Causes of Bad Wheel Bearing Noise in Your Vehicle

Causes of Bad Wheel Bearing Noise in Your Vehicle

When all is well, your wheel bearings are sealed inside the wheel hub. During non-use, your seals kick in to hold the vacuum created by the lubricant. If this vacuum is compromised, your bearings are now exposed the elements. Water, dirt and even road salt can get inside, which can all cause a host of problems – mostly noise, but ultimately, damage.

So we will break down five of the most common causes of wheel bearing noise, along with some advice on how to deal with it.

Bad Installation

Wheel bearings are delicate and can only work if they’re installed properly. If you had new ones put in, and they are now on the verge of failure, your first call to action should be to go back to the mechanic who put them in – they probably didn’t install them right.

Every vehicle manufacturer has instructions as to how these should be put in. Mechanics, especially those who work for the dealer of your car, should be aware of these. So if this is what’s happening, go back to the mechanic first. If they failed to install them properly, then they should correct it – at no extra charge to you.

wheel bearing

Water Entry

They say oil and water do not mix. The same is true of wheel bearing grease and water. Your wheel hub and the bearing assembly were designed for normal driving conditions. The seals will help protect your bearings to a degree, but water still can get inside. The most likely occasion this could happen is if you drove over a flooded road.

When you get water inside mixed with the lubricant, it won’t take long and the lubricant will be useless. And the point blank truth of the matter is, you can’t just simply repair that. You need to replace the bearing.

Rough Driving Conditions

Your wheel bearings have one of the toughest jobs on the entire car. They absorb the brunt of the pressure of the wheels. If you drive on rough roads on a regular basis, you’re putting a lot of pressure on those bearings. They can get damaged quicker than they would during normal wear. Then if you hit large potholes or other extreme events, the damage can become worse.

This damage can make room for openings in the bearing assembly, where dirt and debris can enter and finish off what might be left of your bearings.

And since it’s not noticeable until it actually fails, you need to have a more “preventative” approach. If you know you will frequently encounter rough driving, make it a point to check your bearings once in a while.

Tires Not Balanced

Think of your own body. When one part of you hurts, like a really bad toothache, it feels like the entire body hurts. It’s similar with your wheel system, made of six basic components. When one of those components is damaged or on the road to failure, it puts undue pressure on the other components, which also stand the risk of damage.




Wheel bearings need to be preserved. They are partly responsible for the smooth movement of your vehicle over the roads. The less they are abused, the longer they will last, and the longer you’ll be able to drive it.


Bryce Newell is an automotive enthusiast who loves to write about the latest news, products, and DIY projects. While Bryce is an amateur in the field, he is passionate about cars and has been since he spent weekends in the garage helping his dad rebuild a 68 Dodge Charger as a kid.

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