Skoda Octavia, tyre noise concern

Car Mechanics Help!


Q   
I have a 2011 Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI five-door MkII which I bought new. Up until 13,000 miles, it was very quiet, but over the next 3000 miles it developed a loud droning noise above 30mph, similar to a wheel bearing going. Myself and the dealer have both checked these and they seem OK. My Skoda dealer tells me it’s due to the rear tyres ‘saw toothing’, as a result of a tracking problem. This is wearing the inside edge of both rear tyres and one is worse than the other (i.e.too much camber,) so I need to have it tracked. I have read a number of articles that suggest I need a four-wheel geometry set-up rather than an alignment/ tracking machine. Is this correct? Having looked on the internet, I understand this is a common problem across the VW and VW derivative range. On these models, I have been told that the rear tracking is adjustable as the Octavia chassis is based on the VW Golf MkIII or MkIV, which have a similar problem. Can you recommend a facility where I can get the geometry set? Preferably this would be somewhere near Sheffield, but I can travel to the right place as this problem is spoiling my enjoyment of an otherwise great car. Also, I understand Skoda have issued revised settings for the rear wheels on Octavias. Can you tell me what they are, as I have looked at various publications but cannot find anything and I would like to make sure the settings are right when I have it retracked? The tyres I use are Dunlop SP Sport 205-60 R15 91V. Are these more susceptible to the problem than other makes of tyres? I read on the internet that somebody had fitted narrower tyres and rims and the problem was reduced. What is the rim size required for these size of tyres? I was thinking of getting some steel rims for when the tracking is done, due to potential damage to the alloys when fitting the tracking measurement devices.
Eddie Machin

A   
According to the data I have available, the JCT600 VW dealership at Meadowhead (0844 875 0683) should be able to carry out four-wheel alignment, they are about nine miles from you. I have never used this company, so can only offer this as a suggestion not a recommendation. The settings have, as you correctly point out, been revised. The old values were: -1° 45min ± 30min, whereas the new values are: -1° 20min ± 30min. Different tyres will have different wear characteristics, but as most tyres now employ the block tread to the edge, it is difficult to say which would fare better. One thing you can do to help eliminate the problem is to swap the front and rear tyres on a regular basis. Always retain the direction of rotation, swapping the tyres front to rear but retaining the tyres on the same side of the vehicle. If you have not yet tried this, I would recommend doing it before completely changing the tyres, as it may silence the noise. I would not recommend a narrower tyre, as it would change the ride and road-holding capabilities of the vehicle. To fit your tyres onto a steel rim, you would need a 7J 15in rim, although modern alignment equipment is very good and should fit on your alloy wheels without causing any scratching or damage.

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