Report: Loud Clicking / Chatter Noise From Front Axle
Volvo XC90 Problem
Model Year Affected: 2005
I had a loud clicking or chattering noise that was coming from my left front wheel area on my Volvo. This was somewhat maddening, as it would come and go. When it got so pronounced, I took it to my dealer's mechanic; he heard it, but couldn't pinpoint the exact source. He did rule out wheel bearing failure, and due to its' extreme left location, ruled out any transmission or angle drive issues (which had themselves been recently serviced). Finally, he could only conclude that the front left axle assembly was bad (which has booted inner and outer CV-joints on either end), and recommended it be replaced...which I did. Sadly, the noise was even more pronounced after the "repair." They were stumped, as there was nothing else up in that area that could be causing such a pronounced metalic racket.
On a whim, I pulled the car in our own garage tonight and pulled the left front wheel, then just sat there and studied the wheel hub, brake assembly, rotor, etc., for awhile to look for anomalies. Sure enough, something caught my eye that looked unusual: the protective shield that surrounds the inner front rotor was slightly bent. On closer examination, portions of the metal shroud / shield were worn down a bit, leading me to believe this may have been the noise culprit all along. It was within a 1/16th of an inch of the rotor, meaning it's entirely possible that with our heavy snow environment of late, this was rubbing up against the hub causing all the racket. After a test drive, sure enough. The noise was gone.
So, just a heads up that if you hear a similar sound coming from the front (especially) of your Volvo, check the simplist of things first [e.g. cheaper], then work your way out to the more complex [e.g. more expensive]. Volvo's are really built tough, so premature failure of any of its systems are rare, making such a diagnosis a bit suspect. Initially looking for the easy simple things may be just the ticket to saving you a lot of money in unnecessary repairs. Now, I have to look into getting a lot of money back for something that did not need to be replaced. Cheerio, and good luck.