How to Diagnose Wheel Bearing Noise

Most drivers don’t exactly know what a wheel bearing is, and most of us don’t know how to spot wheel bearing noise in car. So if your mechanic tells you that the wheel bearing has to be replaced, you have no other choice but to replace it.

Here, you will learn what a wheel bearing is, what function it performs, and how to diagnose wheel bearing noise in car. The idea is to enable you to easily recognize next time when wheel bearing makes noise in the car. So let’s get started.

What is a Wheel Bearing?

In simple words, a bearing is a metallic ring that helps your car’s wheel rotate smoothly and with minimal friction. Though the shape and the type of the bearing may differ from vehicle to vehicle but their purpose always remain the same – to help rotate the wheel.

The wheel bearing is installed in the hub where it fits nicely so that it can perform its function of spinning the wheel. Over time, wheel bearings lose their strength and become weak. As they get weak, they make noise and this is where you have to figure it out, and replace them.

What Damages a Wheel Bearing?

It is destroyed by water and excessive heat. Though all the bearings are properly sealed, wear and tear eventually damages the seal. When a seal is damaged, water and debris enter the bearing and it fails to perform its function. When a bearing fails, it makes noise.

Tips to Diagnose Wheel Bearing Noise

Initially, the noise will be too quiet to hear. You will not be able to notice it, but within a few weeks, the noise will get louder. Soon, you will hear a constant noise throughout the journey.

Let’s be clear on this, the wheel bearing noise in your car is one of the hardest to diagnose. Why? Because you have to drive the car to hear the noise. When the car stops, the noise stops.

There are, however, a few ways to diagnose the wheel bearing noise in your car.

1) Listen While Driving

When you are in the driving seat, listen closely. Do you hear a rotating sound that is rhythmic and increases with the speed? Does it gets louder and then disappears at certain speeds? If so, you probably have noise from a wheel bearing.

2) Testing on a Lift

With another person in the vehicle, get your car on a lift and have them run it at a decent speed. Listen to the noise from all the wheels. You will be able to point which wheel bearing are making noise. Don’t attempt this without the right setup or experience.

3) Sway Test

This is a pro method where you have to drive your car at 50 mph and sway your car to the right and then to left, and so on. Do it slowly. If the rhythmic sound shifts from left to right, your car has a wheel bearing issue.

To spot the exact wheel which has the issue, listen closely when you sway car to the left if noise decreases the issue is on the right side. If the noise decreases when you sway to the right, one of the wheel bearings on the left side has failed.

Once you have spotted that one or more wheel bearings are making noise, the only solution is to replace the damaged ones, and your ride will become noiseless once again.

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