Top 6 Front Wheel Bearing Noise Symptoms
There are a lot of things that could cause the noise coming from your front wheel bearings. The roaring, howling, or rumbling noise can either mean that you have a bad wheel bearing or riding on worn-out tires. The symptoms can go beyond these.
The sounds coming from your front wheel bearings should help you determine what is wrong with your car. You should understand what each front wheel bearing noise means, as this will help you solve the problem quicker.
Now, let’s quickly go through some common front wheel bearing noise symptoms and what they mean.
Table of Contents
- Common Front Wheel Bearing Noise Symptoms
- Other Symptoms of a Bad Front Wheel Bearing
- 7. Loose Steering Wheel
- 8. Steering Wheel Vibration
- How To Tell Which Wheel Bearing Is Bad: Front Or Back?
- How Does a Wheel Bearing Go Bad?
- Best Car Deals by Category
- Frequently Asked Questions
Common Front Wheel Bearing Noise Symptoms
1. Humming Noise
There are a few reasons that can cause a humming noise in your front wheel bearing. Damaged wheel bearings are the most common reason for the humming noise in your front wheel bearing.
A deteriorating or worn-out bearing will produce a loud humming noise, especially when changing lanes or taking sharp turns.
The humming will increase and most times extend to vibrations the more you drive or apply pressure on the car. You must fix the bearings or get a replacement to avoid further damage or collisions.
2. Howling and Rumbling Noise
If you notice a howling and squealing noise in your front wheel bearing, you have a bad wheel bearing. This will happen if the worn-out bearings are not working in harmony with your gears.
However, other factors might cause the howling noise in your front wheel bearing. The howling and squealing noise might be a result of worn-out gears. If the howling persists when you are driving on lower acceleration at different speeds, you should check the condition of your gears.
3. Grating and Grinding Noise
Some major symptoms of grating and grinding noises under your car include brake pad malfunction, alternator, hubs, or wheel bearings. If the noise is coming from your front wheel bearing, you should check your hub or wheel bearings.
Your wheel bearings are responsible for tire rotation and handling low friction. The hub takes care of firmly securing your wheels and the tires.
When the wheel bearings wear out, you will hear noises whenever you try to take a turn. When ignored, the issue will extend to poor steering and handling in your car or even uneven tread wear in your tires.
4. Popping and Clicking Noise
The popping or clicking noise in your front wheel bearings are symptoms of worn-out bearings. Driving on a damaged bearing will make your wheels wobble, generating pop sounds along the way.
This is because they are no longer firmly held to the car. Some other times, the popping and clicking noise in your front wheel bearing are indicators that you have a damaged constant velocity (CV) joint or bad struts.
CV joints act as joining parts of your steering system. Located at the end of your vehicle’s front axle, they support the flexibility of the axle, compensating for the movement of the wheels and suspension. With damaged CVs, the axle loses flexibility, hence the clicking noise in the wheels.
Struts are part of your suspension system. They act as shock absorbers, helping your suspension system handle impacts from the road.
Damaged struts make it hard for the suspension to absorb road impact. This causes the wheel bearings to pop and click.
Other factors that can cause popping and clicking noise in your front wheel-bearing are tire inflation, loose hubcaps, and loose drive belts.
5. Knocking Noise
There are a lot of factors that can trigger the knocking noise in your front wheel bearing.
When your car’s front wheel bearing produces knocking noises, one of these could be the possible symptom:
- Loosen lug nuts.
- Broken strut.
- Damaged wheel bearings.
- Damaged bushings.
- Spoilt tires.
- Axle issues.
- Bad ball joints.
- Faulty control arms.
Damaged wheel bearings are usually the primary cause of the knocking noise in your front wheel bearing. Damaged wheel bearings place extra stress and pressure on the CV joints, which can cause a knocking noise.
However, you might need to contact a technician to determine the actual cause of the knocking noise.
6. Cracking Noise
Crackling noise in your front wheel bearing indicates that you have a bad wheel bearing, bad wheel hub, or sometimes your bearing lacks lubrication. If your front wheel bearing lacks lubrication, it produces a cracking noise due to metal-to-metal contact.
The noise emanates from dry contact between your front wheel bearing seat and the wheel bearing outer race. Lubrication will prevent the frictional effect caused by the contact of the outer bearing and inner hub.
There are also chances that this might be a symptom that your bearing is misaligned or has a fracture.
Other Symptoms of a Bad Front Wheel Bearing
7. Loose Steering Wheel
If you notice your steering wheel moves too freely with little resistance or wobbles, you could have a bad front wheel bearing.
8. Steering Wheel Vibration
If your steering wheel shakes or vibrates when you turn, this could be a sign of a front wheel bearing malfunction.
How To Tell Which Wheel Bearing Is Bad: Front Or Back?
The easiest way to tell which wheel bearing is bad is to work on these tires individually. Start with jacking up the tire. Spin the tire, and notice the changes and noise.
The wheel bearing is bad if you hear some noises or feel roughness on the tires. You can feel the spring connected to the tire while you spin it. If the spring feels rough when you rotate the tires, the wheel bearings of that tire are bad.
You can repeat the process for all tires, front and back. This will help you figure out which of the wheel bearings are bad. You don’t need to jack the whole tire at a time. Work on them individually to help you draw individual conclusions on each tire.
How Does a Wheel Bearing Go Bad?
A wheel bearing goes bad as a result of wear and tears. Many factors can influence this: lack of lubrication, consistently driving through water, mud, and wet surfaces, contaminants, and grease pollution.
Constantly exposing the wheel bearing to these factors will make it corrode and wear off with time. If your car is exposed to extremely cold conditions, there are chances that your bearing will be affected by salt and magnesium chloride. This will make it go bad.
Wheel bearings go bad from the disintegration of the seal, drying up of the bearing’s inner race; this leads to rust and lack of grease. The wheel bearing ends up becoming just a chunk of rust metal.
The symptoms of a front wheel bearing noise differs as the causes vary. In general, these symptoms indicate that something is wrong with your car, and you need to fix it.
As we have explained in this article, the noise from your front wheel bearing might not only be a fault in the wheels. The CV joints, tires, strut, axle, bushings, lug nuts, and control arms are areas that you should consider.
You should get a technician to run a proper diagnostic to decide precisely what is wrong with your front wheel bearing.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can you drive with a bad wheel bearing?
No. You should never try to drive with a bad wheel bearing. It is unsafe and dangerous to do so. Driving on a bad wheel bearing might cause your wheel to stop moving.
How long will a wheel bear last after it starts making noise?
A wheel bearing will last up to 1,000 to 2,000 miles after it starts making noise. Driving on a noisy wheel bearing for distances longer than this can lead to catastrophic events.
How do you diagnose a wheel-bearing noise?
A humming, howling, rumbling, grating, and grinding noise indicates that your wheel bearing is bad. Popping and clicking noises are signs that your CV joints or struts are bad. Cracking noise is an indicator that your bearing needs lubrication.
Do bad wheel bearings make noise at low speed?
Yes. Bad wheel bearings make noise at low speed. The noise might not be as loud at high speeds. Sometimes, they might come in the form of vibrations and manifest as hums as the speed increases. The noise from a bad wheel bearing can also increase during turns and rotations.
How long do wheel bearings last?
Wheel bearings last up to 85,000 to 100,000 miles. Some wheel bearings tend to last longer than others.