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'94 Buick LeSabre front-end Vibration

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New User

Mar 15, 2010, 1:53 AM

Post #1 of 6 (5531 views)
'94 Buick LeSabre front-end Vibration Sign In

Hi all,

I have a 1994 Buick LeSabre Custom with a 3800 V6 and 120k miles. My problem is a vibration that is coming from the front-end. A little more specific, the front driver side. I have new tires and of course they were balanced on the wheel before they were mounted. I had the vibration before I got the new tires.

The vibration is slight but noticeable when I am up to highway speeds (55 - 65 mph) but gets worse when I apply the brakes. I am thinking the rotors may be warped because I have had them machined once and I have braked hard a couple times. They might have got too hot and warped. Could they be warped enough to where they vibrate just from high-speed rotation?

I also thought about the wheel bearing assembly but wouldn't I hear a roaring noise if that was going bad?

The CV axles don't clunk or make noise and the boots are dry and far as I can tell crack free.

I haven't yet checked any chassis pieces for wear or damage, that is on my list though. I am spending my spring break doctoring my car :-/

Any feedback would be much appreciated.
1994 Buick Lesabre Custom
Several years auto parts experience

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator

Mar 15, 2010, 4:39 AM

Post #2 of 6 (5001 views)
Re: '94 Buick LeSabre front-end Vibration [In reply to] Sign In

Thoughts on that:

Brake could be the issue. 1. If rotor is that warped it would shake a bit or more when applied. Also - rust can build up between rotor and hub such that rotor can't set true to hub. Spin wheel while hoisted and watch rim for trueness. If off, rotate/swap with a good one and see if problem follows wheel or location. If known good rim is untrue at the suspect location brake hub, bearing issue (they usually make noise first but not a promise on that) should be fixed, replaced,

Long retired now

New User

Mar 23, 2010, 4:22 PM

Post #3 of 6 (4419 views)
Re: '94 Buick LeSabre front-end Vibration [In reply to] Sign In

Thanks for the advice.

I did go out, jacked it up, and took the wheel off to see if I could find anything strange.

I did, however, grab the wheel while the car was up and shake it. The steering was locked into place. The wheel and rotor moved a little when I did this. The noise it made sounded akin to the thumping noise I hear going down the road. Makes me wonder about the bearing.

I grabbed a wheel on the other side and tried to shake it....wouldn't budge.

Also, the holes on my rotor were nearly a 1/4" bigger than the wheel studs. There's something not right about that to me.

I am just trying to pinpoint this problem because I don't want it to get worse. I am also trying to get my car to last me through the rest of college.
1994 Buick Lesabre Custom
Several years auto parts experience

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator

Mar 24, 2010, 2:10 AM

Post #4 of 6 (4413 views)
Re: '94 Buick LeSabre front-end Vibration [In reply to] Sign In

OK: The holes for the studs thru the rotor are bigger but 1/4 inch seems excessive. Know that the lug nuts are actually holding the rotor to the hub/wheel bearing which is a sealed unit. Those bearings don't usually show freeplay so much as make noise like growling, roughness on turns to begin with but certainly can fail beyond that.

You need to take the caliper off to remove the rotor and a bracket on some to clear out debris if any that could be in between hub and rotor if that's the issue at all. It's common if rusty and will allow wobble like an untrue wheel which it becomes and tire can wear into that pattern if not too noticeable AND can give a false sense that wheel lugs are actually tightened enough.

Checking front end parts is a procedure of what can move while hoisted from what. When in doubt get help to verify parts are safe. There's bearing, ball joint, out and inner tie rods and the strut. Imperfections of the wheel and tire will be exacerbated by worn parts/bad parts and those can cause the imperfections of the tire.

This is safety stuff so don't be afraid to get some hands on help when unsure how to test or check items out,

Long retired now

New User

Apr 8, 2010, 5:30 PM

Post #5 of 6 (4378 views)
Re: '94 Buick LeSabre front-end Vibration [In reply to] Sign In

I've been too poor and too busy to get any work done lately. Plus, I am still doing some research on the matter. It didn't occur to me to get on YouTube and look up some of the symptoms I am having with my car. It would have been helpful with my last post.

This is what the affected wheel does with me:

Mine is not that bad but it is loose.

I am job searching for the summer. I have an interview with AutoZone Saturday. I am going to feel weird not working at my beloved NAPA but the hours are better (if I get to work there).

I am going to save up and go home to where I know some trustworthy folks at a shop and get a hands on professional opinion...and possibly a new wheel bearing assembly.

1994 Buick Lesabre Custom
Several years auto parts experience

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator

Apr 8, 2010, 10:00 PM

Post #6 of 6 (4372 views)
Re: '94 Buick LeSabre front-end Vibration [In reply to] Sign In

I don't necessarily agree with that video's suggestions or completeness. A wheel bearing on this type shouldn't have free-play at all or would be about to fall off! One (IMO) doesn't mean the other has to be replaced either as suggested there but checking it would be in order.

By the time a wheel bearing (hub assembly on this car) is that bad it's dangerous. Most wheel bearings are a noise first made worse when steering one way vs the other and not so much a vibration but noise.

Vibration could be anything that moves, tire, wheel brake parts dragging or warped - other surprises possible. Worn joints in front end don't make vibrations alone but do make them or any feel that much worse. It's not prudent to wait to find out exactly what that is.

Good luck with the job hunt,

Long retired now

'94 Buick LeSabre front-end Vibration

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