What Is a Wheel Bearing? Diagnosing a Wheel Bearing Noise

Updated on January 27, 2019
eddiecarrara profile image

Eddie spent 35 years in the automotive business with Honda. He is an ASE Certified Master Technician and has bruised knuckles to prove it.

A bearing in its race.
A bearing in its race. | Source

Your mechanic says you need a wheel bearing, but you wonder "What is that?" I will make this as easy as possible to understand, with pictures, video, and my own interpretation. I'll tell you what a wheel bearing is, its job, where it's located, and what it sounds like when it's damaged.

What Is a Wheel Bearing?

A wheel bearing is a set of steel balls held together by a metal ring called a race. They help wheels spin fast with as little friction as possible. They are used on all kinds of vehicles, from bicycles to aircraft and cars. On a car, a wheel bearing rides on a metal axle shaft and fits tightly inside the hub, which is a hollow chunk of metal at the center of the wheel. The hub holds the lug bolts that you use to bolt the tire onto the wheel. The wheel bearing is pressed into the hub from the back.

What Does a Bad Wheel Bearing Sound Like?

When bearings are damaged and making noise, it's hard to diagnose because you have to drive the vehicle in order to reproduce the sound. Here are tips to help you find the source of the problem:

  • When the seal on the wheel bearing is broken or damaged, the noise starts out very faint and becomes louder over time. It sounds like the noise that your tires make when hitting a rumble strip on the highway, just not quite as loud, something like the sound of playing cards flapping against bicycle spokes.
  • While driving down the road about 40 mph, sway the car side to side slowly, shifting the weight of the vehicle from one side to the other. Do not drive crazy or cause the car to spin out, just sway it gently. Notice whether the noise gets louder or softer. If the noise is a little less if you turn right, the damaged bearing may be on the left, or vice versa.
  • Note that tires that are "chopped" or "scalloped" (worn in patches) also make a rhythmic noise that increases in speed. This sounds very similar to a bad wheel bearing. Look at your tires as well if you hear this kind of noise.

Wheel Bearing Noise With a Tire Noise: Very Loud and Vibrating

A bearing inside a hub.
A bearing inside a hub. | Source

Helicopter Noise From Your Car, What is it?

The wheel bearing is pressed into a hub.
The wheel bearing is pressed into a hub. | Source

Why Do Wheel Bearings Make Noise?

Most wheel bearings are hardened steel and can withstand a lot of abuse. Its two worst enemies are heat and water. Heat caused by lack of lubrication can destroy a wheel bearing. Water that penetrates a sealed bearing will also destroy it.

Most wheel bearings manufactured today are sealed. They come from the factory pressed together as an assembly: front race, bearing set, center race, bearing set, and outer race, with seals on both the front and rear. Seals protect bearings from the elements, water, and debris, and they also seal in the high-temperature grease the bearing needs. When a seal is broken or damaged, the wheel bearing will fail and start making noise.

Damaged wheel bearing race
Damaged wheel bearing race

Pinpointing the Source of Bearing Noise

As explained in the video below, if you really want to know whether your noise is a bearing noise and you can get the car up on a lift, you can use an improvised stethoscope (actually a big screwdriver) to listen to the sound and find out where it's coming from. Have someone in the vehicle start it and run it at about 40 mph. Using a long screwdriver or stethoscope, rest it on the hub near each wheel bearing. Careful! Don't let the tool touch a moving part, or it could fly up and hit you. Listen through the handle of the screwdriver (or through the stethoscope) for the noise, and I guarantee you will be able to determine which bearing is bad.

Wheel Bearing Noise Amplified by a Screwdriver Handle

Replacing Your Wheel Bearing

Wheel bearings do not fail immediately, and usually give you some time before you need to have them replaced. I suppose if a wheel bearing failed completely it could lock up and prevent the car from moving. Then again, my daughter drove on a noisy bearing for six months and nothing happened except that it got louder and louder.

You shouldn't necessarily have the bearings on both sides replaced. Just because one fails is no reason to think the others are about to; bearings should last a long time.

Replacing one is a bit expensive because of the labor involved. There are a lot of parts to remove and get out of the way before you can get to the wheel bearing, especially on a four-wheel-drive or front-wheel-drive vehicle. It's a difficult job to do yourself without a press, because it's a tight fit getting the bearing in and out of the hub. It's less work (though more expense for parts) to replace the whole hub and bearing as a unit.

Wheel Bearing Noise and What it Sounds Like

Please Ask Questions or Comment Below!

I hope this article helped you. If you have a question, please feel free to leave it in the comments box, I will answer it as soon as possible. Your questions are welcome and help other readers.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

  • How much will it cost to replace the wheel bearing?

    This all depends on the vehicle and where it's located on the vehicle. There is a big difference in labor between a Honda Civic rear wheel bearing and a Ford F250 rear wheel bearing. The average cost is about 2 hours labor for a front wheel bearing.

  • What should I get done first: wheel bearings, or brake pads and rotors?

    There is some overlap in labor and you could save a few bucks doing them at the same time, so if you can borrow the money to do both jobs together it would be ideal. I don't know how bad the wheel bearing is, so I can't say which is more important.

  • When the mechanic says there was play on the wheels and the wheel bearings need to be replaced, how bad is that?

    It means either the locking wheel bearing nut was loose or the wheel bearing is worn enough to have some clearance. Usually if the wheel bearing is noisy it because of damage, but if the wheel bearing was loose because the nut backed off and there was no noise, the nut may have just needed to be tightened.

  • My car only has 12,000 miles on it. It was stuttering and not responding on and off when I would push the gas pedal. The dealership has had it for four weeks and is now thinking that my wheel bearing needs replaced. Is this unusual? Should I be concerned that I will have further problems?

    The problem you're having has nothing to do with wheel bearings; it sounds more like you have an issue with the throttle position sensor or mass airflow sensor.

  • I hear a grinding noise in the front wheel area, do you think its a wheel bearing?

    A wheel bearing noise is similar to a hum and is usually heard above 25 mph. If this is what you are hearing it's a good possibility a worn wheel bearing is what you are hearing.

© 2011 Eddie Carrara

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    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 weeks ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Wesley,

      Sorry about the slow reply, It may not be a wheel bearing, I could also be a locking hub malfunctioning or worn brake pads, I highly recommend getting it checked if you haven't yet. Let me know what you find, thanks.

    • profile image

      Wesley Nash 

      3 weeks ago

      I have a 2007 hummer h3 i think the hub is going bad it is making a really bad metal on metal sound it went from just barely able to hear it to omg i think the tire is falling off really fast. What else can it be or where is a good place to start ? Thanks in advance

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 weeks ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Shirley,

      There are a lot of things that can cause a thumping noise, the most common is tires, so if you're cruising and not touching the brakes and not turning and you're hearing a thumping noise, have your tires checked for uneven wear or cupping. If the tires look good and have a smooth tread then you'll need to dig deeper.

    • profile image

      Shirley 

      3 weeks ago

      My car is a GMC Jimmy I hear what sounds like a thumbing noise seems like On the passage side, even when drive slow what could it be?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 weeks ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Brendan,

      Most likely y the noise is a wheel bearing, it may sound different because it's in the rear, there really is no common sound for a wheel bearing because there are many different styles. I doubt it's a tire noise unless you can actually see damage to the tire but anything is possible.

    • profile image

      Brendan Millar 

      5 weeks ago

      I slid into a curb last night, the left side of the my car took the brunt of the force, but my rear wheel rim appeared to be the only thing damaged. I got it replaced yesterday. However now when I drive above

      60km/hr(Canadian) I hear a noticeable oscillating low frequency sound, hard to describe, but its constant wrrrWRRwrrr and other then noise level speed doesn’t effect it. Its loudest at 80km hr. it doesn’t sound like a wheel bearing(womwomwom). Im wondering if a tire could be damaged or something else. My steering wheel isn’t vibrating, doesn’t feel ‘loose’.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 weeks ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Marc,

      One wheel bearing per wheel/hub. If they refuse to believe, then ask them "what is causing the noise?" If they changed the wheel bearing because of the noise and the noise is still there, simply tell them that the noise is the same as before and they didn't fix anything.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 weeks ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Denise,

      Thank you :)

      I recommend you drive it for a few days and if the wheel bearing is still making noise, take it in to have it diagnosed. Usually, only one wheel bearing fails at a time, especially if it just started making noise, its rare two or more fail at the same time so beware. Let me know if you have more questions.

    • profile image

      Denise 

      5 weeks ago

      Hi Eddie

      First I’d like to tell you how kind and so knowledgeable you are. It’s hard out here to know what to do. Well, I have a Saturn Vue 2006, just yesterday I noticed a hum as I go and it starts in about 40 mph. We did have a lot of rain the other day and sandy dirt under. Should I first spray out the wheels then test it again, or just take it to a mechanic?

    • profile image

      marc 

      5 weeks ago

      2000 saturn sl1.

      how many bearings on one front hub assembly unit?

      I had left side replaced noise became worse. company refuses to believe it is the bearing.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      6 weeks ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Valerie,

      How did you make out with the tires? Is the noise gone?

    • profile image

      Valerie Robinson 

      7 weeks ago

      Thank you Eddie, will be changing all 4 tyres tomorrow will let you know if the noise disappears.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      7 weeks ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Valerie,

      Usually a wheel bearing is a steady noise that increases with vehicle speed not a rotating noise, what you might be hearing is uneven tire tread noise. I recommend you check your tires for uneven wear or have someone check your tires for you that has some knowledge about tire wear. Let me know what you find or if you have more questions.

    • profile image

      Valerie Robinson 

      7 weeks ago

      Hi Eddie, I own a 2008 Toyota Yaris and recently started to hear a woo woo noise from the front right side when the car is just rolling at say 30m/h. It even shook a bit. Please what do you think this is?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      7 weeks ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Elyse,

      It sounds like either you have a loose exhaust heat shield, rotor backing plate, or hubcap. I recommend checking all your hubcaps first because that's the easiest check, if all looks good check for any loose rotor backing plates, if all is ok, have the exhaust checked for any loose heat shields. Keep me posted on what you find, thanks.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      7 weeks ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Jo Ann,

      Most likely the mechanic bent the rotor backing plate and it is now rubbing the rotor while driving. I recommend you bring it back so they can adjust the backing plate, it should only take a few minutes or you could try bending it out of the way yourself. Let me know what you find, thanks.

    • profile image

      Jo Ann 

      7 weeks ago

      I have a 2012 Subaru legacy with 140,000 miles

      Always have it maintained

      Just had rear bearings replace is dealership where I purchased car. I always go in to have a safety inspection. To make sure all is OK.

      Brakes, oil change, etc.

      On my way to my grandson's Christmas eve mass I turned the corner and this loud scraping metal sound coming from the rear of the car. Thought I picked something up. Stopped and looked did not see anything. Proceeded to go and it got even worse.

    • profile image

      Elyse 

      8 weeks ago

      I am hearing a noise in my front driver tire but it's not all the time. Usually when I have driven for a while and it happens when I change speeds or go over any kind of bump. It's sound like a "tink"... sort of like hitting a pie pan or a low symbol. Is this the wheel bearing?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      2 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Ben,

      Sometimes when swaying a car left to right while driving at a steady speed, the wheel bearing noise will be more pronounced in one direction or the other so the noise you're hearing could be a wheel bearing.

    • profile image

      Ben 

      2 months ago

      Hi so if it doesn’t hum it’s not a wheel bearing prob? What if it sounds and feels like grinding when at higher speeds when I turn to the wheel that makes the noise? The brakes aren’t touching the rust that is on the caliper but that side caliper is warped

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      2 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Winnie,

      Most likely you hear a wheel bearing, the noise will disappear when coming to a stop. I recommend having an experienced mechanic check out the noise and diagnose the location. Let me know what you find, thanks.

    • profile image

      Winnie 

      2 months ago

      Hello Eddie,

      My car has this helicopter noise, it's clearly heard when am driving but brakes/slows down to stop.

      What could this be?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      2 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Carole,

      That sounds insane to me. I recommend getting a new mechanic. The rubbing noise you're hearing is either the rotor backing plate hitting the rotor or a small rock between the rotor and backing plate or your brake pads are getting low and the wear indicator is touching the rotor. Let me know what your new mechanic finds :)

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      2 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Ben,

      You may have two different problems, I recommend getting the wheels balanced for the vibration, and for the grinding noise I recommend inspecting the edge of the rotors and calipers for any contact points. It's possible the rust edge on the rotors is contacting the calipers on hard turns.

    • profile image

      Ben 

      2 months ago

      Hi mr. Carrara it would be awesome if you could give me an answer about a noise on left wheel that feels like the tire is coming off and vibrates and has a grinding noise, not a hum like your videos. It does it most at high speeds turning left. I jacked it up and didn’t feel any play in the wheel. Lug nuts are tight. Thanks)

    • profile image

      Carole 

      2 months ago

      I noticed a tire rub noise from the front drivers side. The faster i go the louder it gets. A mechanic said it is the rack and pinion and needs to be replaced and that the noise is the tire rubbing because the wheel is wobbling. How dies that sound to you?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      2 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Kirstin,

      I wonder if what you are hearing is air bubbles in the coolant passing through the heater core. The heater core is located behind the dash inside the vehicle and when air bubbles pass through at low RPM's it makes a gurgling sound. The rubbing sounds may be something the mechanic did unless you heard that noise too before the repairs were done. I recommend you take it back to the mechanic so they can check there work and also asks them to listen to the gurgling sound. Hope this helps, keep me posted on what they say, thanks.

    • profile image

      Kristin 

      2 months ago

      Hi Eddie,

      I have a 2015 Dodge Durando. I started hearing a gurgling or bubbling sound that seems to come from the driver front end (sounds like in the motor above the wheel well). The noise starts at a stop, when starting to accelerate from a stop, and when turning the wheel (mostly to the left) and the car is a little warmed up. It does not happen during normal driving. I have also noticed that when i hit the gas from a stop, I feel and hear a slight "rub" for a couple of seconds and as a speed up a bit all the noises go away.

      I brought it in for service, a bunch or work was done, the noise is still there. Clearly they did not drive it or diagnose properly. You can't miss this noise.

      Your thought on what could be wrong would be greatly appreciated !! Thank you !!!!

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi MomNinja,

      I suppose any emergency stopping situation would put a vehicle with 211k miles under a lot of stress and could stress out the bearing or could have sped up the wear process, its just weird you don't hear it under 50 mph. If you use an experienced mechanic, they can use a stethoscope on each bearing to find out if that is in fact the noise, some mechanics just guess. The noise you're describing sounds like a wheel bearing to me so have it checked out. Let me know if you have any other questions, thanks.

    • profile image

      MomNinja 

      3 months ago

      Hi Eddie,

      I came across your posts after searching to get an idea of what might be causing my problem. I have a 2005 Honda Odyssey. It’s got over 211,000 miles on it. It’s rapidly approaching needing new brakes (if it’s not already there, I drive it a LOT). Can an extremely hard braking event cause the bearings to go out?

      The other day I was on the interstate and a car that was going much slower moved into my lane, then promptly hit their brakes, hard. Thankfully I was watching and was already preparing to slow down, but I didn’t expect them to slow so drastically so quickly. I had to really press my brakes hard and as I did, I heard a low rumbling sound not typical of the van as I slowed down.

      Afterwards, it was making the helicopter noise to the extent that I pulled over thinking I had a flat tire. The tires are new and properly inflated.

      The van now consistently makes the helicopter noise when my speed hits between 50-55 MPH, but not before that speed, and decreases once I pass 55 MPH.

      Could the hard braking have caused a wheel bearing to go bad or just amplified the issue?

      Thanks for any insight. I know it’s hard to tell without looking at the vehicle specifically.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Kathy,

      It sounds like you main mechanic is the one who is honest. They may be a little more expensive but it sound like they do the job right and may even use better long lasting parts. I recommend you stay with your main mechanic and always follow your gut.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Anthony,

      The description sounds like a wheel bearing to me. It's possible the axle nut was not torqued to spec and cause the bearing to wear prematurely, or the seal was defective and debris caused the bearing to fail.

    • profile image

      Anthony Ricci 

      3 months ago

      I am having a sound, what sounds like its from my front driver side tire and it makes a noise like there is card in my bicycle spokes. This last July to August, I replaced my hub assemblies, upper n lower ball joints, brake pads, and even got an alignment done with new tires. So most say its the wheel bearing, but I even took the front end apart to try to find any inconsistency. But there wasnt one. Got any ideas?

    • profile image

      kathy mann 

      3 months ago

      The mechanic that I've taken my car to twice now for an exhaust job (not the same exhaust job) told me my rear wheel bearings are going bad, Mind you I have heard no airplane noise and no play in the wheel or shaking at 50 or less mph. He said I will plus my breaks will go down to the floor. Yes, I am getting a second opinion because he did not specify which bearing either and I think he is now trying to be dishonest. He said it isn't an emergency and it could wait a couple months. Also, he said they may never go bad. It sounds fishy to me now. My mechanic I use for all my other jobs test drove my car last week because I heard a noise in the front and thought it was a loose lug nut but he told me it was the exhaust so I went somewhere else for a lower price for work which was this mechanic that said I need rear wheel bearings. I do believe my main mechanic would have caught it because not only did they drive it around the block they had it up on the rack. No they did not drive it 50 mph but still he would have experienced play in the steering wheel. I really don't need to bother with this meaning a second opinion. Right? Thank you...Oh I have a 2003 Rav4 with 166,000 mph.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Cary,

      I don't know parts prices, sorry. I can tell you that it will be about 6 hours labor ( what ever the labor rate is) plus parts.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Rhonda,

      I think you have two different problems.

      1. You have a damaged wheel bearing in the rear.

      2. The tires need to be inspected and balanced if the tire condition is ok.

    • profile image

      Rhonda Fishman 

      3 months ago

      I have a Honda Accord 2013.

      The noise accelerate in the back as I increase speed.

      My mechanic drove my car and told me I need rear ball bearings.

      At the same time my steering wheel at 60 miles per hour Shake slightly,

      Can all that be related to the same problem and is it dangerous driving because this just started

    • profile image

      Cary 

      3 months ago

      How much am I looking at to replace both front hub bearings, rotors and brakes on a 2003 Monte Carlo SS

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Dallas,

      If its not a sealed bearing you can repack it with wheel bearing grease, but I don't recommend taking apart a sealed bearing.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Damon,

      There is no mileage limit on wheel bearings, I've seen wheel bearing last over 300k on some vehicles. It's unusual for two wheel bearings to fail at the same time so I recommend getting a second opinion on which wheel bearing has failed.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Tiffany,

      It's always good to have the bearing checked just to be sure there is not a lot of play or looseness in the bearing, noise is usually the first sign bearings are failing.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Logan,

      Yes, most likely the noise is a wheel bearing, usually only one wheel bearing will make noise, and it rare to have two fail at the same time, so keep that in mind when the mechanic says wheel bearings (plural). Keep me posted on what you find, thanks.

    • profile image

      Logan Marcum 

      3 months ago

      Hi, Eddie - I have a 2011 Ford Focus with 169k on it and after getting new tires Friday, I noticed a roar like a prop plane that gets worse with speed and not RPM's. Hadn't heard it before the new tires, so I went back and they told me it was likely wheel bearings. I did the swerve test and the noise is worse when I swerve but there's no vibration or pull to either side and the ride is still smooth. Based on this does it still sound like bearings? I do have rough engine vibration at idle as well, so I'm not sure if there might be something else at play.Thanks!

    • profile image

      Tiffany Dorsett 

      3 months ago

      Thanks for the info, mine started making noise this week but got to wait to pay day to fix it. Knowing your daughter drive for a minute without incident calms my nerves.

    • profile image

      Damon Lupton 

      4 months ago

      have a 2016 Mitsubishi outlander sport...they tell me i need to new front wheel bearings...it's a single family car...76000 miles on it...no hard driving serviced when needed...does this sound normal for a car 2 years old...i thought you get 100000 miles out of bearings under normal driving????

    • profile image

      Dallas 

      4 months ago

      Can I take out the rear hub and regrease my bearing... Or copper slip it.. Put it back? Mk3 galaxy

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Dan,

      keep in mind that wheels get hot while driving because of the brakes, especially after exiting the highway. It take a lot of force and friction from the brake pads and calipers to stop a 4k pound vehicle at 60 mph. If one bearing is getting hotter than all the other bearings you may have a caliper sticking.

    • profile image

      Dan 

      4 months ago

      Hi my bearing does not make noise just gets hot not extreamly just hot after 15 minutes of Hwy or more not in town

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Lowelshan,

      The noise you're describing sounds like a wheel bearing. There is no machine to test a wheel bearing or axles, it is tested by the mechanics experience and the ability to listen and feel. I recommend getting a second opinion because there is no reason to remove any of these parts to test them. I Hope you didn't pay to have them removed and tested.

    • profile image

      Lowelshan 

      4 months ago

      Hey Eddie! Great information. . I have a question for you my girlfriends 2010 Pontiac vibe recently had a transmission replaced last month , last weekend it started sounding like there was an airplane taking off when she hit 40 miles an hour coming from the front wheels. the sound gets louder the faster she drives or the longer she drives the car . There are no clicking sounds the car doesn't change noise when you turn and a mechanic recently took it apart and checked her axles for differentials for wheelbearings and doesn't believe any of those are the culprit however the noise is still persisting . The noise possibly be a will bearing even though he took it out and put it on a machine to test whether not the wheel bearing was having issues ? Other than that we're stamped and I'm afraid for her to drive the car . Please help!

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Donna,

      Glad you found me :)

      There are a lot possibilities why the bearing is making noise again, but I don't think one of them is because of the car lol. Usually if the bearing failed again that quick, it's either a problem with installation or the manufacturer, there are other possibilities as well, but those are the two most common from my experience. I think you just need to trade this vehicle in and drive what you want and put your mind at ease lol.

    • profile image

      Donna 

      4 months ago

      Hey Eddie! Just found you when looking up what I think is a wheel bearing issue, great site!. My question is, I've had both of my front wheel bearings replaced within the last year to 18 months. I do put significant mileage on my 2013 Nissan Altima, approximately 25K a year. Is it unusual to have to replace them so often? Or is it this vehicle, which I do not like at all and can't wait to trade in, btw. lol . TIA!

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Anne :)

      Track me down in a good way I hope lol. There are a lot of honest mechanics out there but they seem to be spread thin among the hungry crowd, once you find a good one, you will most likely follow them until they retire. Thanks for taking the time to update me on your situation, it really helps other readers understand the possibilities of being taken for a ride :)

    • profile image

      Anne 

      5 months ago

      Hi Eddie,

      Thanks so much for answering my question. You were totally right, once the Firestone re-replaced the one they had done 6 months ago the noise was gone. And I am so relieved!! I am sort of bummed that 2 out of the 3 shops I went to wanted to take advantage. I feel like the independent shop was straight with me so that's where I will be going from here on. I'm down in Alabama otherwise I would be trying to track you down! Thanks again :)

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Anne,

      I think you have a few garages who what to take advantage of you. It's extremely rare to have all 4 wheel bearings fail at once. I recommend having just the one replaced free of charge and tell them you'll come back for the other two. Once they replace the right front, drive it and see if the noise is gone, if you still have noise, bring it back to the 3rd independent and have them recheck it. If you lived near NH I would love to help you out with this lol. Let me know what happens :)

    • profile image

      anne 

      5 months ago

      2010 Subaru outback. About 6 months ago I had my right front wheel bearing replaced. the roaring was improved for a time, but came back. this time I took it to the dealership which said now that all 4 needed to be replaced. I have heard that its rare for 2 to go out at one time let alone 4, so I took it to a 3rd independent shop who said he thought it was just the front ones, he replaced the left front and I took it back to the first shop, a Firestone, to re-replace the right front free of charge since it was less than a year ago. They did not know I had just replaced the front left the week before and said that all 4 needed to be replaced. What is happening here?

    • profile image

      James 

      5 months ago

      Thanks Eddie, the bearing was fitted on the left front but the noise turning left was still apparent and they told me it was the right now needing a replacement, think Ive been taken for a ride. they said they used a stethoscope and the left was the culprit, but I find it odd replacing the left made no difference to the symptoms I took it in for and them then saying its the right.

      Appreciate you taking the time to answer my post, have a great day.

      James

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi cchamm,

      Yes, if the wheel bearing is very loud sometimes too can hold the coil spring and feel which bearing is making the noise, a stethoscope is the best method.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi James,

      The thesis mentions is not concrete, but is pretty accurate most of the time. The best way to diagnose a wheel bearing noise is to have the car on the lift and use a stethoscope to listen to each bearing as the wheels rotate, the noisy wheel bearing is very easy to hear when using this method.

    • profile image

      James 

      5 months ago

      Hi, great article - you mention if its noisier turning right it's likely the left bearing and vice versa. How nailed on is that theory?

      I have noise when I turn left only but the mechanic changed the left front wheel bearing hub and I still have the same symptoms as before. no change after fitting it and they now say my right one needs replacing because of this noise (which was there when I took it in). I think they've got it wrong changing the left hub. what would you think? Regards James

    • profile image

      cchamm 

      6 months ago

      What a great article and videos, thanks!

      I have a 2010 Impala and am experiencing a noise like in the videos.

      However, it does not change when turning the wheel. I've heard also that by holding the coil spring while spinning the wheel you can feel the bad bearing vibration.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      6 months ago from New Hampshire

      HaHa, Nice pun Owen.

      Sometimes that is the only way to buy a bearing is with the hub assembly, hopefully you're is just a bearing so you can keep the ball rolling at low cost :)

    • profile image

      Owen 

      6 months ago

      thanks for article...very good job. I have a 2009 Optima making loud noise. I thought it was just the car getting older and I didn't want to believe something was wrong. When I brought it to a mechanic, he must have heard me say the car gets louder as a drive...that tipped him off. My concern is that the hub will have to be replaced as well, because that will be more expensive. but I'm ready to pay. the noise is over "bearing"

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      6 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Catherine,

      It sounds like you may have two different problems. The thump may be brake pad impressions on the rotors and the high pitched squeal could be the wear indicator on the brake pads warning you the pads may need to be replaced soon.

    • profile image

      Catherine McNamara 

      6 months ago

      I have a 2001 Saturn L200. When slowing car down to a stop there is a noise sounding from right back passenger side? Starts around 15 mph as I slow more the noise gets quieter. Noise sounds a bit high pitch but with a thump? Thank you for your time, Catherine

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      6 months ago from New Hampshire

      What can I do for you Rajath?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      6 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Elisabeth :)

      I love to hear that my boring articles actually help people lol. I'm so glad you found what you're looking for :) Let me know if I can answer any questions for you.

    • profile image

      Elizabeth 

      6 months ago

      Woohoo!

      Your site is a breath of fresh air amongst the painful tomes of self-efficacy, laboriously tedious advice and guidance on what, realistically, could be wrong with our 4 wheeled work-horses!

      Thank you. Thank you. And, thank you!

      I now feel confident to go to my garage with a fair idea of what's wrong with my elderly yet still sprightly Merc R170.

      Thank you! You've been bookmarked in Favourites

    • profile image

      Rajath 

      6 months ago

      Hi ,

      My car was involved in collision , my parked car was hit by another SUV from the back, rear portion of the car was badly damaged, right side wheels both front and rear came in contact with with curb,there fresh scratches on the wheel plates, after collision I am hearing a noise from the right side of the car and mechanic confirmed that it is due to wheel bearing issue,but he is not able confirm it is because of collision and due to this insurance company is not ready to cover this up.Please help

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      6 months ago from New Hampshire

      You're welcome Ryan, thanks for coming back. with an update.

    • profile image

      ryanbalmes 

      7 months ago

      Thanks a lot Eddie. You were right. There's a problem with the brake pads.

    • profile image

      Jessica 

      7 months ago

      Hi!

      I have a 2009 volvo s40. I started to notice a loud hum at high speeds that’s gotten increasingly louder, it’s only noticeable from inside the car, It goes away when turning left and there’s s very soft steak when braking. Tires, brakes and rotors are good so I assume it’s the wheel bearing. The hum seems loudest when staying steady at 40mph and only gives a very subtle vibration, nothing insane or scary, The tire doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall off but the roar is so loud now. My dad replaced my axel which has helped but barely as he suspects the bearing as well. I’m going to my parents in three weeks (3 hour drive) so I wanted to ask if you agree it’s the bearing and if it’s safe to drive until I go there and he can replace it?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      7 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Alex,

      I recommend checking the brake pad thickness of all inner pads. It sounds like your brake pad wear indicator is starting to touch the rotor warning you that your brakes will need replacing soon. Let me know what you find, thanks.

    • profile image

      Alex 

      7 months ago

      Hi, i replaced my both front bearings around 15 days ago but "sometimes" i can still hear some noises (Cricket noise) specially when i'am in highway. I just wonder what could be the problem? why can i hear that just "sometimes"?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      7 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Ryan,

      It sounds like something is caught between the rotor and backing plate. I recommend locating the noise and removing the wheel and checking for any signs of rubbing or debris caught between the rotor and backing plate, also check the brake pads while you're in there.

    • profile image

      ryanbalmes 

      7 months ago

      Hello. Last Friday I heard an airplane noise from my car. At first, I thought it was an airplane landing or taking off. Can you tell me what the problem could be? The noise is random and there is no issue when the car is idle.

      https://youtu.be/ut5IMzvnzOE

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      7 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Nicole,

      Is there any way you could take a video of the noise, upload it to YouTube and send me a link so I can take a listen? There a a lot of things that can clunk when braking because suspension parts want to move forward when applying the brakes and there is a lot of stress on the suspension. The noise could also be coming from the brakes themselves if something is loose.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      7 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Mel,

      Take a look at your tires for uneven wear. It's weird that the noise is only when braking, did you just have the brakes done? Did the noise start after the brake repair or did you hear it before the work was done?

    • profile image

      Mel 

      7 months ago

      I'm getting a revolution whirring sound coming from the rear of my astra 2003, it's mainly on braking. Ive just had my front & rear brakes overhauled so this is not the problem any ideas, could it be an axle or wheel bearing?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      7 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Cassie,

      I'm glad I could help, but sad you have to spend the money. It's always good to call around to get a second quote, shop quotes can sometimes vary by hundreds of dollars. BTW, Cassie is my daughters name :)

    • profile image

      Nicole 

      7 months ago

      my rear driver side side makes a louder clunking noise whenever I brake. I’ve taking it to three different mechanics and no one knows what it could be.

    • profile image

      Cassie 

      7 months ago

      I dont have a question but this really helped me diagnose my car! Its going to be an expensive fix for us unfortunately but at least we confirmed what the shop said.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      7 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Summer,

      No, a wheel bearing has nothing to do with ride hight, more likely the springs are getting weak and the truck is starting to sag.

    • profile image

      Summer Gobert 

      8 months ago

      Hi I have a 2002 Chevy Silverado and I was told my wheel bearing was bad but I noticed my front end of truck looks like it is sitting a lot lower. Would that be caused from a wheel bearing?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      8 months ago from New Hampshire

      Thanks Prashanth, I appreciate the feedback :)

    • profile image

      prashanth 

      8 months ago

      Very useful.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      8 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Ryan,

      Check the clearance of the rotor and backing plate all the way around on the side you hear the noise, if it's ok, you may have a pebble or rust stuck between the rotor and backing plate. Let me know what you find.

    • profile image

      Ryan 

      8 months ago

      My front passenger side has a screeching sound off and on, only when driving, and it doesn't change based on braking or slowing down. It only stops when turning the steering wheel to the right. Nothing obvious is wrong with the breaks or pads, and the boots inside the tire seem to all be fine, with the exception of my inner tie rod boot (but i didn't think that made any screeching noise when driving).

      Is it possible for the bearings to make a screeching instead of a whirring noise? I thought maybe a belt, but why would that stop when turning, and not screech when stopped?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      8 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Natalie,

      What you're hearing is not a wheel bearing but it's most likely the brake pad wear indicator warning you your brake are getting low. When you first started to hear it, the indicator was slightly touching the rotor, now it touching completely and the noise is more consistent. Have your brakes checked closely because the inner pad usually has the wear indicator on it, so if the mechanic only checks the outer pad they could miss the problem. Let me know what you find, I'm curious to know if I'm correct or if the other two reply's is correct :) Thanks.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      8 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Maary,

      The clicking is coming from something that is rotating so I recommend checking your tire for anything stuck in it, the rotor and the CV joint boot for any leaking grease. If it is leaking grease, you'll need to have the axle replaced.

    • profile image

      MAARY IDA HUNT MY AUTOGO TRANSPORT CART 

      8 months ago

      I HAVE AN autogo CART FOR TRANSPO RT OF MYSELF. THE RIGHT WHEEL CLICKS WHEN IN DRIVE I AM UNABLE TO GET CAR TO A GARAGE. WHAT CAN I DO TO CHECK THIS CLICKING PROBLEM. THE FASTER I GO THE MORE IT CLICKS, YOUR SUGGESTIONS MIGHT HELP ME CORRECT THIS PROBLEM

    • profile image

      Natalie 

      8 months ago

      I posted this question on yahoo answers and two answered that it could be a wheel bearing:

      I have a 2006 Chevrolet Equinox. It's a constant faint shrill sound. This has been happening since about three weeks. It used to be on and off while driving but now it's always there while the vehicle is being driven. What could it mean?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      9 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Harry,

      No, not likely, With such a slight vibration you could try having the wheels balanced, but you may cause a vibration at a different speed. Let me know what you decide.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      9 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Theo,

      Can you describe the noise?

    • profile image

      Theo Sowah 

      9 months ago

      Why do I hear a noise from one side of my front car when a I take off my leg on the accelerator but stops when I starts speeding?

    • profile image

      harry anderson 

      9 months ago

      when driving and reach a speed of 70mp there is a slight vibration on the steering wheel nothing below that speed could this be a problem with the wheel bearings

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      9 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Fran,

      Thank you for your feedback, anytime you have a question, you know where to find me :)

    • profile image

      Fran 

      9 months ago

      Sitting at dealer now having 2 bearings replaced. Read your very clear and easy to understand article and the noise I was hearing was classic. I am happy to find your site and will put it in my contacts for future reference.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      10 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Kendra,

      A good mechanic will put the car on the lift and spin each wheel and listen with a stethoscope to find the worn bearing. A horrible mechanic will guess :)

    • profile image

      Kendra 

      10 months ago

      Eddie ,

      Thanks for the article very helpful for a female. Is there a "test" or code that will come up if I take it in to the mechanics?

      Thanks

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