I have a 2003 Honda Accord 2.4L Automatic with 88,500 miles on it. Around 87,000, I started hearing a rhythmic wah-wah-wah noise coming from the driver front during acceleration. I first thought it may be the tires (4 years old with virtually no wear on the tread, but some minor crack lines on the side walls), the 2 driver side tires were dropping 20 pounds with the major temperature swings we had. I had them inspected, balanced and rotated, but the noise was still coming from the front.
If I put the car in neutral after bringing it up to 40mph or higher, the noise will go away.
I did a driveway check on the wheel bearings (jack up the car, rock the top and bottom of the wheel in and out), and didn't see any play. Took it to a shop, and they suggested replacing the driver front wheel bearing and hub. They said it was on it's way out. After the replacement, the noise remained, and they thought it may be the transmission.
I took it to a transmission shop, and they did a basic check...no metal on the transmission plug, and no leaks. They felt the noise was coming from the axle. The axle CV boot looks good.
The transmission fluid was last replaced by Honda around 60K.
Finally to my question, what do you think could be making the wah-wah-wah noise, and what basic check can I do to determine that the part is bad?
We don't see very many bearing failures on that particular transmission. Not saying its not possible, just not common. I would take a second look at your axles besides only inspecting just the boots. It sounds load related since the noise only comes under load and not when you place it in neutral.
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If you don't know what gear and bearing noise sound like, now would be a time to listen to some clips on youtube.
Drive the car, and shake it from side to side vigorously, (not into oncoming traffic). The intent is to shift wheel load from side to side, and loose wheel end parts will generally make less noise with load on it, while with the load shifted off will make more noise. General way to find wheel bearing noise.
Next item would be engine/trans mounts, flexing of the powertrain will force the axle to transmit power at angles that may produce noise. Although in my experience this is not likely, should still be checked.
Tires can make a lot of noise, especially tires that are old, and not worn. A tire will harden over its life, which will encourage the plies of the tire to shift or distort due to rubber hardening. This normally manifests as a vibration (separation), or noise (hardening).
About 75/100 noise complaints that I see are tire related.
Video of the noise would be very interesting.
Retired ASE Master Technician/Advanced Level Specialist
Thank you for the posts.
We drove the car about 800 miles on a round trip to make the sound loud enough to hear. We checked the wheel bearings at 400 miles, and they seemed to be okay. It doesn't sound like it is coming from the transmission.
The noise increased after we returned the other day, and it seems to be coming from the front tires.
I did the side to side driving, and the wheel bearings seem to be okay.
The tires are 4 years old, and we are replacing them tomorrow. If the tires do not fix the problem, I will pull and axle and see if that is the issue.
I'll post an update tomorrow.
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