Droning Noise

HMTJ6821

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Buick LaCrosse 2016
2010 CXS with Michelin Pilot Sport A/S3 tires replaced at 55k miles; now at 75k miles. Tire rotation at 70k miles.

We suddenly began to notice a droning noise at 75k miles that was independent of the engine RPM or the transmission gear selection. It is solely dependent, it appears, on the actual speed of the vehicle. It does not change tone with a change from concrete to asphalt road surface or when the road is wet in the rain.

I have examined underneath the vehicle for loose components, torn universal joint boots, and rubbing components. There were no obvious discrepancies observed. The lug nuts torque was checked and the wheels do not feel loose when off the ground or when rotated. Rotating the front wheels off the ground in neutral does not produce any noise or vibration.

Getting really nit-picky, I have noticed that the word "inside" is molded into the tire sidewall that is showing on the outside of the wheel on each tire but these are not unidirectional tires anyway.

The transmission fluid appears to be at the correct level (although the owner's manual states that the correct method to measure the transmission fluid level is too difficult for the common owner). The transmission fluid on the dip stick appears to be clear with no odor of burning.

Any easy ideas? I may just have to take it in to the dealership to let the mechanics have a look at it.
 

oldschool

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I would suspect a wheel bearing. Late last winter my wife was with me and said, hey your car is noisy. I said, it's just the winter tires. I put the summer tires on and the noise was still there. There was no looseness in any of the wheels but when ever I turned right and the weight transferred to the left it got louder. I changed the front left hub bearing and it's been good since.

Definitely, whoever installed your tires made a mistake, but not a big deal. They still do their job, just not as well as designed.
 

jeffc83

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2013 Buick Lacrosse Touring in Storm Grey Metallic (sold) / 2013 Cadillac XTS Luxury
I have the same exact issue but have not yet been to the dealer to have it checked out. You are absolutely correct, it is something that has nothing to do with the engine or transmission. I have the stock tires with 10500 on the clock. Could it be wheel bearings for me???
 

HMTJ6821

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Thank you, OldSchool. When I mentioned your comment regarding the wheel bearing, my wife reminded me that our car was hit by a roll-away truck in a Lowe's parking lot about a year ago. The truck hit the left rear wheel; even leaving some paint on the wheel itself.

Several years ago, our Regal was side swiped by another car at the front left wheel area. About eight months later, that wheel bearing failed.

I will be pulling the wheels today to check for roughness in the wheel bearings.
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jft69z

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'11 CXL-gone, '11 CTS-V Coupe (6M), '13 ZR1 Vette, '69 RS/Z-28 454 cu.in;'18 BMW M550
=HMTJ6821;209242I will be pulling the wheels today to check for roughness in the wheel bearings.

A neat trick to check the wheels bearings if you can't 'feel' or measure any slop or movement..... jack up the car, spin the wheel & grab the coil spring on the strut (if you car has struts/springs). Guarantee you'll feel the bad bearing thru the spring, it's sort of like a tuning fork & will seem to amplify the roughness of the bad bearing.

Also remember to grab the wheel from the top & bottom when initially checking for a loose/bad bearing. Side to side may just be loose steering linkage parts, and lead to a false diagnosis. Top & bottom will eliminate steering linkage from the testing.

Also when driving straight, cut the steering wheel ever so slightly left & right. You'll usually hear the 'hum' come & go and also change a bit if there is a bad bearing. Then use the above trick to zero in on the bad one (if you can't feel an obvious movement in the bearing itself). Good luck!

Joe T
 

HMTJ6821

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Thank you, Joe.

I did put the vehicle up on jacks. Rocking both the front and rear tires vertically did not show any looseness. Spinning the tires also did not show any roughness or noises. I did relieve the brake pressure on the rear brakes to see if there was any roughness while being rotated. The only anomoly I noted was that, if I rocked the rotation back and forth, there was some hysterisis but both sides appeared the same.

I will note here that there is no change in the droning tone when turning or cornering rather fast as long as the speed is constant. Turning the wheel back and forth left-to-right does not change the tone at all.

I am beginning to consider that there may be a problem with the output of the transmission. I have checked the half shaft universal boots. They all appear to be tight and sealed. I do not see any fluid leaks from the tranmission seals.
 

HMTJ6821

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Just a question regarding the droning noise. Does the Buick LaCrosse have the noise canceling feature that uses the audio system and a microphone to provide a out-of-phase canceling wave? I am wondering if this feature may have failed and I am just hearing tire noise that was always there but concealed by noise canceling.
 

jft69z

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'11 CXL-gone, '11 CTS-V Coupe (6M), '13 ZR1 Vette, '69 RS/Z-28 454 cu.in;'18 BMW M550
I am beginning to consider that there may be a problem with the output of the transmission. I have checked the half shaft universal boots. They all appear to be tight and sealed. I do not see any fluid leaks from the tranmission seals.

What happens if you pop it into neutral (carefully) at the drone speed, does the noise go away or stay the same?

I've never heard of noise cancelling in the Buick (at least in my model year, '11). They always advertised they used different materials to make the car quieter but never heard of electronics being a part of it.

I found this from a GM document regarding 2014 LaCrosse:

QuietTuning

LaCrosse’s use of Buick’s unique QuietTuning engineering defines Buickquality, sound and vibration characteristics and refinement by following a three-point strategy of reducing sounds at their source, blocking sounds from entering the cabin and absorbing any remaining sounds.

LaCrosse’s specific QuietTuning features include acoustical laminate on the windshield and front side glass; steel laminate on the front-of-dash body area; expanded baffles in the roof pillars; extensive use of melt-on sound deadeners throughout the entire lower body structure; and sound-absorbing material throughout LaCrosse’s engine, passenger and cargo compartments.
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HMTJ6821

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The drone is always present; it is just the tone that changes with speed. I did place the transmission into neutral at 55 MPH on a level road. The drone did not change except in tone as the car slowed slightly.

Thank you for your insight.
 

jft69z

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'11 CXL-gone, '11 CTS-V Coupe (6M), '13 ZR1 Vette, '69 RS/Z-28 454 cu.in;'18 BMW M550
The drone is always present; it is just the tone that changes with speed. I did place the transmission into neutral at 55 MPH on a level road. The drone did not change except in tone as the car slowed slightly.

Thank you for your insight.

Sometimes I'll put a car on the lift, raise it a bit & then put it in gear/engine running to hear what's going on. Obviously it won't help you if the rear wheel bearings/tires are the problem (FWD vehicle). You'll get ABS, TC, etc. alarms because of the large difference in front to rear wheel speeds, don't be surprised. They'll clear after shutting it down & rolling along normally (but may still be hidden in the memory, no big deal). Sometimes this method helps since it's a lot easier than trying to stick your head out the window at 55 mph :D

Also make sure the wheels come to a full stop before putting it back in park....

You may also try a tire rotation to see if it changes. Swap the front for the rears, sometimes it does make a difference (not too often but have seen it in a couple of cases.).

It couldn't just be a simple wheel bearing like usual huh, lol.....
 

HMTJ6821

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I asked my wife to drive the car while I crawled around on the floor board listening for the sound. When I lowered the rear seat backs and climbed into the trunk, it became obvious that the droning sound was coming from the left rear wheel well. It appears that it IS the rear wheel bearing which was hit by the truck several months ago.

I am ordering the replacement wheel bearing this afternoon. It may be a week or more but I will post the results when I get it changed.
 

oldschool

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Good to hear, or maybe not hear!
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HMTJ6821

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Well, my wife convinced me that it was worth a few extra dollars to have the dealership change the wheel bearing hub. I have the tools and experience but, at 69 years of age, my skin bruises much more when I bump things.

Success. The droning noise is now gone and I once again can hear the purr of the engine and some slight tire noise.

Thank you to all for your comments and thoughts.
 

MHBlink8

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2011 Lacrosse CXL
That's good to know because my 2011 LaCrosse just started making a similar sound and I was thinking it was probably the wheel bearing (my wife had a Saturn Vue and we replaced 2 wheel bearings in that). I have 76k miles on it, so I'm wondering if this is common when you hit 75k+ miles or just a fluke. Either way, I'll be having my dealer take a look at the next oil change.
 
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Well, my wife convinced me that it was worth a few extra dollars to have the dealership change the wheel bearing hub. I have the tools and experience but, at 69 years of age, my skin bruises much more when I bump things.

Success. The droning noise is now gone and I once again can hear the purr of the engine and some slight tire noise.

Thank you to all for your comments and thoughts.

Hello all,

I apologize to hear that some of you are experiencing wheel bearing concerns. In addition, we want you to have the peace of mind that your vehicle is operating as expected. Please send me a PM with your full name, VIN, phone number, mileage, and the name of your involved dealership if this is something that you would like us to assist with. Have a wonderful weekend and I hope to to hear from you soon.

All the best,


Brandon M.
Buick Customer Care
 

oldschool

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'03 Buick LeSabre, '07 Allure CXL
Wheel bearing failures are common in GM vehicles. One of my parts guys says for every 20 GM bearings he sells he will sell 1 Toyota/Honda/Nissan bearing and maybe 5 Ford/Chrysler bearings. They are easy to change and don't cost a lot so it's not a reason to start hating the car. Just a bit annoying.
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MHBlink8

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Went to the dealer and they replaced the wheel hub. $450 later, everything is running smoothly again. I just hope none of the other ones go bad.
 

tjwhite

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2013 Buick Lacrosse Premium 1
I have the same issue in the front. My rear wheel hubs were already replaced. Time to get the front replaced as well.
 
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