A bad wheel bearing noise is, in most cases the first symptom that you’ll notice if you experience a wheel bearing problem.
Once you hear it, you should be prepared to solve the problem within the foreseeable future.
We’ve made this article in order to help you notice these sounds on time and perhaps be able to tell them apart from other car problems.
If you want to read more about other common symptoms of a bad wheel bearing, click here.
Also, if you’re not in the mood for reading, you can watch a video at the end of the article or on our YouTube channel.
Near the end of the article, you can hear how the car sounds when the wheel bearing is OK. This is just after the wheel bearing was replaced.
Once you hear it, you’ll perhaps get a better idea of how to recognize a bad wheel bearing noise.
At the beginning of the problem, the first sound that will probably appear is a distinctive humming sound.
At first, it will be barely noticeable and in this stage, it can easily be mistaken for other problems like an underinflated tire, bad cv joint, or else.
Also, it may only appear when driving faster while at lower speeds it may be silent.
But as the problem gets worse the humming will get louder and louder. Also, it will become louder as you drive faster.
Besides this, you might also hear a clicking sound coming from the wheel like when a small metal ball hits other metal. You can especially hear this if you listen while driving with an open window.
At this point, you should consider making an inspection of what’s wrong and try to determine what the problem is.
After some time, the humming will turn into a howling sound.
At lower speeds, it’s a sort of a winning sound but as you drive faster and more load is put on the damaged wheel bearing, it becomes a loud howling sound.
At some point it may also sound like growling, all depending on how much the wheel bearing is damaged.
By this time and in most cases, there’s no doubt that the wheel bearing is the problem and you should consider replacing it.
At this stage, the car is probably still driveable though the sound is a serious distraction.
In some cases, the sound is even louder than the engine.
At the final stage of the problem, you’ll hear an unpleasant metal-like grinding sound.
If you’ve ever heard a bad bearing on other devices, you’ll know what I mean.
It’s the loud sound of metal grinding against each other accompanied by sounds of something crunching and braking.
In this clip, it didn’t get that far, but it’s just before that stage.
Be aware that this is the final phase of the problem and that the wheel bearing is on its last legs. All of the inner parts like the rollers and the cage holding it is probably damaged or crushed.
Since the wheel bearing essentially holds the wheel to the drive shaft, the wheel will probably wobble, and controlling the car may be questionable.
If you keep driving you’re even at the risk of the wheel blocking or else and no need to say how dangerous this is.
SOUND WHEN THE WHEEL BEARING IS OK
As mentioned this is the sound just after the bad wheel bearing was replaced. So, there’s virtually no sound at all besides the engine.
Regarding this problem, once you notice a bad wheel bearing noise, react as soon as possible.
In the humming stage, It’s best to make an inspection when the sound starts. This is usually the point where the bearing is bad but it can function for some time.
If the wheel bearing was to be removed in this phase, it could be clearly seen that it needs replacement. In a best-case scenario, this is the best time to replace it.
Even in the howling stage, it’s not too late although this is the red line for replacement.
Best don’t let it get to the grinding stage. As mentioned, the wheel bearing is by then seriously damaged and it’s in danger of completely falling apart. If it gets to this for some reason, best avoid driving the car since it’s dangerous for the stability of the vehicle.
All in all, like many other car problems, reacting on time is a key factor in solving the problem.
In order to do this, spotting a bad wheel bearing noise on time is a key factor.
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author for Despairrepair.com
BAD WHEELING BEARING NOISE-YOUTUBE VIDEO