What's the shhh shhh shhh sound coming from my wheel? (Ford Focus 2001)

I have a 2001 Ford Focus ZTS in decent shape and it just got a checkup (brakes are great).

But there's a shhh shhh shhh sound coming from the left side - I THINK it's the rear wheel.

I hear it if I'm driving near a curb or close to houses and my window is open so the sound reflects back - so it might be from the front.

If I slow down the sound slows down to a zzzz zzzz zzzz, and is almost certainly with the wheel rotation.

I stole a bit of time from a nice random mechanic (mine is closed today) who rotated the wheel a bit and listened as I drive it a few feet - but he didn't hear anything, and said it might be the bushings drying out.

Any thoughts? Normally I'd just wait and go back to my mechanic, but I'm driving a long distance (with my child) in two days, and don't want to worry if the wheel will fall off...

If it's potentially a serious problem I'd rent something - but ugh.

Thanks for your patience and wisdom!


Car Wiggling?
If You Are Rolling Forward At Low Speed (Parking Lot Speed) Can You Detect Any Side-To Side Movement Of The Car, Particularly In The Rear-End Where You’re Hearing the Sound?

How old are the tires? I’ve had aging tires develop both a sound that you describe, a low speed wiggle, and a higher speed jiggle or vibration. Sometimes the tires develop defects in the “belts” when they get too old.


Sounds like a tire problem. Have the tires rotated and see if the sound moves.

Interesting! And reassuring. The tires are in decent shape (like, not bald) but they could well be uneven in one way.

I’ll inspect more carefully soon.

The tire belts separate internally and cause the noise.

That’s Why I Asked About Age And Not Miles Or Wear. I Have Found That Age Is More Likely To Cause That Unless A Tire Is Nearly Bald In Some Or All Areas.

Tires (unless they are really old) have an age code (date of manufacture) somewhere on the sidewall of the tire. Find where it begins DOT (Department of Transportation) and then numbers.

Example: DOT PJU7 JD1R 4113
Look at the last four digits, the 4113. This indicates the tire was manufactured during week 41 of 2013.

Read the date on each tire. They could be from different dates of manufacture. Old tires are not good. Old tires, especially if that is what is causing your noise, could have a catastrophic failure, with little or no warning and you may be getting a warning.

Read the dates and post them here for further advice. tell which ones are front, which ones rear.


I’ve heard a dragging pad (cause: sticky caliper) make that sound on more than one occasion.
Two suggestions:

  1. check the temperature of the discs on the two sides after a ride. An infrared thermometer with a laser site is a worthwhile $25 investment.
  2. jack up each wheel and spin it by hand. You should feel and/or hear a dragging pad.
  3. check the pads through the inspection holes. If the wear is uneven, that’s a sign that one is dragging.

Okay, that’s three. I can no longer count. But I’m familiar with your symptom.

As @“the same mountainbike” suggested, jack up each wheel and give it a spin.
It could also be a dust shield that got bent and if that rotor is warped slightly it will make that sound.


I’m Not Sure Guys, But I Don’t Think CluelessInSeattle Is Going To Be Jacking Anything Up Or Buying Tools For Diagnosing. I Get The Impression That CIS Is Not A DIYer, But Rather Likes Relying On A Mechanic For Car Stuff.


You got that right, Common Sense :slight_smile:

Yes, but if the OP is clever, they will take all these suggestions and details, print them out, and give them to the mechanic.

I may not print them out but I’m definitely remembering all the possibilities :slight_smile:

Bushing, tire belts, dust shield, rotors, pads…

Thanks everybody - short of actually coming over and inspecting my car, this has been incredible helpful!

That should go over well.

I wouldn’t mind if we had been stumped by a problem that we couldn’t figure out and the owner printed off some info that might help and dropped it off.

I went to a Barn to shoe a horse once…first time with this client and the lady handed me a magazine article and stated that she wanted her horse shod just like the article describes.

I handed her back the magazine and told her that this would take too much time reading right now.
I told her I could shoe the horse…ignoring the article…she could pay me $50 for wasting my time…or she could save up and send the writer a plane ticket to come and shoe her horse.

She opted for me to do the horse the way I saw fit. She called a few days later and said that her horse never moved so well.

I had to bite my tongue.


Its almost always the brakes making those kinds of noises… Many times a caliper or brake shoes dont fully release all the way. No way of knowing until you pull the wheel and inspect the brakes on that wheel. Pretty simple stuff…


Unfortunately I was in a fish-or-cut-bait situation. I had to stop looking for an available mechanic and just rent a car. As it is I have only a few hours left for packing now… Probably it’s totally benign - but I do not want to spend the whole drive worrying about it, with my kid along!.. Thanks for the good advice everybody and I’ll put it in front of my guy upon my return.