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Old 03-12-2017, 08:36 AM   #1
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Unhappy Very loud groan/droning sound from back end - help?

Hey guys, wondering if anyone has any ideas or suggestions for a problem I've had for over a year: my all-stock 2001 Boxster S Manual with 45K miles produces a VERY LOUD low pitched sound at medium to high speeds. The best words I can think of to describe the sound is a constant pitch drone or groaning. It does not sound like clunking, clicking, vibrating, pulsing, or screaching. The loudness of the drone correlates to the speed of the vehicle, not the RPMs of the engine (i.e. at highway speed, I can take it out of gear and let the engine go to idle RPMs, but this has zero impact on the loudness of the noise). Based on this, I don't believe the noise is related to the engine, exhaust, or anything driven by the serpentine belt. Everything else I can think of:
  • Noise started about 1.5 years ago
  • 1 year ago, I found that both rear axle CV joint boots had torn. I removed and rebuilt both axles. This had zero effect on the noise.
  • 1 year ago, I replaced the differential fluid. The fluid looked normal, zero particles or metal found in the used fluid. This had zero effect on the noise.
  • A couple of weeks ago, I noticed the tread on my rear tires was low, so I had brand new tires installed. No effect on noise.
  • I don't think it's a wheel bearing because the noise definitely does not sound like metal on metal.
  • It sounds like it's coming from the rear of the car.
  • I can't hear the noise at all below 40MPH. Starting at 40MPH, the noise becomes perceptible and the volume increases with increasing speed.
  • There is no noticable vibration at all in the cabin

What does that even leave as a possibility? The differential going out? Something else wrong with a rear axle? A suspension component lose or broken? I'm really at my wits end here. Has anyone else experienced this before?
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Old 03-12-2017, 10:34 AM   #2
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Wheel bearing.
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Old 03-12-2017, 06:26 PM   #3
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Yup wheel bearing. If it's really loud get it fixed before it siezes.
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Old 03-13-2017, 02:51 PM   #4
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3X on the wheel bearing.
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Old 03-13-2017, 05:18 PM   #5
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My vote goes to...wheel bearing!
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Old 03-13-2017, 07:22 PM   #6
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I guess that was my bad on assuming a failing wheel bearing had to make a screaching/grinding noise!

This evening, I was trying to figure out which bearing it was. I jacked the car up and tried to see if any wheels had any play. Absolutely nothing. Every wheel was very solid on the hub (except for the fronts which have a little bit of steering play anyway). I tried rotating each wheel, and they all seemed to rotate quite freely. None of them made any notable noise except for a bit of the brake pad rubbing against the rotor. Finally after Googling around I came upon a suggestion to try holding onto the spring while rotating the tire. First three tires were perfectly smooth, could feel no vibration in the spring. Finally on the last tire, I felt vibration being transmitted into the spring while rotating that tire.

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Old 03-14-2017, 05:14 AM   #7
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There is also an easier way to determine which side the bad wheel bearing is on. Drive the car aggressive and turn right and left, it loads and unloads the tire, if turning left the noise goes away it's your left side as that tire has less load on it in a left turn.
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Old 03-21-2017, 11:34 AM   #8
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Just finished replacing the rear wheel bearings. AT LAST THE NOISE IS GONE! Thanks for the advice guys
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