Pontiac Vibe-ration

I have purchased a 2006 Pontiac Vibe (aka Toyota Matrix) for my daughter. It has just turned 90,000. Here is its story. It rode and drove great in every way except that there was a constantbackgroud sound on the right front while it was moving, like something was dragging or rubbing. The day after I bought it I had 4 new tires put on, and the shop said it needed new brakes and rotors on the front, not a surprise, and I thought perhaps it might have been one of the brakes making the dragging noise. The new brakes didnt help, and after a day or two it started making a light clicking, clunking sound on the left front side when I turned the wheel, sounded like a bad wheel bearing. I took it back where I bought it and they said sure enough, the wheel bearings were both worn out, and replaced them under a 30 day warranty program. The dragging and clicking and clunking were gone, everything was smooth and quiet except when easing down on the brakes, and new sound in time with the speed of the car, a sort of flup flup flup fluupp creak creeek creeeek, it sounds like a big rusty hinge, on the left front side. I took it back to the shop, and since they are all deaf from too many years of air wrenches in thier ears, they couldnt hear it but decided to put on new brakes and rotors thinking the really bad bearing on the left might have done something to the pads or rotors (they did it at no cost to me, I think they thought they had put on the new breaks to begin with) the flup flup creak noise was still there, and now when going over 60 and applying the breaks there was a strong vibration through the brake pedal and steering wheel. I have taken it to another shop. the guy there said first thing that the left front bearing was bad, the other shop didnt use a press, but instead hammered the bearing or maybe used a big rock, but anyway ruined it, because he could pull the wheel back and forth with his hands. He put in a new bearing with a press, the vibrations are all gone, but the noise is still there. He tried putting it on the lift and running it to try and track down the sound, but it only makes it when the front end is under load with the full weight on the ground. He pulled out the brakes and strut assembly, everything looked good, and he lubed any friction points that might have been making the noise It only makes the sound when the front brakes are applied because he tried stopping using the hand brake, and no sound. It doesnt make the sound when rolling backwards, we both tried rolling it down hill at different speeds and no noise. He doesnt want to start throwing new parts in it without some idea of where the noise is coming from, and isnt ready to drive it dragging someone under the car to help spot the noise. He and the car are going to spend some quality time together this week, he is pretty sure it has something to do with the brakes, but 30 years of experience have him stumpted. Anyone have any ideas? Or would volunteer to get dragged under the car with a stethescope?

The noise could be from one of the new tires. Since they are new, swap the front tires and see if the sound moves to the other side.

The fact that it only makes the noise under load really makes me suspect the tire.

 It could simply be that they didnt use any "brake quiet" on the back of the new pads....I always use High Temp Permatex "Ultra-Black" gasket maker on the back of my pads....  Its much thicker than Brake quiet...and I like it for that reason....works like a charm too...  The reason for this pad quiet stuff is simple....  When you apply the brakes the pads squeeze the rotor....upon doing so the pads actually vibrate or rather they oscillate VERY fast and if you were to look at the pads during this you wouldn't see anything wrong....you cannot see this oscillation.....BUT you CAN hear it.  It squeeeeals or squeaks...  Make sure someone puts some sort of pad quiet on the back of your front brake pads.  Might fix it right away.  The shop that installed your new bearings sounds like a Hack Shop....You can easily ruin brand new bearings by not knowing what you are doing.....happens all the time.  
 You need to find a shop with some good mechanics on board so that they can take a listen and an educated guess at the noise...Its very hard to find mechanics that will put in the time it takes to actually root out the cause of car noises....most are just too busy or not interested enough sad to say.  Sometimes it takes a good long time to find these sorts of things and they may not be up to it....I guarantee you that if I had your vehicle I could tell you exactly where the noise was coming from in time.....Its one of my specialities I guess....I'm a guru when it comes to finding vehicle noises and their causes....Silly I know, but it has helped myself and many others over the years.  It can be maddening to try and have someone else try to fix these probs....Because usually when your car knows its going to see a mechanic....It behaves like an Angel...LOL.....its true!  

Do you live near Philadelphia? I’d be happy to take a listen for you? I think you may be up in Vermont…No?

Thanks for the input, Blackbird. I am in Vermont, or I’d be on your doorstep! The new shop the car is at now seems pretty good, and the guy has been taking his time trying to find the noise. I will mention your tip to him. He is convinced its something in the front brakes. If it was the pads, I wonder why they only make the noise when the weight of the car is on the wheels, and only when going forward. And its exact same noise with two different sets of pads and rotors, and only showed up after the hack garage put in the new bearings. I wonder what else they might have screwed up when they put them in.

Again, the tires. Swap the tires and see if the noise moves.

Thanks keith, Ill suggest that to the mechanic; but the new tires were on the car for a couple of weeks with no noise, it was only after the bearings were changed that the noise showed up. but anything is worth a try