'05 Ford Freestyle - whine & steering wheel vibrations

Over the past few days, I’ve noticed a whine that seems to increase/decrease relative to the speed of the vehicle. I can also feel a slight vibration in the steering wheel. Today we could smell a burning or plastic-like odor when we got out of the car. Help - what’s the problem??

You’ll really need to say more about each of these things since there is a really long list of things that could be at issue, and it could be a list for each for separately. Do you have any reason to connect all three things? E.g. did the vibration and whine both show up at the same time.

Describe the whine better and where it seems to be coming from. Other than speed, what else changes it, if anything?

Is the vibration new? When do you get it? Acceleration? Braking? Just cruising? High speed? Low speed? etc.

Either way you just need a mechanic to drive the thing and look it over. As I said, the list is long.

The whine and the vibration began at the same point in time and occur simultaneously. I seem to notice it more (but not exclusively) when rounding a bend. With the car windows open, the whine seems to come from the passenger side. This is all while driving at relatively low speeds around town, say 25-40 mph.

If you round a bend the other way does the noise diminish or disappear briefly?

Either way, have someone check your wheel bearings - that won’t produce a burning plastic smell, but it can give you vibration and whine.

Of course, you should also just have a quick look inside the wheel wells to see if perhaps there is a loose piece of shielding rubbing on a tire - that could whine and smell like burning plastic, but is unlikely to produce much by way of a steering wheel vibration (unless it is very minor).