Wheel Noise After Rotation

I had my tires rotated and afterwards noticed that my front, driver’s side wheel/tire was making a thumping noise when braking. Unfortunately, I was moving out of state the next day so I didn’t have time to go back to the tire shop to ask what they had done to my car. Any ideas? There is now a vibration when driving that is getting worse. Going to have new tires put on and hope that they will be put on the car correctly and the problem will go away. Otherwise, any ideas?

Have you checked the lug nuts on that wheel for tightness? If they are loose, tighten them and check the other three wheels. I had a similar problem when I had a flat fixed and the nuts weren’t properly tightened. After I drove a few miles the nuts started loosening up.

Ed B.

Ed’s suggestion is a good one. If the lug nuts are actually tight enough, then let me offer another possibility. If it had been a long time since your tires were last rotated, then it is possible that some unusual wear patterns exist on them. When a tire with an unusual wear pattern is switched to a different position on a car, it is likely that this will produce odd noises and/or vibration. If it is placed in a front wheel position, it is also possible to have problems that mimic bad ball joints or bad tie rod ends.

So, my question is whether these tires have been consistently rotated at the correct mileage. If they have not been rotated according to specs, then it is actually better to leave them in place and to replace them when the tread wear indicates that they need to be replaced. Of course, this replacement will be earlier than it would have been if the rotations were done on schedule, but you can’t undo the tread wear that has taken place already.

Have these tires been rotated properly, previous to this rotation?

No, they haven’t been. Thanks for your suggestions. Since I’m going to start a 40 min commute next week, I’m having new tires put on this week and hope that the noise will go away with proper install. My primary concern is the ‘thumpthumpthump’ coming from the tire when I slow down.

Just make sure that you have the tires balanced, that you have the wheels aligned a.s.a.p. after the installation of the new tires, and that you adhere to the car manufacturer’s recommendations on tire rotation–every 5k, or every 7.5k, or every 10k–whatever is specified by the car’s manufacturer. If you follow this plan consistently, you will get more even tread wear and longer tread life from your new tires.

If you feel this thumping at low speeds (< 20 mph) and the steering wheel moves back and forth, the tire may have a slipped belt. This happened with my 98 Windstar. I couldn’t tell visually, but my mechanic spotted it right away and I replaced the tire.

Ed B.