I have a couple of questions regarding my car, which I listed below. The car is a 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe AWD with 87k miles.
- Misaligned Rear Wheel
Less than 2 years ago, the passenger-side (right) rear wheel looked a little tilted inward from the top. So I took it to the tire shop and they aligned all 4 wheels. At that time, they said that wheel was way out of alignment and that they couldn’t align it 100% back, but they did as much as they could. Their technician said that the knuckle of that wheel is broken. They said they didn’t have that part and that I should drive the car for a few months and bring it back to check for uneven tire wear and tear before deciding to replace the knuckle.
Sometime later, when I noticed that the car’s gas mileage dropped by around 2 miles/gallon I took it in for alignment service again. I asked them to check for a broken knuckle and they said they didn’t find anything broken and don’t know why the first technician mentioned that. Also, there was no uneven wear and tear on the tires, which was good. After they re-aligned the wheels and rotated the tires, I measured the gas mileage and found that it improved a lot and is back now at its normal value (around 21.5 miles/gal when driving freeway mostly). I included below the alignment degrees from the last service for the left and right rear wheels (the right one is the damaged one, but I included the left one too for comparison):
** Rear Right (damaged wheel)
[Camber] Actual: 0.2, Before: 0.5
[Toe] Actual: 0.05, Before: 0.22
** Rear Left
[Camber] Actual: -0.1, Before: -0.1
[Toe] Actual: 0.04, Before: 0.07
**** Specified Range (this is the acceptable range)**
[Camber] Actual: -0.5 to 0.5
[Toe] -0.08 to 0.08
After this second alignment, it looks like the rear wheel is within the specified range. The toe on it was previously 0.22, which was out of the range maximum of 0.08.
I am worried if indeed something is broken on that back wheel and that the tire shop is not diagnosing the damage properly. I mentioned this to the dealer car shop and they said not to worry because misaligned wheels in the rear don’t cause damage to the car as much as misaligned front wheels. But what if there is damage that will one day cause my rear wheel to suddenly dislocate and cause a car accident? Anyone has experience with such a misalignment? I probably should take it to another tire/car shop for another diagnosis.
- Louder Engine Noise
Another issue with the car is the loud engine noise which started 2-3 years ago. It makes a tapping noise (similar to the old VW beetle cars). It didn’t make this noise before and its engine used to be quiet. I searched on this forum and saw some answers saying that something might be wrong in the valvetrain system, and the most likely cause seems to be low oil pressure due to a bad oil pump.
I did mention my concern about the loud engine to the dealer’s car shop last time, and the advisor there said that I shouldn’t worry about it. However, from what I heard from others and from my online search, it is just the opposite. Loud or unusual noise in the engine could mean that something is damaged in the engine. Now I am considering taking this car to another car shop. The only issue is that private car shops don’t always have parts for Hyundai, so I should check with them first before making an appointment.
Please let me know if you have any advice on those two issues and what you think is best to do in those cases. The timing belt is due for replacement and so I am really wondering whether it’s time for me to just sell this car and stop doing further maintenance. I wanted to keep the car for a couple more years because it has new tires and brakes (in addition to other parts I replaced recently) and it drives well, but I don’t want to worry about future problems.