I have a 2000 M5 with 55,000 miles on it. Recently, the drivetrain seems to have gotten louder at almost any speed. The noise is still there when car is in neutral.
I just replaced one of the front bearings on my 2005 GMC envoy. The M5 *seems* to have the same problem but I can't isolate it. On the Envoy, when I turn right, the noise got louder - turning right put more weight on the left side and the wheel bearing failure on the front left was accentuated. I can't sense the noise getting louder when I turn either way.
However, the noise does seem to get louder when I brake harder than usual. So it seems to me that the braking is putting more weight on the front wheels, amplifying the bearing problem(s). Any thoughts on this diagnosis?
I can raise the front of the car up and even take wheels off to check but I'm not sure I'm going to find anything. I did not find anything - loose wheel fitting, noise, etc. - when I did similar tests on my Envoy. If it's front wheel bearing(s), how do I determine which one?
Does not fit the bill for wheel bearing. You described what is required for wheel bearing corners and braking. Could be the center bearing half shaft or even the driveshaft. Needs to be on a hoist with the wheels turning to figure it out in all likely hood.
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I raised the front this morning and turned the wheels and can't hear anything out of the ordinary. However, I did notice that one of the front tires is in such bad condition that it has some chunks out of its treads:
I wonder if that's causing the noise? The history behind the tire is that the previous owner had it (new, unmounted) when I bought it in 2005. If I recall, the previous owner had it before then, so the tire is almost 10 years old. It's a Nitto and I installed it in 2008.
On my 2000 Porsche Boxster S, it was making a pretty loud noise from the drivetrain - not unlike what I'm hearing on the M5 now. One shop examined it and told me it's the wheel bearings. Another shop told me it's not. I changed the rims (bent) and tires and the road noise went away. The run flat tires ran so loud, it sounded like it was the wheel bearings.
When the front was raised, I took out my stethoscope and listened to bearings while wife spun tires. Driver side has almost continuous metal on metal sound, but not loud (but bearing has almost no load). Passenger side is almost silent and has one short place every revolution where there's a short sound.
It is certainly possible you have something in your alignment out. This might cause a bearing to fail early and give a constant load on the bearing so the sound never changes.
Does it pull or anything,turn better one way compared to the other? Then again that is an old tire. If you look at the side wall you will find a stamping with the date of manufacture on it. The format is which week, then last 2 digits of the year. There definitely should not be a metal sound, but make sure it is not coming from the brake or shield.
I might raise it again and do more diagnostics. On second thought, I may just keep driving it. I only drive this vehicle local (~4K miles a year) and, from a value of time perspective, I'm not sure it's worth investing a lot of time diagnosing it to death. My Envoy had the bearing noise for over 2,500 miles (on trip to Outer Banks from Indiana) and nothing ever blew up.
I had a growling noise from the front at low speeds that got louder as I coasted to a stop. I was convinced it was classic bad wheel brg like I have heard a few times before on GM trucks. I couldn't pin down the wheel (which should have made me suspicious as it was easy on the trucks) so I changed them both. I cut them open only to find they were both in good condition, apart from the grease drying out a bit. I think they were original, so 110k miles on them.
Turned out it was the tires, which looked just like yours, worn and cracked. New tires fixed it completely. I was surprised tires could make a noise like that.