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98 CRV with front left wheel screeching, begining at low speeds

My '98 Honda CRV with 190k miles has begun to make a curious sort of noise. I noticed a sort of humming noise coming from in front and somewhat to the left of the steering wheel a couple weeks ago, but could never get it to happen while I had the hood up in my driveway. The other day I rolled down the window and drove slowly around my neighborhood to figure out what made the noise happen.

First thing I learned is that it is much louder than I initially thought. And it sounds like a sort of screeching metal on metal sound, with a sort of humming. It always starts when I am moving slowly, such as when starting from a stop at a stop light, or going very slowly around the neighborhood. Turning the steering wheel seems to aggravate it, and make it more likely to start screeching. It will begin while driving straight, however. Once the noise begins, it stays until I come back to a complete stop. I even tried stopping it by putting it in neutral and using the parking brake, and no difference, so nothing to do with the brakes. The brake rotors were also turned by the previous owner before selling it. My first guess would be a CV joint, because the boot on that wheel is not sealed properly. But my father, in his experience, says bad CV joints could make the steering feel more loose, and when starting and stopping you could feel some slop, neither of which he could detect when driving it. Steering feels tight, there is no play, and I have not been able to detect any other deficiency besides that awful noise.

So, is this a CV joint? A wheel bearing? Is it something else I have not thought of? And, how difficult are these to replace yourself with a good set of tools?

Sounds like the power steering pump. My sisters CRV had the same type of noise and that’s what it turned out to be. CV joints will make a “clunk,clunk” noise. Have you checked the fluid level in it?

I tell you what it sounds like the front brake pad ware sensors are hitting the rotor… Its there to let you know your brake pads are getting low… Useing the parking brake would not make this sound go away as the parking brake activates the rear brakes not the front… Does it go away if you hit the brakes and start again when you let off of them??

I’m with you gsrag. That was my thought too.

To the OP: have the brakes checked. Post back wiith the results.

I just replaced all of the brake shoes front and back about a month ago. And the parking brake only operates the rear brakes anyway, no where near the source of the noise. I will double check them all in the morning, but I am doubtful that is the issue.

I’m not so sure about the power steering pump either. My understanding is that the power steering pump is running whenever the engine is, and I have tried revving the engine and idling it while parked to no avail.

The noise you hear might be from a defective front wheel bearing.

To check for this, raise the front tires off the ground. Grasp the tires at the 6:00 oclock and 12:00 oclock positions and try rocking the tires in and out to check for play in the bearing. If either of the tires can be rocked in and out that bearing is worn.


I think the noise is coming from an anti-rattle clip for the front brake pads. If the anti-rattle clips are not installed properly, they can rub on the rotor and make a metallic screeching sound. Another possibility is that you have a problem with a wheel bearing, which can also cause the brake rotor to rub on the anti-rattle clips, and could cause that humming sound you describe. I would waste no time in getting this car looked at and repaired. Brake and wheel problems should not be put off.

I think any of the things mentioned above are possible. Everything needs to now be carefully inspected.

I haven’t had time to pull the whole wheel off to check the brake anti-rattle clip. But I did jack it up, and found two things:

  1. there is no play when pushing and pulling at 6 and 12. So probably not a wheel bearing.

  2. there IS a lot of play turning the wheel left and right. I got underneath while turning the wheel, and watched the axel. The point of play is in the center, where the front axels go into the differential. I jacked up both sides and found the same thing: the play isn’t in any of the CV joints, its in the center. I don’t know if this is normal (I suspect it isn’t) but it doesn’t look good.

Your front axles have inner CV joints designed specifically to allow the axles to move in and out (and thereby change length) when you turn or when the wheels go up & down. As the steering and/or the suspension goes through its geometric changes when the wheels move, the axle has to change length, and that will appear as the axle moving in & out.

Are you sure that’s not what you’re observing?

Yes. The slop is entirely rotary. The other suspension components stop me from moving it in and out by hand. I can rotate one wheel 10 or 15 degrees before encountering resistance, but the entire axel from the wheel into the gearbox appears to move in unison, and without delay.

That’s normal movement.
Good obsevation, though. You’re perhaps the first poster I can remember that’s picked up on that movement.