2004.5 AWM 177k miles - intermittent vibration regardless of speed

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Thread: 2004.5 AWM 177k miles - intermittent vibration regardless of speed

  1. #1
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    2004.5 AWM 177k miles - intermittent vibration regardless of speed

    Hi. Long time reader, first time poster.

    Background:
    I have a 2004 VW Passat B 5.5 AWM 4cyl with 177k miles. Car runs very well, very smooth idle, slight power loss going uphill, typically in the winter. I recently had brake pads + rotors replaced (fall of 2018) and more recently had a set of 4 tires put on (winter 2018) and they were balanced etc. Car has run completely fine for months. I had the CV joints replaced ~4 years ago.

    Issue:
    I’ve had an issue occur exactly 2 times over the course of the last 3 weeks. Once 3 weeks ago, once today; both on highway.

    I get a vibration, seemingly coming from the front driver’s side wheel. Both times I’ve gotten the issue, I was going ~60MPH, however the vibration persisted even when I brought the car down to 40 MPH (and even lower). The vibration persists until I stop the car completely (or perhaps at a very low speed such as 10MPH). After I accelerate/ start driving again, the vibration completely disappears.

    The vibration is not a heavy vibration (I’ve had a bad coil/ constant misfire in the past and that was terrible, so I know a bad vibration); instead, it is a persistent vibration that does not seem to be affected by engine RPM. Today, when I got the issue, I down shifted the engine when I was going ~50MPH, the vibration stayed exactly the same, despite running at a higher RPM. I even accelerated, going uphill, and caused the turbo to kick in and the vibration was not any better or worse. I’d estimate that I drove with this vibration at ~50MPH for roughly 1-1.5 miles until coming to a stop at a traffic light. Immediately after coming to a stop, the vibration was gone (although I only got the car up to ~45MPH).

    When I parked the car, I noticed a burning/chemical smell coming from the front driver’s side wheel well, but the smell was not present at the front passenger side wheel. I would describe the smell as burning rubber; my co-worker who took a look at the car described it as a ‘burning electrical smell’.

    Thoughts as to what this could be? Ways I could diagnose?

    Thank you

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  3. #2
    3rd Gear axenstar's Avatar
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    Because the vibration goes away when the car stationary, I would eliminate engine related issues.

    Because the vibration persists until it comes to complete stop, I would suspect wheel bearing and/or CV axle.

    Check if the cv boot is torn and the grease is spewed all over the wheel area. The burning smell might be that grease getting in contact with some sort of heat source.


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    Checked the cv boot - looks good as new. No grease spewed.

    (My CV boot was torn in the past and the grease went everywhere so I know exactly what that looks like).

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    3rd Gear axenstar's Avatar
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    Are you sure the wheel hub assembly is ok?


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    Jack up the front and spin the wheel in question. Does it sound OK? Does it spin OK? Any noises or wobbles or other looseness with the wheel?
    You could also swap the front wheels to see if the tire is bad. If the problem follows the wheel the tire is probably bad, if not, I'd suspect the wheel bearing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by axenstar View Post
    Are you sure the wheel hub assembly is ok?
    I'm only a novice DIY'er with my car. So am I sure the wheel hub assembly is ok? The answer is no, mainly because I'm wouldn't entirely know what to look for. However, if the wheel hub assembly is malfunctioning, would that cause a consistent issue? or would the issue be intermittent? I've only experienced this issue 2 times, over the course of 3 weeks, and only for a total of ~2-3 miles worth of driving. I typically drive about 150-200 miles per week.


    Quote Originally Posted by Iowegian View Post
    Jack up the front and spin the wheel in question. Does it sound OK? Does it spin OK? Any noises or wobbles or other looseness with the wheel?
    You could also swap the front wheels to see if the tire is bad. If the problem follows the wheel the tire is probably bad, if not, I'd suspect the wheel bearing.
    I will jack it up when I get home and try everything you mentioned.
    However, again, my problem is highly intermittent. In the case of a bad wheel bearing, would that cause a problem only intermittently, or would it be constant?

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    A bad wheel hub or bearing could start out intermittent before it gets worse. I'd guess that if it is a hub/bearing issue it will get worse and worse until it becomes obvious. That will make it easier to diagnose but if it goes out too quickly and you're on the freeway or in heavy traffic it could be 'exciting'. Try to jiggle the wheel a bit as you're turning it to see it moves at all or if the resistance changes. It might also be a good idea to do the same on the other side so you have something to compare to.
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    3rd Gear axenstar's Avatar
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    This guy has some good VW videos. This one is about bad wheel bearing.

    https://youtu.be/asKPk-6E0nQ


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    jack it up immediately and ,with caution ,feel hub area and (with caution) compare hub and rotors (left and right) temperature , with climate (rust) and mileage , a caliper might be hanging up, wheel should spin relatively easy, and easy to compare left to right
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  12. #10
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    If you have an IR thermometer, you can check the temperature easily and compare to the other side. From your descriptions, it sounds like a wheel bearing or, as Chief Wahoo says, a sticking caliper.

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    it's speculation on my part,however I know that a sticking caliper becomes a "snake chasing its tail",sticks ,rotor gets hot, expands,gets hotter,sticks even more, warps( giving pulsation), happened to me brand new Meyle front rotor down the tubes
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    I did some reading about a sticking caliper - it said that there will usually be a bad smell present, which is what's happening in my case.

    What about a bad rotor? Will there be a smell/ heat etc. when that occurs?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AzizLight View Post
    I did some reading about a sticking caliper - it said that there will usually be a bad smell present, which is what's happening in my case.

    What about a bad rotor? Will there be a smell/ heat etc. when that occurs?
    Does the steering wheel shudder/pulsate when brakes are applied at higher speeds? Generally the sign of bad rotor.



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  16. #14
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    [QUOTE=AzizLight;4513999]I did some reading about a sticking caliper - it said that there will usually be a bad smell present, which is what's happening in my case.

    What about a bad rotor? Will there be a smell/ heat etc. when that occurs?



    If indeed you have the caliper piston "hanging up" you will be able to feel the heat if you can smell something "hot" , the aluminum wheel rim will be warm. Need to drive car around block and take off wheels first things first. Usually a caliper hangs up (piston) is when pistons have been pushed back for a brake job or pads are all the way worn away and piston is at its extended limit.

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    I vote the RIGHT INNER CV Joint might have issues. It is the one closest to the exhaust and the grease might have dried up.
    I have seen some of the CV Joints create that intermittent vibration that you will feel in the steering and/or body while driving.

    Good luck!

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