Have you started experiencing some noises from the suspension when you accelerate? And you are thinking that this is a bad wheel bearing sound? Well, if that is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic.
Having a problem like this can really be something frustrating to deal with. Why I’m saying this? Well, this is the case because you will notice strange noises all of the time, and these noises can really ruin your day and cause you to drive in fear.
Even though when a wheel bearing fails, you will not get a complete failure on your car, still, there will be some annoying noises that will come here and there to notify you that you need to check your suspension and hopefully fix the issue with your wheel bearings. But you shouldn’t worry because we are going to help you out.
First, we will learn what is a wheel bearing in general and understand the work of this component. Then we will cover the bad wheel bearing symptoms and the bad wheel bearing sound. After that, we will solely focus on the causes of the bad wheel bearing sound and understand why it appears. And after that, we will look more into diagnosing and replacing this bad wheel bearing. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
What Is A Wheel Bearing?
Now before we start discussing the bad wheel bearing symptoms and the bad wheel bearing sound, let’s focus more on the basics. And that is what is a wheel bearing in general. Knowing this will help you out when trying to diagnose and replace this component. If you like you can jump to the symptoms. If not, keep up with us for a bit.
Nevertheless, a wheel bearing is a special component that allows the wheels to rotate around the axle freely. They are quite a necessity and without them, driving a car would be close to impossible. So, what a wheel bearing is in general?
Well, a wheel bearing is just like any other bearing that is mounted on cars. There is a casing and in this casing, there are steel balls that are perfectly smooth so there will be no friction between them. And in order to reduce the friction to the minimum, every bearing is greased up.
When a bearing fails, usually this grease leaks out. So, when the wheel bearing rotates, it creates friction inside and this basically ruins the bearing and creates the bad wheel bearing sound and other bad wheel bearing symptoms that we are going to cover in the following chapters.
What is important for you is to understand the work of these components and learn where they are located. The location of wheel bearing in a modern car is in the wheel hub assembly. There are two bearings in fact. An inner bearing and an outer bearing.
Whenever a bearing fails, it has to be replaced, or you could replace the whole wheel hub assembly with completely new bearings. This is how you will no longer experience bad wheel bearing sound.
Bad Wheel Bearing Symptoms
When it comes to the bad wheel bearing sound. It is worth also covering all of the other symptoms when it comes to a bad wheel bearing.
Knowing these symptoms will tell you a lot if you have a problem or not with your wheel bearings. This is why will discuss the most frequent bad wheel bearing symptoms in the following chapters.
Bad Wheel Bearing Sound
Now let’s cover the bad wheel bearing symptoms. More precisely the bad wheel bearing sound. There are more than a few sounds that are created when you have a wheel bearing that is failed. This is why we will have a few chapters dedicated to each of these sounds and learn more about how to notice these noises and then look for a solution based on them. So, let’s begin.
1. Humming Noise In Car Getting Louder With Speed
The first situation when you experience a bad wheel bearing sound is the case when there is a humming noise in the car getting louder with speed.
If you didn’t know, wheel bearings are starting to produce humming noises when they just start to fail. So, you can look at this symptom as an early warning that your bearing is starting to fail.
The faster you go, the more pronounced this humming noise will be. So, whenever you notice a sound that increases with the speed of the car, it is worth checking it out and seeing if you have a bad wheel bearing sound. Now let’s move on to the next sound.
2. Grinding Noise When Driving
The second type of noise that we are going to cover when it comes to the bad wheel bearing sound is the grinding noise when driving. So, why is this the case?
Well, this is the case because your wheel bearings failed many miles ago, and the wheel basically grinds.
This is something that nobody wants. Even though, this type of noise is also quite common in cars that have problems with the rotors and calipers. It could happen for you to experience grinding noise when these components fail as well.
So, beware of this issue and make sure that you check everything in detail to determine what has gone wrong in your suspension.
3. Car Makes Whirring Noise When Driving
The third type of bad wheel bearing sound is when the car makes a whirring noise when driving. Some people call it humming some call it whirring. There is a slight difference in tone if you are asking me.
So, whenever you notice a whirring noise when driving and this noise increases the faster you go. Then you probably have a bad wheel bearing sound.
The important thing for you, in this case, will be to check your suspension and determine if everything is okay and learn how to diagnose the issue. This is something that we are going to cover later on in this article. Now let’s finish with the symptoms.
4. Car Makes Noise When Turning
The fourth symptom when it comes to a bad wheel bearing sound is the situation when the car makes noise when turning. So, why is this the case? Why the car makes a noise when turning?
Well, there could be a number of reasons. More precisely, wheel bearings, tie rods, or a CV axle. In most cases, the CV axle is the one that causes noises when turning. But sometimes event the wheel bearing could cause a situation like this on your car.
So, you need to consider all of the options when it comes to diagnosing the bad wheel bearing sound. But more on that later on in this article, when we will dive deeper into the diagnostics and how to tackle these noises.
Now let’s move on to the next probable symptom.
5. Car Makes Noise When Turning Right But Not Left
And the last bad wheel bearing sound that we are going to cover is the situation when the car makes noise when turning right but not left.
This is another situation when you can have a symptom that is connected to this problem with the wheel bearing. More precisely when you turn right but not left.
What is worth noting is that this symptom could also be caused by other things that are quite common. Namely, tie rods and CV axles. So, whenever you are in this situation, the best thing would be to diagnose the problem that indeed the wheel bearing is the issue and not the tie rods or CV axle.
But have you asked yourself what are the causes for a bad wheel bearing sound? What makes the wheel bearing go bad and cause these sounds and literally annoy you? Let’s discuss more on that next.
Causes For Bad Wheel Bearing Sound
So, we came to the interesting part and that is to learn the causes for the bad wheel bearing sound. We have covered the type of sounds and situations that you might come by when you have a bad wheel bearing.
Now let’s discuss precisely what are the causes of this problem. What could ruin your wheel bearing and cause you a ton of trouble? Let’s elaborate more on that in the following chapters.
1. Wheel Bearings Were Poorly Installed
If you have installed new wheel bearings recently and you get the bad wheel bearing sound, then you highly likely have installed these components as you shouldn’t have.
Why I’m saying this? Well, when you install components like these you need to have special tools to remove them and install them into the wheel hub assembly.
Also, you have to use grease in order for the bearings not to wear out too soon. If the bearings that you installed were not greased up, then you will have problems with a bad wheel bearing sound.
These bearings that are not lubricated will highly likely start to wear out prematurely and you will have to do this job all over again. So, beware of this situation and make sure that you install wheel bearings in the right way if you don’t want to face the bad wheel bearing sound.
2. You Drive In Deep Water Too Often
Another cause for a bad wheel bearing sound is the case if you drive through water a lot. Why is this the case?
Well, if you often submerge the vehicle above its axles, water will get inside the axle and also inside the wheel bearing. Then this water will dilute the grease inside of it and you will have wheel bearings that have a ton of friction inside of them.
When the wheel bearing has friction, you will start to experience the bad wheel bearing sound and this will be a notification that the bearings have to be checked and diagnosed, and replaced unless you want them to fail completely and ruin your day. So, beware of this situation if you love to go off-road and you drive too much in different conditions.
3. You Drive On Bad Roads With A Ton Of Potholes
The next probable cause for the bad wheel bearing sound that we would like to discuss is the situation when you drive too much off-road or on other unpaved roads that have a ton of potholes.
As you probably know, whenever the car drives on an uneven surface, it creates a ton of friction inside of the suspension components.
So, in these situations, you can expect increased wear and tear because of these bad driving characteristics. The car will not like this type of road and the bushings, bearings, and other components will start to wear significantly more than they used to when you drive your car on good flat surfaces.
Try to avoid potholes as much as you can if you want to avoid problems like these with the bad wheel bearing sound.
4. You Haven’t Balanced The Wheels
Another common cause why wheel bearings fail and a big reason for the bad wheel bearing sound is the situation when you drive with unbalanced wheels and bad wheel alignment.
When your wheels are not ideally balanced and the alignment is off, you will basically face a ton of problems down the way. And not only the wheel bearings will suffer but the whole suspension will take a toll.
The tires will wear unevenly, you will have bad bushings, and the tie rods will start to wear and produce symptoms. Overall, a bad situation for your car. So, it is really crucial for you to always have your tires balanced and properly aligned if you want to avoid problems like the bad wheel bearing sound occurring to you.
But how you can diagnose a bad wheel bearing? We will get to that in a bit, first let’s cover the last common cause for this type of sound.
5. Wear And Tear
The last probable cause for the bad wheel bearing sound that we would like to discuss is the situation when the bearings are eaten by the mileage accumulated on them.
In ideal situations, a bearing should last more than 150,000 miles or so. But if you push your car over this mileage, then you should expect to change them sooner or later.
All the factors like the weather and the road surface are starting to accumulate on these components and they will eventually fail on your car. So, don’t be surprised if your bearings have a ton of miles and they just fail.
They will start to produce a bad wheel bearing sound and you will have to replace them. But how you can make a conclusion if your wheel bearings are worn out? Let’s cover more on that in the following chapter.
Wheel Bearing Noise Diagnosis
Now let’s get to business and learn how to diagnose a bad wheel bearing. Knowing how to diagnose a bad wheel bearing is the most important thing that you can do right now. This is why we make this nice tutorial for you to have a good perspective of how it is done.
The first thing that you probably want to do when trying to diagnose a bad wheel bearing is to listen for the bad wheel bearing sound. The most important diagnosis is the wheel bearing noise diagnosis.
This is how you will be able to tell which of the bearings is bad and needs to be replaced. So, whenever you hear a humming noise when you accelerate the car, then this car 99% has a bad bearing. It is important for you to be able to track this sound and learn from where it comes from.
For this, you will need to activate your ears and try to isolate the tire with the bad wheel bearing. But in my opinion, you shouldn’t go cheap in this situation and you should replace both of the bearings if you want to fix this permanently.
Another thing that you want to try is to lift the car up and put the hands at a 180-degree angle. Then wiggle the wheel left and right. If you are having a bad wheel bearing the wheel should have a ton of play besides the bad wheel bearing sound. In the video, you can see the methods the guy tries to pinpoint the bad wheel bearing, so you might want to check it out.
Wheel Bearing Replacement
Now let’s discuss the wheel bearing replacement. Let’s say that you diagnosed a bad wheel bearing sound and you deemed your bearing due to be replaced (or, if you want to learn how to replace the wheel bearing). What you can do in this situation when it comes to replacing this component?
Well, if you want to perform this job at home you can, what we would recommend you to do is to replace the whole wheel hub assembly. Why is this the case? Well, this is the case because when you have a new hub you basically don’t have to deal with removing the old bearings and then reassemble everything back in.
Plus, the number of tools that you will need will be minimal in comparison to doing the full job. In the video that we attached, you can see how this work is done on a car and how you can do it at home using common tools.
The only thing to add is not to forget to do a wheel alignment because whenever you do a wheel bearing replacement, this is one of the essentials that you need to do in order to complete the job as it should. But what about the cost to fix the bad wheel bearing sound? Well, more on this up next.
Wheel Bearing Replacement Cost
Now as we covered the bad wheel bearing sound and the replacement process, let’s take a look now at the front wheel bearing replacement cost and the rear wheel bearing replacement cost. How much can you expect to pay per bearing?
We can tell you that this is not cheap as you would probably think. On average, only a new wheel hub assembly is between $200 to $300 depending on the car.
So, they could cost you more money than you anticipate. The labor will also cost you $150 per wheel minimum. Plus the wheel alignment could cost about $60.
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to wheel bearings. We learned what the wheel bearings are and what role they play.
Then we learned more about the bad wheel bearing sound and symptoms that will be noticeable when you experience a bad bearing. Later on, we discussed the causes of the bad wheel bearing and why they occur. Lastly, we learned how to diagnose and fix the problem with your car.
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
What Is A Wheel Bearing
A wheel bearing is a crucial component that connects the wheel assembly and makes a connection between the wheel and the axle of the car. The bearing is basically a circular housing with a ton of steel balls that allow the wheel to rotate smoothly.
How To Tell If Wheel Bearing Is Bad
You can tell that a bearing is bad based on the bad wheel bearing sound. The bad bearing will tend to produce sounds when you accelerate. The faster you go, the louder the car will become.
What Does A Bad Wheel Bearing Sound Like
A bad wheel bearing will produce sounds that will resemble humming in most cases. Whirring or grounding noises are also noticeable but to a lesser extent. And also depending on the internal damage of the bearing.
How To Tell Which Wheel Bearing Is Bad
You can tell by lifting the car in the air and wiggling the wheel left and right. If it has a ton of play in it, the bearing is due to be replaced. Also, try to spin the wheel and see if it rotates easily. If it requires a lot of effort, you probably have a bad wheel bearing.
How Much To Replace Wheel Bearing
On average, a wheel hub assembly is somewhere between $200 to $300. The cost greatly depends on the make and model of the car. The labor will also cost you about $150.
How Long Do Wheel Bearing Last
On average, these components last a lot, more than 150,000 miles. But they can fail if you drive off-road or on uneven surfaces a lot. So, if you want to keep them in good shape, drive more on the tarmac.
Can A Bad Wheel Bearing Affect Acceleration
Yes, it can, it can cause the wheel to rotate poorly and prevent the car from moving faster. So, if you notice something like this, you better try to tackle the issue as soon as possible.