Top 6 Bad Wheel Hub Symptoms
Some signs of major wheel hub issues are strange noise from your wheels, poor steering and control, irregular vehicle stability, and much more.
You must understand that these symptoms are not limited to bad wheel hubs. They can also indicate that your vehicles have bad wheel bearing or tires.
Here’s a comprehensive list of the common signs of a bad wheel hub to help you understand what each one can mean for your car.
Table of Contents
- Bad Wheel Hub Symptoms
- How Do You Test A Wheel Hub?
- Best Car Deals by Category
- Frequently Asked Questions
Bad Wheel Hub Symptoms
1. Loose Steering Wheel and Loss of Control
Loose steering wheels and poor controls are one of the common signs that you have a bad wheel hub assembly. The wheel hub assembly supports your wheels and ensures firm fitting and rotation.
When they go bad, you will notice some issues when you try to take turns. The steering wheel starts feeling loose.
This jeopardizes your ability to fully control the vehicle. Because the wheel hub assembly consists of the bearing, spindle/axle stub shaft, and mount supports for brake calipers and ballpoints, the wheel hub bears the overall weight and balance of the car.
If you notice that your vehicle is gradually losing control and you have loose steering wheels, you might have a bad wheel hub.
2. Vibrating Wheels
Vibrating wheels are one of the symptoms of a bad wheel hub. If your wheels feel wobbly or vibrating while driving, you should check your wheel hubs.
A worn-out wheel hub impacts your wheels, causing a jerky movement in the wheels and tires. The misaligned or loose bearings in the wheel hub cause your tire’s wheels to vibrate.
3. Strange Noise From Your Wheel/Tire Region
One of the most typical symptoms of a bad wheel hub is that you will notice strange and unusual noise coming from your wheel and tire region. These noises represent different causes and defects in your wheel hub.
Here are some of the strange noises in your wheel/tire region that indicate that you have a bad wheel hub:
Popping and Clicking Noise
The popping or clicking noise in your front wheel bearings are symptoms of a bad wheel hub. The popping and clicking noise will increase as your speed increases or during turns and cornering.
The popping and clicking noise is usually caused by a worn-out wheel hub assembly. Worn-out hub bearings produce clicking and popping noises on your wheels. This might also happen because the brake caliper is not aligned and regularly hits the top of your wheels.
Roaring and Grinding Noise
You will notice some roaring noise in your tires and wheels when the wheel hub is bad. The roaring and grinding noise are coming from the damaged bearings.
This is a result of the metal-to-metal contact of the worn-out parts. Misaligned parts in your wheel hub assembly are also similar causes of the roaring and grinding noise.
The noise can become peculiar to one side of your car. This happens when the bearings of that side of the car are the only damaged ones.
The crackling noise in your wheel and tire region are signs that your wheel hubs need lubrication. Just like your transmissions and other parts of your car, the wheel hub assembly needs lubrication.
Without lubrication, the hubs start wearing out due to friction. The dry contact of the bearing and other metallic parts will cause a cracking noise. This can also indicate that you have misaligned and broken hub bearings.
4. Poor Car Stability
The wheel hub handles the weight of your car. When your wheel hubs start failing, the car begins tilting toward its angle when you pull the brake. You will find it hard to maintain stability when steering.
There are a lot of factors that can cause your car’s instability and pull to one side. This might be a case of a failing brake rotor, brake caliper, or bearings. The brake rotor and caliper are held to your wheel hub assembly. These components create friction and support your braking system. Any damage to these parts will have your car drifting in an unusual direction.
5. Uneven Tire Wear
There are a lot of factors that can cause uneven tire wear. It might be a symptom of faulty suspension but also an indication that you are riding on loose or bad bearings in your wheel hub.
A bad wheel hub component (specifically a bad bearing) will impact the state of your tire. This is because the vibrating and wobbling wheels affect the tread wear pattern. Your tire will start wearing off quickly and unevenly because of its unusual performance with friction.
6. Brake Difficulty
If you frequently find it hard to operate your brakes, you should check your wheel hub assembly. Uneven rotors and brake pads are some of the major signs that your wheel hubs are bad.
When this happens, your brakes will start to malfunction. Your brake rotors are supported by your bearings. When the bearings are bad, the rotors wobble, pushing the caliper piston into its bore.
This leads to the retraction of the caliper, causing the brake pads to wear out. However, you shouldn’t conclude that the difficulties you face in your brakes are just signs of a bad wheel hub. Other factors can cause brake difficulty in your vehicle.
How Do You Test A Wheel Hub?
Instead of visiting a technician, you can learn how to test a wheel hub. To test a wheel hub, you need to inspect the bearings, axle, and wheel connection.
You will check each tire and wheel for a “play.” Play is any form of looseness that occurs when you grab the wheel by hand. This happens when there is a loose connection between the wheel and the axle.
Testing Your Wheel Hub by Play Inspection
Lift the car with a jack. Hold your tire with one hand on the top side and the other on the bottom side of the wheel. Move the wheel in the same direction.
Your wheel hub is bad if the tire/wheel wiggles. A good wheel hub should maintain zero lateral movements and not dance at any angle.
Inspect the Wheel Bearing
Bad wheel bearings are some of the major damages to a wheel hub. Your hubs might be in good shape but with a bad bearing.
Jack up your car, put the transmission on neutral, and rotate your tire. Feel the smoothness of the rotation. If you notice any roughness, you might need to change the bearings, if possible, or the entire hub assembly.
Check for Noise
You might need a technician to help you with this. Suspend your car in the car, and rotate each wheel individually.
Listen for noises in the wheel/tire region. Different types of noise are symptoms of various issues in your hub assembly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why would you need to replace a wheel hub?
You will need to replace your wheel hub if it is damaged or fails to function properly. You might not need to wait until the wheel hub assembly is entirely damaged.
How do you know if you need a new wheel hub?
Hubs are usually changed when they become rusty. Some wheel hubs might just need servicing, and in some cases, you don’t need to change the entire hub assembly.
What happens when a wheel hub goes bad?
When a wheel hub goes bad, you will notice strange noise in your tire and wheel region, loose steering wheel, poor controls, your vehicle will start pulling to one side, and you will experience vibration in the wheels. A bad wheel hub will affect the performance of your car as well as your safety.
What happens if you don’t fix the wheel hub?
If you don’t fix your wheel hub, the problem will be complicated and can lead to ultimate damage. This might not only affect the performance of your car, but also your safety.
Can you drive with a bad wheel hub?
No. It is unsafe to drive with a bad wheel hub, especially if the damage is from a worn-out bearing. Driving on a bad wheel hub places you at risk of driving with a loose steering wheel and an unstable car. This is entirely unsafe.