Noise after Safety & Emissions

Hello Everyone!

Been listening to this show for a while but now I actually need help.

I had taken my 2003 Hyundai Elantra GLS to get it’s annual safety and emissions inspection. This is always a nerve wracking time for me and this experience has made it worse.

As I sat in the lobby of the place, I see my car go into the bay. Standard noises at the beginning and my anxiety sets in. My car is raised up and wheels are taken off the driver side. I then hear banging. Louder than any car before me. It sounded like the guy was taking out problems in his marriage out on my back wheel with a sledgehammer. I see the woman walk back to the lobby and can see the “REJECTED” in it’s bold, grey, all CAPS glory. She rattles off some b/s about my seatbelt not retracting into the door panel (it was twisted on something which my mechanic pal fixed), defrost not blowing hot air (it really was, just took a minute to warm up) and worn windshield wipers (they got me on that one).

As I left feeling so freaked out by what’s wrong with my car and how much this will cost, I start to hear something. I can’t tell if it’s the radio station I’m listening to or the car next to me. I get by myself and realize my car is now making a noise.

This noise is a mix between a whirring and what you might imagine a baseball card is a bicycle spoke. The noise only begins after about 25-30 MPH and doesn’t get louder or worse if I go faster. It also can really only be heard if the windows are up and the A/C, radio, etc. are turned off. My mechanic pal checked under the hood, checked the water pump, rode in the back seat and even the trunk to try and identify what this was.

Unfortunately for me he was unable to identify the source. He was able to untangle the seatbelt, confirm the heater worked, and I replaced the wiper blades so the car passed. I had the guy at the emission place check the car again and he didn’t see anything and claims he didn’t hear it. I doubt he was able to drive it at 30 MPH in the shop backlot since they don’t have one of those DINO machines or whatever they are called. He also explained he was banging it when I first took it in to loosen the drum in order to inspect the brake.

In conclusion, the noise still happens. 25-30 MPH it will start and not get any worse. Once I decelerate to 20-25 MPH it will stop.

What do you think? Any suggestions are appreciated and I will do my best to clarify anything I can as I’m not a total car guy myself.


It’s possible the tech over tightened the lug nuts when they put the wheels back on. That’s the first thing to check.

It sounds like a wheel bearing going out, It would have happened anyway, no blame to testing.

If the noise wasn’t there before the safety inspection then I’m guessing the trouble would be with one of the components that was inspected. Perhaps your mechanic friend could find the time to pull the wheels and brake drums and have a look.

I find it odd that the noise doesn’t increase in frequency or volume as your speed increases. A noisy wheel bearing almost surely would.

Sorry these “inspections” are so nerve-wracking for you. They’re really a waste for everyone.

OP: Does the frequency of the noise correlate w/rpm? Or does it correlate w/vehicle speed? If you coast at a speed where you hear the noise, but let the engine return to idle rpm while you coast, do you still hear the noise?

@Barkydog, I certainly don’t mean to blame the guy. Merely that it happened after this inspection and has never happened before. I was mostly telling about the sound because of how I was feeling when I heard him banging it harder than any other car before mine. It is an '03, so I’m sure more and more things are going to need to be replaced as time goes on.

@asemaster I have pretty major anxiety already so when someone starts talking about things I don’t have a good grip on and then tacks on “it will be $XXX-$X,XXX to fix” just makes me want to buy a new car. Keep in mind, I like my car. It’s been so good to me.

@GeorgeSanJose, vehicle speed only. My mechanic friend had me get up to 40 MPH and put in neutral. The noise remained. He had me rev up and it remained at the same level with regards to frequency and volume. The noise will stay as I coast at those speeds. Anything below 25 MPH and it disappears.

Noise is associated w/speed only? Then ask your mechanic friend to check the lug nuts, that they haven’t been overtightened. Best of luck.

Hello All,

Just wanted to give an update. I took the car to my actual tire place to do my balance and rotation. I was praying to the Elantra gods that it would go away but it almost seems like it’s louder now. What I’m thinking is it was on the back wheel from the banging, and when that wheel was moved to the another spot (I’m guessing the front) it appears louder.

Any other thoughts? I take it on the freeway and don’t really have any issues. The ride can be bumpy but I can’t tell if that’s just the roads that I drive on.

I’m still lost