It can be challenging to identify wheel bearing noise since it is easily confused with tire noise. Even if a loud wheel bearing is a source, it may be difficult to pinpoint the cause of the specific wheel that is affected. The primary purpose of wheel bearings is to allow the wheels to move without friction. When a car stops and the bearings begin to cool down, a vacuum is created from the lubricant, air, and metal that contacts.
The seals are supposed to ensure that the vacuum stays in the right place. If not, the seals on the hub or bearing will begin to pull in air from the outside. This may contain water or other pollutants. This can lead to bearing damage and even wheel bearing noise.
Top 5 causes of wheel bearing noise
Wheel bearings are connected to the wheels and are always moving. Because the wheels touch the road during driving, there can be many different reasons why wheel bearings are making these odd noises or are damaged. These are the top five causes of wheel bearing noise.
1. Improper Installation
If your vehicle’s wheel bearings were recently replaced, it would be extremely odd if they started malfunctioning after the replacement. It is possible that your wheel bearings were damaged because they were put in place incorrectly or contrary to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
2. Driving Through Deep Water
Engineers develop wheel bearing seals so that the pressure can escape from the bearings of the wheels. They are fitted in the factory with an oil-based lubricant. The only downside is that the oil can’t prevent water from passing through.
That means that if you drive your vehicle on the road saturated with water, your bearings will be exposed to the effects of moisture. When that happens, it mixes with the oil and causes it to become ineffective and causes the bearings to suffer excessive friction and ultimately be damaged. You won’t be able to repair or service the modern-day wheel bearing, either.
3. Driving on the rough roads
Wheel bearings take on the full load of the automobile. If you drive across a bumpy curb or pothole, the wheel bearing might be damaged quickly. If you strike anything, the bearing’s ball is likely to be pushed to the side of the grooved ring on which the approach is. As a result, you will see small holes in the bearings.
If you continue driving the vehicle with these faulty bearings, it’ll cause an increase in heat and friction. In time, the heat will cause tiny pieces of material to break off, which can contaminate the lubricant on the wheel bearing, making it break much faster. However, it’s possible the problem could be several months before it becomes apparent.
4. Unbalanced tires or bad shocks
The wheel system depends on its wheel bearing and tire and the lower joint, lower arm, and knuckle arm. Shock. If your tires are unbalanced and the other components could get damaged, it could create noises directly from your wheel bearing.
5. Accident on or near the wheel area
Wheel bearings are in constant motion, and they’re connected to the various other components mentioned in the previous paragraph. If the wheel’s area suffered an accident, the wheel bearing will likely also be damaged. This could create noise.
What does a bad wheel bearing sound like?
When you’ve got a damaged or broken wheel bearing can be like driving through a rumble strip on the road’s shoulder. It’s not very loud initially but becomes more evident when the state of the bearing gets worse. The wheel bearing noise can describe riding on a bike as a young child with the playing card attached to the wheel, which struck the spokes when the wheel turned.
When you make that turn, physics allows additional weight to be shifted to one side of the automobile, amplifying wheel bearing noise (particularly in the front). This may be useful in determining which wheel has a bad wheel bearing and is the source of the noise.
If you drive 30 to 40 MPH on a completely unpaved road, make sure you shift your steering wheel slightly left and then right, like you’re weaving your lanes. Noise from the w-bearing (especially at the front) is amplified when you turn, as physics permits the car’s weight to shift to one side of the vehicle. This is also useful in determining the wheel making noise and which wheel has the defective bearing.
How to diagnose wheel bearing noise or damage?
Use a jack to lift the vehicle until the tire is lifted off the ground. Try moving your tire vertically in one direction and then moving it horizontally. If the wheel is wobbly or has some play, it could be an issue with the bearing. Speed could also cause noise coming from wheel bearings. In some instances, you might be driving at 60 MPH, and you can hear the sound, then you accelerate to 65 MPH, and the noise is gone. It could happen in the event of a tiny extent of damage to the bearing. So, you may not be able to detect the issue right away.
You’ll only be able to determine this by feeling for any play not as described in the previous paragraph. If you notice the wheel moving when you pull or push on it, take your vehicle to a repair shop or tire shop to be examined by a trained professional. They will be able to determine the extent of an issue with the wheel bearing or when another component is damaged, such as the wheel’s rim or tire.