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Suspension-related oscillating tire noise?

2008 Passat 45k. No accidents. Towed twice on flatbeds due to bad fuel pump. Tires were rotated every 10k or so.

I’m wondering if there are any suspension (or wheel) issues that can lead to maybe tire wear and a loud oscillating noise. I had factory Goodyear Eagles 235/45-R17’s that started to develop a very loud speed-dependent oscillating noise that definitely came from the tires, but I can’t tell if it’s one tire or more than one. I just had them replaced though I was not quite yet down to the wear indicators. My new Continentals are of course pretty quiet, but occasionally I think I hear very faint oscillations again on certain surfaces at high speed. I’m worried that I might trash these new tires. I had to have an alignment/balance/rotation at about 30k due to minor steering vibrations at highway speeds. The noise started around 37k and got louder and louder. About this same time I had a flat tire that was immediately repaired; I noticed uneven wear on this flat tire which I attributed to the previous minor alignment/balance problem. I usually find out about any low pressures by the dash light, so I’m pretty sure my tire pressures are usually good. I rotated at 40k with a minor improvement that got bad again after about 1k.



I do not understand. Are the new tires making this noise? Was it the new tires that you rotated at 40k and began making the noise 1k later?

Worn out struts/shock can cause abnormal tire wear and an oscillating growl from tires. As can also other worn suspension parts.

There’s no real way to know the root cause withut look at the vehicle.

By the way, don’t rely on the warning system to notify you of a low tire. Get in the habit of occasionally checking them. By the time the warning light glows a bad wear pattern could have already begun.

I agree with TSM, if it’s anything, I’d check the struts/shocks first. Were the old tires evenly worn, or was there any variation/cupping? But I will say that my tires do get noisy in the last 1/4 of their life, so it just may be worn tires.

Having bad shocks or struts on an '08 at only 45K would be a bit odd - though possible and it would depend a lot on driver and road conditions.

Its also possible to get irregular wear if you have balancing problems (which you mention).

The thing about that first set of tires is that once a tire develops an irregular wear pattern its likely to just keep going and going no matter what you do. So you could easily have had some kind of alignment or balance issue that started the weird wear, and even if the underlying issue is fixed the pattern is already set on the tires.

Your best bet would have been to have whomever replaces the tires analyze the old wear pattern - did they?

As a side note since you mention a tire repair, I once had a tire repaired but it was never rebalanced. After a while it developed a flat spot opposite the repair. By the time I noticed it was too late. The repaired tire was on the rear & the problem not that noticeable. But I rotated it to the front and then went down the road going “whop! whop! whop!.” They were due for replacement anyway so that was my remedy - and I have an alignment with every new set of tires.

First, you said that you had a minor alignment problem - and that’s probably where the noise on the Goodyear’s came from - irregular wear.

If you’ve had the alignment checked when you put on the new set of tires, then you are probably good to go. If not, it might be wise to invest in an aligment. The newer VW’s have a bit too much camber, so getting the toe right is extremely important.

Keith - no, the new tires are only a week old, but I think I can faintly hear the noise at highway speeds.

Cigroller - I dropped the ball by not asking them to examine the old tires. That was a big mistake. Also, like you, I didn’t rebalance the repaired tire after the flat (my neighbor wanted to show me he could fix it himself with those repair kits!).

Mountainbike - yeah, I’m concerned that I might have driven on a low p tire before it went totally flat over night and the light went on the next morning. I need to keep a watch on that.

OK, so I have an appt to have the struts, bearings, bushings, steering, etc checked out. As Capracer says, an alignment might be good insurance. The first time I got an alignment, a local tire shop wasn’t able to do a good job (had no effect) but when VW did it, it solved the problem. So now, unfortunately, I’m suspect of lower-cost alignment options.

The roads here in Ohio were really bad after last winter, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple big hits might have damaged something.

Thanks again!


Just for future reference, those tire plug kits such as that used by your neighbor are great for a temporary repair. I carry one in my van (which also has a built in air compressor) b/c I’d rather plug a flat tire & drive on it rather than the temporary spare.

But it should be seen as only temporary. The best thing is to get a tire shop to do an internal patch repair & have it rebalanced. Obviously that’s more expensive than just plugging it, so it might not be the best option for older tires near the end of their life.