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02 Saturn SC2- loud humming noise

Hello everyone and thank you for viewing my post.

I have a 02 Saturn SC2 and it seems that when I hit 40, there is this loud humming that starts up. It gets louder when I speed up and isn’t as loud when I slow down or am going below 40. One of my friends said she thinks it has something to do with the tires or wheels. I am just the type of girl who knows nothing about cars and who overcharged by mechanics so I would like to know what I can about it so I can avoid being ripped off.


As the hum occurs, put the transmission into N for neutral (lift foot from gas pedal). Does the hum change?

Wheels or tires is a pretty good bet.

Does the noise change or stop when you turn? If so I would have the wheel bearings inspected.

You can also suspect a problem with tires. How old are they? Do they look as if they have any kind of strange wear pattern on them?

There are other things - can you tell where the sound is coming from?

Can I put my car in neutral when going over 40??

Three tires are almost 5 years old and one tire is 3 years old. I don’t notice any strange wear patterns on them.

It sounds like the noise is coming from the front of the car.

Yes. If its manual use the clutch as you normal would. If an automatic just shift. Don’t do it for long - just long enough to see if the sound changes.

sound doesn’t change. and actually, there is still a hum when I’m at lower speeds, it just gets REALLY loud at higher speeds

What you probably have is irregular tire wear. Irregular wear is caused by misalignment and aggravated by insufficient inflation pressure and insufficient rotation practices.

So rotate your tires and see if the humming changes. It might get worse, but now the tire are in a position where a new wear pattern will develop. This may take thousands of miles to completely erase the old wear pattern, but keeping the tire in the same position guarrantees the noise will get worse.

However, it is possible that rotating your tires will not completely erase the old wear pattern, in which case buying new tires is your only option.

But you need to address the cause - get an alignment.

See the post below about tire wear - but I’m still going to bet on a wheel bearing. Does the sound change/maybe stop briefly if you turn one way or the other?

Either way you need a good front end shop to check out your tires & alignment and check your wheel bearings for problems. Bad wheel bearings get really dangerous.

Thank you everyone! I take it in tomorrow, more confident than I have EVER been entering an auto repair shop! I’ll keep you posted!!