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1991 Honda Civic wheel squeaks?

Old 01-14-2016
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1991 Honda Civic wheel squeaks?

I have a 1991 Honda Civic. It has 200k miles, but I only drive it about 3,000 miles a year. Recently, a squeaking sound started to come and go, apparently from the left front wheel. The first time I heard it, I was driving past a big park and I actually thought it was birds chirping. When it happens, it starts at around 30 mph.

Braking doesn't seem to affect the sound. I've had no work done on the car, but twice in the past year, I've had to add brake fluid when the brake light came on. I park in the same place, and there appears to be no fluid leak. Someone told me that, as the break pads wear down, you need more break fluid to make up for the missing volume of worn break pad.

Does this sound like a brake issue, and if the sound is still in the on-and-off stage, is it already unsafe?
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Old 01-15-2016
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Re: 1991 Honda Civic wheel squeaks?

Inspect the front brake pads. Maybe the wear indicator is causing the squeak, indicating it's time for a brake job.
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Old 01-15-2016
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Re: 1991 Honda Civic wheel squeaks?

Yeah, I guess that's the only way to know. Thanks.

I was wondering whether this could be deferred since the squeak comes and goes, I don't do any sudden braking, and the brakes still feel ok. But I realize nobody's going to recommend ignoring a possible brake problem.
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Old 01-15-2016
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Re: 1991 Honda Civic wheel squeaks?

No, don't ignore it. Take care of it now.
If it's wear indicator squeaking, there's about 1mm or less (friction material) on the pad that's making noise.

If it quits squeaking, the wear indicator may have broken off. They do that.

The next noise will be much louder and more expensive when the brakes go metal to metal.




If it's not worn out brake pads, then at least you have a good idea of how much brake you have left now. And you can look for other causes.
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Old 01-20-2016
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Re: 1991 Honda Civic wheel squeaks?

Thanks. Following your advice, I took it in to the mechanic. The car wasn't making the squealing noise, so they couldn't diagnose it. However, I found out that the reason I had had to add brake fluid was that, the rear brakes were leaking fluid, just very slowly.

They replaced the rear shoes and wheel cylinders, and they told me the master cylinder might be leaking too, but that they couldn't tell for sure, and that I should keep an eye on any changes in how the car braked.

Well, two days later, I notice that breaking repeatedly, like five or six times at low speed in the same block, and the pedal starts going lower and lower, and as I press the pedal more and more, you hear a sound like rubber rubbing against something, like when you rub an inflated balloon.

So I guess I'll take it back. Jeez, before, it was braking normally. I do trust the shop, though, so it could be worse.
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Old 01-21-2016
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Re: 1991 Honda Civic wheel squeaks?

I'm sure they'll fix it this time. I really wonder by the way why is your car never fixed from the first time you take it.
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Old 06-07-2016
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Re: 1991 Honda Civic wheel squeaks?

Sorry for the delay replying. The shop explained that leaking master cylinders can be hard to diagnose because the leaking is internal. They also explained that replacing wheel cylinders can push a master cylinder over the edge because the wheel cylinders are no longer leaking, putting greater stress on the master cylinder. At least I think that's what they said. They're nice, but their English isn't very good and my Chinese is non-existent, so a lot of detail gets lost.

Anyway, brakes are fine now, but I do have a wheel bearing wearing out on the front, left wheel. That was the squeaking four months ago, apparently. The wheel still squeaks from time to time, and additionally, there's a sound like gravel sloshing around in a tin bucket. This sound is very low. I only hear it when I coast past a raised curb or a line of parked cars as the sound bounces back.

Money is very tight right now, so what I'd like to know how far can I defer replacing this wheel bearing. Will the noise get louder and louder? What are the consequences of waiting too long? Do wheel bearings fail catastrophically? Like I said, I only drive about 250 miles a month.

Thanks all for any input.
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Old 06-07-2016
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Re: 1991 Honda Civic wheel squeaks?

Bad bearing will make noise, eventually sound like an airplane flying next to you. Normal and sane people would notice that and fix it right away.


Once a bearing is bad enough to let the wheel have free play and feel loose, that's dangerous IMO. (Often found in cars belonging to people with LOUD radios LOL....sometimes the same people have scary brakes because they can't hear the warning sounds)

You want to roll the dice and see how far it can go before you're stranded in the middle of a busy intersection or crash because a wheel no longer points the same direction as the other three?
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Old 06-08-2016
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Re: 1991 Honda Civic wheel squeaks?

No, man, I don't want to roll the dice. But like I said, money is very tight right now, to the point where it's do I pay the light bill or the phone bill this month. I mean, if money weren't tight, I wouldn't be driving a 25-year-old car with almost 250k miles on it.

And I know that lots of repairs that need to be done don't have to be done right this minute, so I was asking for an objective assessment. I never turn the radio on (I don't think it works), and the steering doesn't feel any different. The only real symptom is that low growl that sounds like stirring gravel in metal bucket. I wouldn't hear it if I didn't have the window down. I only drive 12 miles a day, and it's all city driving.

You say that the sound will get much louder (an airplane flying next to me?). Certainly, by then I'll have it repaired. Would you expect a catastrophic failure before the sound gets louder? Thanks.
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Old 06-08-2016
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Re: 1991 Honda Civic wheel squeaks?

and the steering doesn't feel any different.
I meant when you jack the car up so the wheel and tire are off the ground,

grab the wheel at 3 oclock and 9 oclock and shake it, then grab it at 12 oclock and 6 oclock and shake it that direction. There should be no free play in any direction....If you notice free play then you'd have to figure out where that originates (meaning you can't immediately condemn just the bearing without verification, there are many things in the suspension that can wear and cause free play).
You say that the sound will get much louder (an airplane flying next to me?).
I can't say it absolutely will, but most do.

That 'airplane noise' seems to be a typical point when an average driver notices something amiss and brings it to the shop.


Of course, some people are very "in tune with their car" and notice unusual noises at the onset long before they get loud, then there are other people who could be driving down the road with the car on fire and still wouldn't know anything is wrong until the car can't move under its own power.
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Old 06-09-2016
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Re: 1991 Honda Civic wheel squeaks?

Thanks for the information. I'm definitely in tune with the noises the car makes. I've jokingly called myself a "carpochondriac" (like hypochondriac, get it?) because I'll worry about a new noise and then realize the noise is coming from the car driving next to me. LOL

The wheel first squeaked six months ago, so it seems to be a very slowly developing problem, probably because I drive so little. I'll make sure to take it in before it sounds like an airplane. I've been interviewing for a better job, so hopefully, money won't be so tight by then.
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