garage man thought it would most likely be a broken road spring which is common on focus's. Turned out to be the CV joint.

Spent a tonne of money changing my CV joints. Turned out to be a bearing. Ford hubs don't necessarily conform to the woggle test. The dodgy bearning on mind felt true and tight when woggled.
gethin_allen on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:
Defo sounds like the bearing. The focus front bearings are pressed onto the stud and into the hub. You need a press to do it and you normally need to take the assembly off the car to do it. This is why it's costly because there are numerous bolts, all of which are rusty and seized full of crap so are a pain to shift.
Ben Sharp - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to LastBoyScout: Cheers everyone, interesting that people have had bearings go on foci without any outward sign that they're bad. I thought about getting a second hand hub with a bearing already in it and swapping it over but if it's probably going to go again I might try take the hub off and take it down to the garage to see if they can press the bearing for me. A morning with a can off penetrant spray and a bit of patience beats 140!
butteredfrog - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

The hub nut preloads the bearing, when you re-assemble it will need torqueing up to about 280NM, (technical term is FT).
Ben Sharp - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to butteredfrog: I knew I didn't have a torque wrench that went up high enough but wasn't quite sure what the torque was. Was hoping to get away with a cheater bar on the end of a wrench and just doing it as tight as I could. Is it worth investing in a torque wrench that will go up high enough?
Jim C - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:
> (In reply to butteredfrog) I knew I didn't have a torque wrench that went up high enough but wasn't quite sure what the torque was. Was hoping to get away with a cheater bar on the end of a wrench and just doing it as tight as I could. Is it worth investing in a torque wrench that will go up high enough?

Somewhere in my shed is a 3 foot long torque wrench along with other oversize tools of my late father's kit. You don't live near Loch Lomond do you ?
Ben Sharp - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Jim C: Hey Jim, cheers for the offer but unfortunately not, I can add that to one of the many reasons I wish I lived further up north!
gethin_allen on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:
When I did the rear wheel bearings on my focus I bought new drums with the bearings already pressed in and made do with a wrench that went up to 190 Nm. The rears only need 230 Nm so I gave it 190 and then a fraction more. Nothing has fallen off yet. 280 Nm for the front may be a bit too much to guess at.
Tall Clare - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to gethin_allen:

My brother overtightened a rear wheel bearing on a Mk 1 Golf years ago and the wheel sheared off at 80mph... Oops...
Ben Sharp - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: Ouch, the focus forums seem to suggest 316nm for the front.
altirando - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp: I believe the Focus has the same basic platform as my Volvo coupe. I had an irritating churning noise which sounded like a wheel bearing but turned out to be a drive shaft bearing.

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