Whistle noise when car is in reverse

juniebug-2006March 4, 2008

I know that recently there was a posting on a whistling noise when the car was in drive, but my whistling noise happens when my car is in reverse or when I'm braking. The brakes do not feel sluggish or grabby at all so I'm hoping that they are okay. Does anyone have any ideas as to what might be wrong?

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It may be a brake wear sensor starting to touch. Can you tell which wheel the noise is coming from? (You may need a second person listening from outside of the car.)

One trick is to open the windows while driving close to a wall, or something that will reflect the sound for you.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 8:45AM
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Hi lucky..

I always caution people about jumping right to "a part to change". While the intention may be to help, the result is quite often money wasted on parts that were not required. Before anyone attempts to guess something like a brake booster or hose is failing all they need to do is re-read the description of the symptom, and then think about what can cause that type of a sound, and of course what other symptoms would be caused by a major vacuum leak.

If a vacuum leak was bad enough to cause a whistle, it would have long before that caused the engine to idle rough, a MIL, maybe even be hard to start, or stall after starting causing the driver to have to re-start the engine several times. The original poster does not say any of that. They only refer to a noise that by my interpretation is occuring when the car is moving, not necessarily when it's standing still. Another clue is them hearing the sound in reverse. That suggests that it is not very loud, and that other parked cars or a wall are being moved past and are reflecting the sound back to the driver. This is quite typical of the description we get when a brake wear sensor is touching the rotor. So, the first step is see if the location of the sound can be identified. If it can be pinpointed to one of the wheels, then a brake inspection is definately required. If it cannot be pin pointed to a wheel, and the sound is there anytime the engine is running, whether the car is moving at low speed OR sitting perfectly still, and an outside observer can identify the source is under the hood, then of course open the hood and follow the sound to it's source.

As a technician, the first step is to verify the customers concern. Then work to identify the cause.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 8:54AM
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Sorry it's taken me so long to respond, but I finally got a chance to listen to my car while someone else drove it in reverse. The noise is coming from the front wheel on the passenger side of the car. I took it into a napa dealer and, using the knowledge from John G, I suggested that the brake sensor was starting to touch. Truthfully I have no idea what that means, but I think it impressed the mechanic! At least I didn't feel like I was being treated like some silly little lady that knows nothing about cars! Since I'm about to take a 1500 mile trip, I've scheduled the car for maintenance work. Thanks a bunch for the help!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 5:09PM
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