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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 02-18-2013, 05:23 PM   #1
UpOn3
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Join Date: Oct 2010
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whirling sound from front wheel?

All of a sudden (or after I got it back from a shop), I started to hear a whirling/squeaking/springing sound from the right front wheel when driven 15-30MPH. After that speed road noise drounds it out. Doesn't happen at very low speed.

I couldn't get it to replicate when I spun the wheel by hand. Everything looked fine when I expected that corner. No play in the wheel to indicate bearing. The sound doesn't seem to be influenced by the application of the brakes.

Seems like a superficial sound that is somewhat high pitched, but not a squeal/screech. Certainly can't feel it and it doesn't sound louder when I put the window down. What can it be???

Thanks for any suggestions.

2001 E46 sedan M54B30
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Old 02-18-2013, 05:58 PM   #2
LeMansteve
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What did you have done at the shop?

Check your brake dust shield. Sometimes it can get bent and rub against the rotor.

If it is a bad wheel bearing, you won't be able to reproduce the same noise by hand. The bearings need to be loaded (weight of the car on them).
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Old 02-18-2013, 07:16 PM   #3
UpOn3
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at the shop for something for the right rear door, so they shouldn't have touched the front wheel. I'll check the shield again when I pull the wheel again.

The sound is somwhat rubbery sounding and definitely proportional to wheel speed. I can't think of another rotating part that can make noise other than a bearing. Is a bad BMW bearing known to exhibit a light sound before getting worse? What else can it be?

I'll go ahead and change it if it can't be anything else. Are worn bearings common on an E46 w/ factory wheels? How much work is it and can I DIY easily with common tools? How many professional hours?

Thanks!
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Old 02-18-2013, 08:02 PM   #4
lcoleman
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Worn bearings are common on all cars, and they do start out pretty tame and get progressively worse. If the dust shield isn't hitting, I would probably double-check the brakes and wait for it to get worse.

It's not a hard DIY, but the axle nut has some serious torque. Book time is probably 2-3hrs, maybe more. You can google instructions on how to do it. I think you need a 36 or 42mm socket and a loooong breaker bar (or ballsy impact).
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Old 02-18-2013, 11:56 PM   #5
UpOn3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lcoleman View Post
Worn bearings are common on all cars, and they do start out pretty tame and get progressively worse. If the dust shield isn't hitting, I would probably double-check the brakes and wait for it to get worse.

It's not a hard DIY, but the axle nut has some serious torque. Book time is probably 2-3hrs, maybe more. You can google instructions on how to do it. I think you need a 36 or 42mm socket and a loooong breaker bar (or ballsy impact).
thanks. 2-3 hours seems like a lot, must be moderately involved and take me 2x as long. Any idea about how much the part will be?

Bearings are one of those parts that seem to fail at different rates, like coils. Some seem to last much longer... it's not common to need to change all 4 within the same time frame.
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