Grinding/Squeaking accompanied with 5mpg drop...'83 Civic

There is a grinding/squeaking noise coming from what sounds like the front driver side wheel area. It is not constant… the interval between each occurrence is relative to vehicle speed. When moving slowly, like in a neighborhood, the gap is about a ½ second. The gap lessens til I hit ±65mph, when each occurrence runs into the next and the sound is pretty constant. The 10 fill-ups before this started I averaged 42.3mpg, my last 2 fill-ups average to 37.6mpg…
Oh, there is no audible sound when the car is on a lift…

At first I thought a dragging brake but there is no change in the sound when the breaks are applied…I bled the lines anyway…no change.
I thought CV joint, but, from what I’ve read, the tell-tell clicking and worsening under heavy cornering is not present.
Maybe a wheel bearing? I’ve done the simple bearing test of trying to wiggle the wheel left-to-right & top-to-bottom…no movement.

By the way, this is a manual transmission and the sound is present whether in gear or in neutral or coasting with clutch depressed.

One more thing I should mention, and this might be important… my first poor mpg result coincided with me disintegrating a rod bearing…(low oil) I did replace the bearing with the appropriate size. I measured the crank journal with a micrometer and it still seemed to be right at the factory specs. There were no scores or gouges in the journal. (As soon as I heard the loud ticking associated with a bad rod bearing I shut the car off and pushed it to work where we have a lift. Luckily it was only about a mile and was pretty flat…it doesn’t hurt that the car only weighs 1,800 lbs. either.) Anyway, I reassembled the bottom end, torqued the rod cap according to the factory service manual, torqued the oil pump and the oil pan, added new oil and started it up. It ran, and still run, nice and smooth.

Any ideas?

Have you done a compression test?
Feel the rims after a cruise. Is one hotter than the others?
Brake or wheel bearing drag would heat it.
The sound might not change with braking because the caliper is frozen.

I did feel the wheels and lug nuts after my dive to work a couple of days ago, both fronts were warm… I thought it was a little strange because my commute is 98% highway, the 5 miles preceding my parking lot is smooth back country roads, no lights, no stop signs, 50mph limit.

One of the calipers feels a little loose when I grab it, maybe a worn guide pin… The car has 165,000 miles so I’m replacing the calipers and rotors this weekend. (rotors are just a hair above their minimum thickness so they could not be machined again) Here’s hoping…

Make sure to grease the slide pins with High Temp Brake grease. They are what allows the pads to come off the rotor when you release your brake pedal.

Good point, I’ll pick some up on the way home. Thanks!


I praise you for shutting off the engine when you heard the noise

Unfortunately, it’s not common sense for some people

BTW . . . based on your screen name, can we assume the Civic is your daily driver, but you’re really a Mopar guy?

I believe all your belts and accessories are on the left side of the engine bay. Have you ruled out the possibility that one of those belts and/or accessories are making the noise?

How’s that thermostat? Is the engine reaching operating temperature within a reasonable amount of time?

Is the oxygen sensor still the original one?

The bearing may still be the cause of the noise. It might be rough, but not loose. If it is the cause, I suggest you do both sides, as the other side has experienced the same conditions.

@ db4690
You are correct that I am indeed a Mopar guy. My other cars are a pretty modified '05 Crossfire SRT-6 and a mildly built '73 Challenger with a 440. These don’t get too much road time in the winter, neither do my motorcycles.

It is true that the belts are on the left… I tightened the AC belt a little after I noticed it was a little loose a couple of weeks ago but didn’t think to check others. I’ll check those when I’m under there doing the breaks this weekend.

Thermostat is good, the temp gauge reads just below the half-way line.

O2 Sensor? Not sure this has one… I’ll take a look.

Thanks for the thoughts.

OK. Update.

New calipers and rotors are on. I’m 98% certain the sound is the bearing. The inside (back) of the rotor hat of the passenger side was dry, as it should be; the inside of the driver side rotor had a thin film of grease all around it. The seal likely dry-rotted, allowing the bearing grease to slowly squeeze out.

One more quandary, however…Is it normal for the brakes to drag when the car is lifted with the suspension hanging but not drag when the car is on the ground? After I bled the brakes (which took me over 2 hours to do by myself) the rotors were difficult to turn. But when I lowered the car down, took a brief ride around the neighborhood, then re-parked it in my garage, I was able to push the car back & forward with very little effort and was not able to hear any friction… I did not think sprung or unsprung mattered with brakes?

Any thoughts?


My advice is to drive the car for a few days and recheck it. Let the new brakes get seated

Save yourself time and headaches. Get a beed kit.