Vibrating noise at highway speeds


I drive a 2005 Corolla LE with a 5 speed manual transmission. I am the second owner but have had it since there were only 3,000 miles on it, and have been driving it for little over two years.

More often than not, about 2 out of 3 times, once the car reaches highway speeds for more than a brief period of time, something in the front of the car begins to make a vibrating sound that is so annoying as to cause major headaches. Slowing down sometimes helps it, but once it starts, it will persist indefinitely, until the trip is over. The next day it will be as if nothing happened and no noise again. It never happens at low speeds or on city/suburban streets. The noise is quite loud and even blasting the radio can’t drown it out, it only adds to the noise level inside the car.

There is nothing mechanically wrong, the car runs fine, and has over 50,000 miles on it now. It has been making this noise ever since we first got it.

I took it to a dealership, who charged an hours labor and told me it was the “windshield molding” and that they could try an re-seal it (for an extra 2.5 hours of labor) and if that didn’t work they’d have to replace all 3 pieces of molding around the windshield.

I called around for other estimates on re-sealing the windshield, and one shop nearby had me bring it in. They were not able to determine what the cause of the noise was, but they are an auto glass repair shop, and would have loved my business, but told me that it was definitely not the molding, it was still very secure and unlikely to be the cause. They suggested it could be one of many things, including the wheel bearing, or even the grill or fans in front, but they could not reproduce it in 2 test drives with different mechanics.

I am suspicious that the dealership, which only had it for a little over an hour, didn’t even get the correct diagnosis, or even do anything at all, but charged me anyway.

What could be causing this noise? I am looking for a list of candidates, or possibilities.

More info: The windshield is the Toyota factory original, and nothing has ever been replaced except the front bumper, tires, and wipers, but the noise problem preceded them all, and started right after I purchased it.


Trying to dianose a noise over the internet is hard enough, but without a description of the noise, it is impossible.

Since the dealership went after the the windshield molding, it is probably like a whistle. If so they are on the right track. You can probably move this diagnosis along faster (and save yourself some money) by using duct tape over the molding to see if you can change the sound.

Once you have changed the sound, gradually removing the tape will reveal where the problem is located.

But if it isn’t like a whistle, then we need to know what it sounds like to help you.


Thanks. I understand what you mean about not enough information. It’s kind of hard to describe, actually, since it sounds like two noises which both begin simultaneously.

I will try the duct tape method next time. Heck if it works, I’ll probably just leave it on, I don’t care how it looks, the noise drives me bonkers! Thanks for the tip. If I am ambitious, I’ll put it on in small pieces, and remove them one at a time until the noise comes back.


Have you tried getting the tires balanced? Usually causes a problem around 60 mph.