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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 2006 with 158k miles developed a problem five days ago that seemed at first to be a tread separation. Now I think it may be an ABS issue. Need your suggestions.

I drive very long distances, and pull a utility trailer or a 19ft Airstream through mountains. I installed four new Michelin LTX M/S tires at 152000. I
am the only driver and avoid rough conditions, rotating tires, balancing and aligning regularly. The truck has been serviced as Honda suggested at Honda and independent dealers and is in great shape. New front and rear pads at 148k. New front rotors at 130k.

Thursday starting out on interstate for 450mi drive, within about 2-3 miles of getting on interstate the truck developed a rumble, apparently from the front.

The rumble started lightly, then got stronger for about 2-3 minutes. Speed the entire time was 65, although I slowed to 50 in heavy traffic thinking I was having a tire failure and started to head to the side. As I started to pull over, the rumble went away within 20-40 seconds, and all was fine.

I thought maybe I got something stuck on the tread that was coming off. Pulled over, inspected the tires, all fully inflated, no scuffing or tread damage, nothing stuck onto them. As I was slowing, I noticed no change in the rumble while turning or applying brakes. Got the lugnut wrench out, and all were tight.

Temperature on the road was 95 to 100F at the time, hotter than I have used the truck in several years. Pulled back on the road, and within a minute, again the rumble was back. It again ramped up in intensity, peaking at about 2-4 minutes after starting, and then faded out within a minute.

I pulled off to a large parking lot where I could drive in circles and try various maneuvers. The rumble was not there, and did not show up, no matter what I did. I turned, accelerated, braked, and no noise from outside or sense of rumble.

At this point, I'm thinking it is not a tread separation, because I can conceive of no way a separated tread would go back to balanced condition.

I went back on the road again, and sure enough, same scenario. The entire drive for 450mi, every time I stopped for more than a minute or two, the rumble would re-appear, peak, and then fade away.

During the rumble, while there was no sense of the truck pulling to one side or the other, but I sensed a slight lag, as if there was something slowing the truck. It was very subtle and I thought maybe I was imagining it. The trans never up-shifted nor did engine speed rise.

There was no pulling on the steering wheel, no excessive shudder or left-right shimmy, no change when braking or accelerating or turning.

During the drive, whenever we stopped, the rumble would return nearly immediately when getting onto the interstate and up to speed. But soon would fade away. Every time getting back on, the rumble would return. And several times on the long stretches, after fading away, the rumble came back after 30-60 minutes, would be felt for 3-6 minutes at 65-70mph, and fade out again. When the rumble would appear, I would try applying the brakes hard, turning (if safe to do so), accelerating, and shifting into neutral. Nothing made a difference.

The steering wheel never would go side-to-side. I would only feel a rumble, seemingly at the rotation speed of the tire, as it changed with road speed but not engine speed.

When I got to the destination, the next day I went to Discount tire (and getting there the same rumble happened again), and they removed the four wheels, did a road-force balance on each, found all were perfectly balanced, and remounted them. They checked the rotation of the rotors at my request and saw all turned without noise and saw no damage. Studs and lug nuts in good condition. All brake pads looked good. They are not a brake shop, but they did a visual at my request for anything obvious and found nothing. So it seemed that the tires and wheels were not at fault.

Leaving the tire store, again problem returned... Seemed to be in the front as best I could tell, so I decided to swap front left with my full-size spare. Got the truck jack out, and when I checked the lug nuts, they were so hot I could not touch them! The RF, RR, LR were all cool to the touch, but front left were too hot to hold.

I jacked the truck up, removed the LF wheel, and noticed the rotor looked fine, flat polished surface with no grooving, no discoloration, no obvious warp, no obvious wear, pads relatively new. I could turn the LF rotor by hand. I was not dressed for much work, and the temperature was over 105 in the parking lot, but I noticed the calipers could move with some resistance by hand.

Whatever was causing the LF brake to activate was not doing it now. I got the spare back on, and sure enough the problem reappeared and faded out as it has since Thursday.

Sunday while returning home over 450mi, the temperature was much cooler, from about 82 down to 66. The problem did NOT start again until about 20 minutes, temperature 82, speed 70 steady. Again, came and then faded out. I pulled off, and felt the lug nuts, again they were very hot on LF, cool on all other wheels. Got back on road, no rumble for awhile, and pulled off to check lug nuts. All were cool.

The rumble seems to be from the front left, as evidenced by the hot lugnuts.

Calling my Honda dealer who has worked on the ridgeline since new in March 2005, they suggested the caliper may be locked up, but that doesn't explain the way this problem comes and goes.

I believe the tires are not the problem. And the axle shafts are not loose or hot, even after a rumble episode.

I suspect there is something in the ABS system activating the LF brake when it should not.

The truck spends much of the year in the Northeast, driven within yards of the ocean beach for several miles, and gets much exposure to salt spray and moisture. It looks great, and there is no obvious damaging rust or corrosion of the components underneath, but I have had connectors cleaned and relubed for protection.

Could an ABS sensor or circuit cause such a failure? The rumble seems to be at the same rate that the ABS engages when I've felt it during a slide on ice. the rate does not seem to be directly related to truck speed, which seems to suggest the ABS activating.

No codes have ever shown up on this truck, and all diagnostics pass.

I have the shop manual, but cannot find the section on the ABS pulsation rate. Does anyone have that?

Has anyone had this happen? Any suggestions would be of great help.
 

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You say the rotor looked good, no discoloration and the lug nuts are hot to the touch. How about a wheel bearing going bad?

If you can get your hands on a temperature gun you can narrow your search down.
Drive truck and after the rumble appears check the temperatures of the both front rotors. The different should be +/- 10%. If they are, then it is not a brake issue. ( If it's not pulling I wouldn't suspect a brake issue.) Then check the temperature of the hub are near the wheel bearings on both side, again they should be nearly the same. If not then your problem is there.
 

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Wheel bearing or cv joint were my first thoughts... I seriously doubt it's brake or ABS related.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the quick replies.

Back home, I got the truck up this afternoon, looked closely, and find no discoloration of the rotor. The pads are in good shape and don't show any evidence of overheat.

I looked at my service manual which described removal of the wheel speed sensor. I removed the screw which held in the sensor, but the molded mount holding the sensor wire would not move and I didn't want to risk damage.

I agree that it would be hard to explain an ABS sensor fault causing this problem to start at the beginning of a trip, only to disappear after a few miles.

However, it seems that the rumble rate does not change with speed changes, at least at speeds between 55 and 70.. of course, likely I cannot tell. That's why I was suspicious of ABS.

On the other hand, I could not conceive of any braking at the front left not causing a pull to that side.

The bearing seems to be a likely culprit.

Tomorrow I'll be first in at my local Honda dealer and we will see what they find. I'll post the results.

Again, thanks for your helpful views.
Happy Labor Day.
 

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ABS issues would/should illuminate the ABS light or cause it to blink. Honestly, IMO, I don't feel like you have any symptoms that point to a brake problem. Bearings can have a "harmonic point" and not necessarily make noise all the time or at all speeds.
Do let us know what Honda has to say about it.
 
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