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Woo-woo sound. Firestone guys stumped!

I have a 1999 Toyota 4Runner. It has about 115,000 miles and a new noise!

I originally thought the noise had something to do with my tire(s) or wheel bearing(s). The wheel bearings were packed about 60,000 miles ago, when we bought the car. So… I took the car to Firestone for new tires, oil change and inspection.

The guys at Firestone were completely stumped. I have brand new tires, nice wheel bearings, brakes, etc. They said they inspected all fluids, filters, suspension, etc., and said everything looked very good, yet they could also hear the noise.

The noise has continued. The faster the car goes, the louder and more frequent the sound (sort of like the baseball card in the bicycle spokes). It’s a woo-wooh-wooohh sound and it seems like it is coming from the left side of the car.

Thoughts? Ideas? Is it worth a $100 trip to the dealer for diagnostic tests?

I think the obligatory question is to ask whether or not you’ve been visited by Bubb Rubb lately.

No idea what this sound is but you should take a large grain of salt with what you were told about packing the wheel bearings. As I’ve stated on this forum, I’m not a Toyota expert but I believe all of the wheel bearings (like most cars) are sealed units and cannot be repacked. If someone told you this, they lied.

How do the guys at Firestone determine the bearings are “nice”? Sometimes wheel bearing problems can be a bit difficult to diagnose but this repacking and “nice” thing does not fly very well.

Is the noise coming from the left front, left rear, or can one not determine that?
Is the noise totally absent while the car is sitting still; engine running and not moving?

One thing I would point out, is that Firestone and the dealer are not the only two options here. You need to get yourself to a good independant mechanic, preferably a Toyota specialist. It will cost you a lot less than the dealer and they should be more experianced than the folks down at the chain garage.

I agree with OK that the bearings defintely require more scrutiny, but another possiblilty that I think is likely is a partially-stuck auto-locking hub.

could it be something blowing in the wind? Windshield gasket?

Or possibly an exhaust heat shield rattle was what I was pondering.

Okay… thanks for the feedback.

The noise is non-existent when the car is not moving - running or not. If going at low speeds, it’s not as noticeable either. My husband can’t hear it when I pull into the driveway, but we can both hear it while riding in/driving the car. The faster you go, the louder the noise.

I can’t tell if the noise is coming from the front or back. It seems like it is the driver’s side front. However, when you sit in the back, it seems possible that it could be from the back. Certainly seems like the driver’s side though… no matter where you sit in the car.

Here’s a dumb question – how do I find a good, reliable Toyota specialist (independent of the dealer)? Will those mechanics have some sort of certification from Toyota? I know… dumb.


You’ll just have to search around for an independent shop. Try to find one that specializes in Asian cars. Do a BBB search on them and the report should show at least how long they’ve been around and any history of complaints if the business is a BBB member.

Don’t put a lot of faith into certification from Toyota. An independent shop will not have this but it’s possible a tech there could have been a former Toyota dealer tech with factory certification.
Diplomas on the wall may or may not mean much because no tech ever flunks out of a factory service school as far as I know.
Even an ASE certification may not mean much. It helps, but should not be taken to mean the guy working on the car is the country’s finest.

Good to know! Thank you!