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Grinding noise, front passenger side of 2004 Focus, manual

I’ve had a grinding noise coming from the front passenger side, sounds like the wheel area of the car, for many months. I’ve driven thousands of miles on it like this, mostly because I’m broke and the car otherwise runs fine, but also because when I’ve taken it to mechanics, they are stumped.

I took it to a shop about a year ago and he had it for a week, had different specialists look at it and ruled out anything mechanical (wheel bearing, etc.) In the end, he threw up his hands and didn’t want to give me any more free labor for his non-diagnosis, and thought he ruled out everything but the transmission. I took it to a transmission shop recently, and the guy ruled out right away that it was the transmission. He tried to diagnose the problem and was stumped too.

Here’s what it is doing. It makes a grinding noise around the front passenger wheel when I accelerate. Only when I accelerate. It seems to be more active when it is cold, and after I’ve been driving the car for about an hour or so, it goes away. It used to only really happen when taking right-hand turns, and that is still when it is at its worst, but now it does it anytime. However–some days it is very bad and some days very light. One day–of course the day I designated to take it to the shop–it stopped altogether and drove like new. Just until I got it home. It is worse in low gears, and used to only happen in first, second and third, but now on an active day I can hear it on the interstate in fifth gear.

The shops I’ve taken it to can’t seem to figure out what it is. Reading threads online, I’ve learned that people with similar problems found the problem was a bad passenger side motor mount. I have the car at a new shop right now, and I asked them to replace the motor mount, even though it looks fine. I had a long talk with the mechanic there today and he seemed a bit skeptical, but thought it was a possible solution.

Any suggestions? Should I spend the money on a motor mount even if it looks okay? (I’ve also read that the Focus mounts look fine from the exterior when they are bad because they have a gel interior that busts). I’d sure appreciate any suggestions. Especially if this doesn’t work, I’m going to be back at square… um, zero.


It Could Be A Mount ( I Had A Misaligned Mount Once That Sounded Like A Bad Wheel Bearing.), But The Idea That It Is More Active When It’s Cold And Goes Away After About An Hour Makes Me Skeptical.

An exhaust system component is more likely to heat up after driving for a while, expand, and change the component’s relationship to other components. Also, accelerating moves the engine and it’s exhaust system.

Ford has published 2 TSBs (Technical Service Bulletins) that pertain to exhaust parts. The bulletins are written to assist Ford technicians.

One 1 page bulletin (# TSB 05-14-12) applies to 2002 - 2004 Focus SVT vehicles. Some of these vehicles may have broken or cracked catalytic converter mounting brackets. I can’t tell from the illustration, but it appears the bracket might be on the back side of the engine where the exhaust system wraps around.

Another 2 page bulletin (TSB # 06-2-7) applies to 2002 - 2004 Focus SVT vehicles. Technicians are advised that some of these vehicles have a loose or missing engine exhaust manifold heat shield, or upper and lower catalytic converter heat shields. This may be caused by the heat shields breaking or corroding at their attachment points.

I’d have these areas checked out before proceeding with the mount, especially the converter mounting bracket.


Has the problem been resolved and what was the root cause? I have a welll maintained 2002 focus, z-tech, 5 spd manual with 225K. When starting in 50 degree or less temp I get a grinding/rumbling/vibration noise that can become more pronounced when truning right. As the car warms up the noise decreaes. When the wheel is straight the noise goes away unless you hit a dip in the road. You would almost say it is a strut. When in a continuous right hand turn and cold (on ramp) the noise is there and makes you think it is a bearing or hub issue but it goes away when warm. Sway bar links, tie rod ends, ball joints, etc are all solid and rulled out as a cause. I recently fixed the exhaust, replaced the PS high pressure line and then started noticing the nois but the weather has aklso become cold at the same time. Car runs fine , drives straight and does not vibrate at any speed. Could this be the PS motor mount problem? Prior to the noise starting the car aslo experienced wet slippery grass turns both left and right but no major bumps. Any help is appreciated

@Dynamic, since the original post was last February, the OP is unlikely to come back and see your question.

I suggest you start a new thread with your question to get more visibility. Since this a very old thread, the moderators will probably lock it now.