Intermittent howls and squeals from front passenger side (I think)


#1

I recently bought a 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 automatic 4.7L. About 3 days after purchase I’ve begun to notice a couple of strange noises. Now I put this truck through its paces during the evaluation period and noticed no faults at all. Shifts smooth, 4wd works fine, brakes well, no strange noises, quiet and drift-free on the highway to speeds beyond what the state police would more than frown at. No rust, detailed maintenance records, seemed a seriously great truck. But then…

I began to occasionally hear a sharp squeal from what seems to be from the front passenger wheel area when braking to certain speeds. The sound is similar to cheap brake pads squealing or some foreign matter stuck between the rotor. I couldn’t reproduce it on demand so I thought maybe something caught on the rotor or some tire shine got slopped in there or something. The sound began to happen more frequently the next day, although still never through the whole braking process, just maybe around 5-10 mph. I called up the dealership and explained what I heard and basically since it’s as-is I’m on my own here. So I just planned to take it easy on it then the rest of the day and inspect the brakes and rotors as soon as I could thinking something brake-related. But then…

I heard the same squeal while I was accelerating from a dead stop while going up a steep incline (again 5-10mph or so). Okay, maybe could be brakes still - maybe sticky caliper? Now, here a day later I hear a loud howl from this same area while accelerating up another of our steep inclines here in the Blue Ridge mountains from previously moving at a very slow speed. Same speed range as produced the whine, after accelerating past around 10mph the sound was gone again. After driving it around a lot more over the course of the day this howl repeated one other time in approximately the same way, but on a different road.

I cannot reproduce either sound purposefully, in all but one case the vehicle was not turning when the noise occurred. Any thoughts before I have to take this into a mechanic and have them poke at it and not be able reproduce it?


#2

might check the serpentine belt.


#3

Hmm, well the sound isn’t like a slipping belt or bad pulley. The squeal really sounds like scraping metal as a brake issue often will. The howl has a similar quality to it but very low sound vs. the high sound that sometimes accompanies my braking. Thank you for any thoughts/advice. Weather will be alright tomorrow and I’m going to pull the wheels off to inspect, but I have a sinking feeling it won’t show me much of anything.


#4

Jacked up both front tires independently, both turned with moderate effort, definitely did not spin freely, very quickly stopping as soon as the force was no longer applied. It certainly sounded like brakes were lightly dragging on the front passenger side but I didn’t notice any such noise on the driver side. Both wheels seemed to spin a little more easily backwards than forwards. Definitely the case on the front passenger side. So, first question is if the front wheels should spin more freely than this assuming no brake problems? On my old 4wd which had manually locking hubs, the wheels spun freely. I don’t know what I should expect with this vehicle. I will need to get the brakes looked at either way, obviously. Not sure if this is something I should tackle myself… pretty handy but other than replacing pads I haven’t done any brake work. Any advice would be appreciated.


#5
I'm going to pull the wheels off to inspect...

And you saw…?


#6

I have experienced intermittent howls and squeals from the rear passenger area of my present and previous car. It was easy to diagnose being caused by Grandkids.


#7
I'm going to pull the wheels off to inspect...

And you saw…?

I saw nothing suspicious. No brake dust, nothing corroded or really even rusty. Rotors looked okay. Visually everything seemed tip-top. There were some clips that looked brand new, so I’m guessing very recent brake work. I didn’t pull the calipers off as I was running out of time. Could it be something as simple as the pistons maybe need some lubrication so they can retract more easily? What else should I be looking for? Thanks in advance!


#8
I have experienced intermittent howls and squeals from the rear passenger area of my present and previous car. It was easy to diagnose being caused by Grandkids.
Wow, I had this same issue in a 2013 Dodge Caravan. The solution was installing a DVD player on long trips with the 2yo daughter.

#9

What’s the configuration of your 4x4 when in 2WD mode? On my Ford truck 4x4 with locking hubs, when in 2WD mode the front wheel isn’t connected to any of the front axel stuff, it just freewheels on the spindle, like any 2WD rear axel driven vehicle. Is yours like that, or are there front axel components in motion even in 2WD mode. If so, the problem could be one of those. Check the lubrication of all the front axel components.

Bad bearings can do this too.

If I had this problem and a quick look-see didn’t turn up anything, I’d probably take the brakes completely apart, remove the rotors if that’s easy to do, and see if I could spot anything wrong, like a sticking caliper piston, one pad wearing much faster than the others, etc… If the pads look super-new, sometimes easing the sharp leading edge of the brake pad can help. Chamfering I think they call it. If the rotors look new, maybe they forgot to clean the rust-inhibiter off the rotors before installing them. While doing this, make sure you have a reference diagram for your truck of all the parts that should be there. Sometimes a shop doing a brake job will forget to install a anti-rattle shim or anti-squeal gadget. Or they’ll install the gadget that is supposed to squeal to warn you the brakes are wearing out w/the wrong orientation.


#10
Could it be something as simple as the pistons maybe need some lubrication so they can retract more easily? What else should I be looking for?

I’ve never heard of lubricating the pistons.

I’d try OEM pads.