Car getting loud at highway speeds

My 2002 Chevy Cavalier seems to be getting quite loud on the highway. It is from the front of the car and I can feel some high frequency vibration in the steering wheel. I don’ think it is the engine because that sounds normal when at any rmp when I’m parket or on slower roads. Is this something I should be concerned about and can I get it fixed?

Yes, you should be concerned. Get it checked out before something breaks and you lose control. The things up front that are common causes of sounds like this are old tires that are beginning to separate inside, bad wheel bearings and bad CV joints. If either of these completely fails even at street speeds can cause instant loss of control.

I agree withe BK. I’d guess tires, but that’s just a guess. Have someone check it out.

Noise means problems. Get it checked out by a good mechanic.

My guess is your tires are getting noisy as they wear more and more. Some become quite loud when they near the end of their useful lives. The vibration might mean the wheels need to be balanced, aligned, or both.

You can count this as another vote for the tires being the prime suspect.

Please do not allow yourself to think that the treads look “okay”, and that as a result, the tires do not need to be replaced. Long before tires show the wear indicators molded into the tread, they begin to exhibit problems like hydroplaning on wet roads and increased road noise at high speed.

As BustedKnuckles pointed out, it is possible that wheel bearings or CV joints could be at fault, but I would suggest that you first think about the tires.

Have you rotated your tires recently? It is possible that when you cross rotate radials they will do this kind of thing, because they were broken in with the stress on the fibers in the opposite direction and they set that way. Loose shocks can also cause this kind of vibration, and noise, as can worn or bent stearing linkages. At any rate go get it checked out sooner than later, this noise is a warning of worse trouble if you dont.

I did have the tires rotated a few months ago, replaced some bearings, and got aligned. I’m going back today to check it out, I’ll reply when I get answers.


So it turns out that the wheel bearings that I had replaced months ago where bad. I went back to Brakes Plus of Boulder/Superior and they saw my service history and replaced them both for free under warrenty.

The follow up report is greatly appreciated.

And don’t be surprised if it happens again. There are a few reasons that I say that, and the root reason has to do with “Brakes Plus” - tho I’ve not heard of it I’m assuming it is a kind of corporate chain type shop. These are often staffed by undertrained and underexperienced techs. There is a right way to install wheel bearings so that they have just the right amount of torque on them and this varies by vehicle. Many more untrained people will leave them too tight or too loose and they go downhill quickly. This type of shop will probably also tend to use cheaper parts.

I hope for your sake that this is the end of it. However, if the trouble comes back you might actually save yourself some aggravation by finding a good, non-corporate chain, local and independent shop to re-do them next time.

And sincerely, for your sake I hope they make me eat my words.

Brakes Plus is a more local family-owned chain. I don’t know how many stores they actually have but they are always very honest and won’t screw you over. I think they are trainned as well but its hard to say what parts they use. So far I’ve only heard good things about them and have had all good experiences with them. Of course there may be bad cases I’ve not heard about but I wouldn’t classify them as a Midas who attempted to cheat me in the past.