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      06-28-2018, 01:42 PM   #1
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Vibration like bad bearings, but I feel it braking too. Thanks for any help

I bought a 2009 328xi E90 sedan automatic a few months ago from a friend. It had 103,000 miles on it and seems like it's in great shape. After a few days I started to notice a vibration that starts at 20 mph, and continues to speed up and get louder as I go faster. If I hit the brakes hard, I get a lot of pedal pulsation that has the same frequency as the vibration (womp-womp-womp-... especially noticeable at higher speeds, like 60 mph, but very subtle at low speeds). I've put a thousand miles on the car now, and the vibration is louder and stronger than before.

I've jacked up the car and tugged at the wheels to feel for play, but I couldn't find any play (3 and 9, and 6 and 12 o'clock). I spun the wheels, expecting to feel a warped rotor, but the rotors spun smooth through the pads and the rotor wear looks even. I rubbed the outside of the tires while they were spinning, but didn't find any cupping.

The car has Pirelli run flats on it, and the rears are looking worn. I'm planning on putting on my friend's winter wheels to rule out a bent wheel, or bad tires.

I'll get a dial indicator out and measure rotor run-out this weekend. How much run-out is acceptable? Can .005" run-out cause something like this?

I bought a pair of *** wheel bearings, and I'm ready to install them, but I'm hesitating because the sound/vibration doesn't change when I take a hard left or a hard right, because I didn't feel any play in the wheels, and because I don't think bad bearings could generate this brake pedal pulsation. Do you guys think it's the wheel bearings?

If the run-out is within spec, is there something else that could cause this vibration, and pedal pulsation? I read a thread where E36graduate was saying his vibration happened because the front KW V1 struts were shot. Could a strut do this? How do I check if a strut is toast?

I don't notice the vibration being any different if I'm accelerating, or decelerating. There are no clunks, and no clicking noises.

Thanks for any advice.
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      06-28-2018, 04:01 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElevenEleven View Post
I bought a 2009 328xi E90 sedan automatic a few months ago from a friend. It had 103,000 miles on it and seems like it's in great shape. After a few days I started to notice a vibration that starts at 20 mph, and continues to speed up and get louder as I go faster. If I hit the brakes hard, I get a lot of pedal pulsation that has the same frequency as the vibration (womp-womp-womp-... especially noticeable at higher speeds, like 60 mph, but very subtle at low speeds). I've put a thousand miles on the car now, and the vibration is louder and stronger than before.

I've jacked up the car and tugged at the wheels to feel for play, but I couldn't find any play (3 and 9, and 6 and 12 o'clock). I spun the wheels, expecting to feel a warped rotor, but the rotors spun smooth through the pads and the rotor wear looks even. I rubbed the outside of the tires while they were spinning, but didn't find any cupping.

The car has Pirelli run flats on it, and the rears are looking worn. I'm planning on putting on my friend's winter wheels to rule out a bent wheel, or bad tires.

I'll get a dial indicator out and measure rotor run-out this weekend. How much run-out is acceptable? Can .005" run-out cause something like this?

I bought a pair of *** wheel bearings, and I'm ready to install them, but I'm hesitating because the sound/vibration doesn't change when I take a hard left or a hard right, because I didn't feel any play in the wheels, and because I don't think bad bearings could generate this brake pedal pulsation. Do you guys think it's the wheel bearings?

If the run-out is within spec, is there something else that could cause this vibration, and pedal pulsation? I read a thread where E36graduate was saying his vibration happened because the front KW V1 struts were shot. Could a strut do this? How do I check if a strut is toast?

I don't notice the vibration being any different if I'm accelerating, or decelerating. There are no clunks, and no clicking noises.

Thanks for any advice.
Could be your thrust rod/front control arm bushings. To test this, have someone roll the car at about 5mph and then get on the brakes hard. If the bushings are worn you will see the front wheels do a vertical "hop". As the bushings start to go out, they are only noticeable on hard braking, then all braking, then eventually at certain speeds.
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      06-29-2018, 09:56 AM   #3
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Swapping wheels/tires is the easiest thing to do first. If your issue persists, continue diagnosing with the above advice.
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      07-03-2018, 10:39 AM   #4
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I tried some 5 mph hard breaking, but didn't see any wheel hop. I moved on to swapping wheels.

I had trouble just getting the wheels off. They were welded to the hubs with New England corrosion. It took so long to clean out all that corrosion, I was only able to swap the left rear with the front right. I measured the runout on both, and the front right was at .001", and the left rear was .004" I was hoping that the build up of corrosion/oxide interfered with someone putting the wheels on, and the wheel wasn't mounted flush, but the vibration and pulsing was still there.

I took it for a drive and initially it seemed better, but after 10 minutes it was making a lot of noise (jet engine). I did four 60 mph brake tests, and I was still getting lots of pedal pulsing, but it seems to be less if I really brake hard. The stopping distances are great.

I'll try to put my friend's 535xi wheel on this week.

Maybe I've got more than one problem. A warped rotor and bad front bearing might be the whole story. Or maybe it's just these Pirelli run flats.

I also saw Junious722 posted, " the culprit may be the flex disc and the center bearing." Anyone swap that out, and cure their vibrations?

I'll change wheels and tires and report back. Let me know if you've got a good guess.

Last edited by ElevenEleven; 07-27-2018 at 09:32 PM.
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      07-05-2018, 10:27 AM   #5
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My friend only had wheels, no tires. So I won't get to try swapping out my wheels and tires.

The noise level has gone up, but there still is little change when I go around a turn, left or right, which makes me worried it's not wheel bearings. Has anyone else experienced very noisy wheel bearings that didn't have any significant play, and didn't sound different during hard cornering?
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      07-16-2018, 06:25 PM   #6
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I started to replace the wheel bearings, but noticed oil and dirt caked on the side of the Front Differential below the left bearing. When I pushed up on the axle where it attaches to the diff, I noticed more play than I expected. Have I found the bad bearing?

I'm going to drain and replace the oil in the diff, and see if that has any effect on the noise. Has anyone had a lot of womp womp noise (40-50 mph is really loud), and fixed it by changing the front differential?

Is the oil leak unusual?

Should I be able to see play in the connection between the axle and the diff?

Thanks!
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      07-24-2018, 08:24 AM   #7
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Womp womp noise... haha that's actually a great description. I believe you are correct. I had the same sound on a bad bearing for a different car. Turned out I had a bent drive axle (from off roading at 60mph) that trashed the bearing.
I think the play is normal so the suspension can move up and down.
The leaking oil... probably not.
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      07-25-2018, 09:16 AM   #8
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I have this EXACT same issue. I ordered two new front hubs/bearings but I think I might have also damaged the bushings.
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      07-25-2018, 10:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shaginwagon13 View Post
I have this EXACT same issue. I ordered two new front hubs/bearings but I think I might have also damaged the bushings.
What year is your 335i ShaginWagon13? How many miles? Which bushings do you think you damaged?
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      07-26-2018, 12:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElevenEleven View Post
What year is your 335i ShaginWagon13? How many miles? Which bushings do you think you damaged?
2008 N54

299,891 km as of this morning. Almost at 300k.

The roads here in Toronto are insanely bad. That goes for both highway roads and streets. Summers you would think would be better than winters... not the case. Its been so hot here this summer that the asphalt has started to buckle and/or ride up in certain spots causing 2-3" sudden speed bumps while your driving along at 65 mph (120 km/h for us Canadians) and when your heading in an out of the city twice a day, its only a matter of time really.

I hit a very large out hole this week and as soon as I hit it I knew something was off on my front right side. The steering wheel felt 'loose', the car wouldn't drive straight (it would follow any and all changes in the road). I know its not my alignment I got that done 3 weeks ago and it was dead straight after I had it done.

I have new front bushings and hubs I was planning to install, and I feel like I damaged the front right control arm or bushing.
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      07-26-2018, 12:59 PM   #11
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Update: I tried 3 things. Rear rotors, added oil to front differential, and replaced front left wheel bearing. None of them had any effect on the womp womp noise at 45 mph. I did notice today that the noise is almost gone when I speed up to 52. Maybe it's these worn out P7 runflats.

The rear rotors had .004" of runout, they were worn, and the parking brake surface was really baddddly rusted, so I removed and replaced. There had been some brake pedal pulsing during high speed braking, and that is now gone, but the rotors had no effect on the womp womp.

I noticed that there has been some oil leaking from the left side of the front differential where the left axle connects to it, so I topped it up. It was down about 200 ml. It had not effect on the womp womp noise.

I called a shop that the previous owner had used and they said to just bring it by and that they would determine what is wrong and then I can decide how to deal with it. The owner drives the car a few miles with me and says that it is the front left wheel bearing making this noise. I pointed out that there is no play in that wheel when it's jacked up, and that the noise doesn't get worse when I make a hard right or a hard left. He said that sometimes the wheel bearing is bad even though these things are true. I also pointed out that I saw the oil coming out of the diff. He said that this is cut and dried -- bad left front wheel bearing. Yesterday he replaced the wheel bearing, and unfortunately he was wrong, it had no effect on the womp womp noise.

The other mechanic there pointed out that my tires are "chopped", and that could cause the problem. I've got some nearly bald P7 runflats on there, and I could feel that the tread was chopped on the inside edge. Maybe I just need to get a set of tires.

He also said that the tires are chopped because the shocks and struts are worn out. Does anyone have experience with tires making as much noise as a bad bearing? And what causes tires to have a saw tooth (chopped) surface on the inside tread? Do worn shocks and struts cause chopped tires?

Last edited by ElevenEleven; 07-26-2018 at 06:24 PM.
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      07-27-2018, 12:46 AM   #12
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Sounds like you are describing cupped tires? Almost like the tires have a wave texture. This can definitely cause a lot of noise and make that wahwahwah noise that increases in cadence as car speed increases. Bad struts are a very common cause for this type of wear.
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      07-27-2018, 09:35 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElevenEleven View Post
Update: I tried 3 things. Rear rotors, added oil to front differential, and replaced front left wheel bearing. None of them had any effect on the womp womp noise at 45 mph. I did notice today that the noise is almost gone when I speed up to 52. Maybe it's these worn out P7 runflats.

The rear rotors had .004" of runout, they were worn, and the parking brake surface was really baddddly rusted, so I removed and replaced. There had been some brake pedal pulsing during high speed braking, and that is now gone, but the rotors had no effect on the womp womp.

I noticed that there has been some oil leaking from the left side of the front differential where the left axle connects to it, so I topped it up. It was down about 200 ml. It had not effect on the womp womp noise.

I called a shop that the previous owner had used and they said to just bring it by and that they would determine what is wrong and then I can decide how to deal with it. The owner drives the car a few miles with me and says that it is the front left wheel bearing making this noise. I pointed out that there is no play in that wheel when it's jacked up, and that the noise doesn't get worse when I make a hard right or a hard left. He said that sometimes the wheel bearing is bad even though these things are true. I also pointed out that I saw the oil coming out of the diff. He said that this is cut and dried -- bad left front wheel bearing. Yesterday he replaced the wheel bearing, and unfortunately he was wrong, it had no effect on the womp womp noise.

The other mechanic there pointed out that my tires are "chopped", and that could cause the problem. I've got some nearly bald P7 runflats on there, and I could feel that the tread was chopped on the inside edge. Maybe I just need to get a set of tires.

He also said that the tires are chopped because the shocks and struts are worn out. Does anyone have experience with tires making as much noise as a bad bearing? And what causes tires to have a saw tooth (chopped) surface on the inside tread? Do worn shocks and struts cause chopped tires?
Did you have the tires checked for balance ?
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      07-27-2018, 12:22 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Does anyone have experience with tires making as much noise as a bad bearing?
YES

Have you tried rotating the tire yet? If the womp womp noise moves with the tire, you've found your culprit. Since your issue is speed-specific, I'm guessing that's likely your problem. A road force balancer would tell you for sure.

Here's a neat article I came across recently that should be a good read:
http://www.brakeandfrontend.com/driv...th-vibrations/
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      07-29-2018, 10:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Koolsilver View Post
Sounds like you are describing cupped tires? Almost like the tires have a wave texture. This can definitely cause a lot of noise and make that wahwahwah noise that increases in cadence as car speed increases. Bad struts are a very common cause for this type of wear.
Thanks Koolsilver. These tires have a saw tooth shape to each block of tread on the inside of each tire. The mechanic called it chopped. This article calls it Heel/Toe wear.

"When you run your hand over the tread blocks, they will feel like saw teeth."
https://www.bridgestonetire.com/trea...ad-wear-causes

I filled all 4 tires to 60 psi today to see if I ran on the flat tread in the center if it would change the growling noise, and it did. It nearly eliminated it. I've order 4 new Pirelli P Zeros, and will get an alignment at the dealer.

I've backed the pressure back down to normal now. I only drove it a few miles that way.
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      07-29-2018, 10:51 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FCobra94 View Post
YES

Have you tried rotating the tire yet? If the womp womp noise moves with the tire, you've found your culprit. Since your issue is speed-specific, I'm guessing that's likely your problem. A road force balancer would tell you for sure.

Here's a neat article I came across recently that should be a good read:
http://www.brakeandfrontend.com/driv...th-vibrations/

Thanks FCobra. Great article. I ordered new tires, and will get an alignment done.
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      08-03-2018, 05:35 PM   #17
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I put on the 225 40 R18s (PZero) yesterday, problem solved!
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      08-04-2018, 05:23 PM   #18
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Best option before spending much more time on it

Given your description of the tires, I would have changed the tires out first thing before doing the bearing job. I also am wondering if your new tires are going to rub and get chopped as well, are they the original size? I was not happy with the ride and noise of the run flats and went with standard Michelin Pilot Exalto. The handling is excellent. Yes, I might get stranded on the side of the road with a flat but replacing tires when they start to age is a good investment IMHO.
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      08-07-2018, 11:49 PM   #19
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Thanks. You're totally right, it would've been smart to change the tires first.

The new wider 18x8" wheels and tires fit great and are nowhere near rubbing on anything. The saw tooth wear pattern was probably due to the toe-in being wrong (see the Bridgestone link above). I'm having the dealer do an alignment tomorrow morning, so hopefully these tires won't develop the same problem.
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