Troubling noise

I have a 2000 Subaru Forester with 65K miles. About 3 months ago it started making a noise from the rear that was like a low pitched tire whine. It is speed related going up in pitch with speed but is not tire noise. It is unrelated to road surface and did not change when I put 4 new tires on. It has gradually gotten louder. You can start to hear it about 30 miles and hour and is distinct by 40, probably maxing out between 50 and 60. Putting the car in neutral while at speed has no effect on the noise. Finances have led me to put off dealing with it, but today a new symptom began - a very distinct vibration through the steering wheel (it was perfectly smooth before). Now I’m worried. I think it may be the transaxle going out and unsafe to drive. Does this ring a bell with anyone?


Sounds to me like a wheel bearing. Suspect this especially if the sound briefly changes or even disappears when you turn one way or another. If you’re sure that the sound has been from the rear, then that and the steering wheel vibration may very well be 2 completely different things. If you have a set of jack stands & a decent jack you can learn a bit about the wheel bearings yourself by getting the car up, spinning the wheels and listening - they should sound nice and smooth with no rubbing, grinding, etc. Also grab the wheels on the outsides and try to rock them back & forth. If there is any play wheel bearings are a good bet.

In general, though it sounds like you should visit a good front end shop. The vibration could be a simple as that one of those new tires threw a wheel weight to a bad wheel bearing (this is unsafe) or other worn front end parts (also unsafe). When does the vibration happen? All the time? High speed? Low speed? Braking? Turning?

Thanks for the response cigroller. The vibration just started and, as you say, could be unrelated to the noise. I don’t feel it at 25 mph but its sure there at 35. Both noise and vibration are continuous and braking or turning do not affect it. It doesn’t feel like an unbalanced tire and unlike the noise does not change when you speed up. Looks like I had better find a mechanic quick.