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Learn How to Identify Wheel Bearing Noise to Avert Danger

Wheel Bearing Noise
Identifying wheel bearing noise allows to solve problems occurring in the operation of the wheel in a timely manner. If your vehicle has run for long miles and hasn't received any inmate servicing, it's time to get a thorough look, as this could lead to bearing related problems soon.
Shashank Nakate
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Detecting the noise in wheel bearings can be a tricky job. However, with the correct understanding of how to diagnose the problem, it becomes easy to solve noise-related issues in wheel bearings. A rumbling or cyclic noise can be heard in wheel bearings with problems in their smooth functioning. If the driver senses even a slight problem in the smooth running of wheels, he should go for wheel bearing noise diagnosis. If the problem of bearing noise is not addressed in a timely manner, it can hamper the functioning of wheels.
Identifying Wheel Bearing Noise
The noise emanating from wheel bearings can differ from wheel to wheel depending on the degree of damage caused to them. At first, the noise originating from wheels might sound like a whistle. However, if the problem worsens, the noise could grow louder. Therefore, it is necessary to find out the exact cause of noise.
▶ A common trick used for identifying problems associated with wheel bears is checking whether noise heard at the time of acceleration and deceleration remains the same. One should drive the vehicle along a circular path, both clockwise and anti-clockwise, in order to find out which of the wheels (left or right) emits the sound caused by a damaged bearing.
▶ The noise originating from a wheel bearing doesn't change with changing speeds; however, it might increase or decrease at the time of turning. Therefore, one can say that the noise heard at regular intervals, while driving at a steady speed, is a sign of problem associated with bearings.
▶ Do not confuse wheel bearing noise with that produced by a damaged CV joint; both the problems are different from each other and they need be dealt with separately.
▶ Noise produced by wheel bearings is a result of lack of lubrication and in some cases, physical damage caused to them. Friction between dry areas of bearings produces a humming sound; the sound repeats at regular intervals.
▶ A mechanical jack proves to be of great help in lifting the car; wheels (i.e. bearings) can be easily diagnosed for wheel bearing noise. While spinning the wheel with one hand, one should place the other hand on the strut assembly. If there is any problem in the smooth functioning of wheel bearing, a noise can be heard.
It is necessary to lift the vehicle to find out the side from which the noise originates. Wiggling the tire back and forth should helps us understand whether the tire is fitted loosely or not.
Front Wheel Bearing Noise
wheel bearing front side
▶ The front wheel should be checked for noise as well as lubrication.
▶ Servicing of the front wheel bearing should be done every 30,000 miles.
▶ At the time of driving, listen carefully to any sound originating from wheels.
▶ Noise originating from the floorboard indicates that the problem is not related to wheel bearing; in fact, it could originate in any other part of the vehicle.
Rear Wheel Bearing Noise
wheel bearing rear noise
▶ Noise produced by the rear and front wheel bearings is almost the same. In such cases, diagnosing the problem associated with bearing noise can be difficult.
▶ In one of the methods used for diagnosing such kind of noise, the vehicle is driven at a constant speed; slight changes to the speed are occasionally made. It is important that you vary the speed because there are certain cars which make noise only at certain speeds.
▶ The dangers associated with wheel bearing noise shouldn't go undetected. It must be dealt with or repaired at the earliest.
While diagnosing the problem of wheel bearing noise, one should check if there are any cracks on the surface of the bearing. Even smaller cracks can later on cause big problems. To detect the minute cracks, one should diagnose the bearing in bright light. Cracked, pitted or worn out bearings should be replaced. The parts which bear the hub bore and spindles should also be checked for any kind of damage. At the time of inspection, one should check if there is any damage caused to the bearing hub bore; its fitting should also be checked. If the bearing hub bore doesn't fit properly, it calls for replacement of the drum or rotor or hub. One should also check whether spindles are aligned properly. In few cases the spindles might not be aligned in a straight line; thus, it becomes necessary to carry out proper diagnosis of the problem. The steering knuckle should be replaced if there is any problem in the operation of spindles.
Working of Bearings
A bearing is a machine component which performs the function of constraining the relative motion between moving parts of the machine. The act of constraining the relative motion is aimed at facilitating only a certain kind of motion (differs from machine to machine). The different types of motions permitted by bearings are linear motion, axial rotation, hinge motion and spherical rotation.
One should conduct a careful diagnosis of the worn out and damaged parts of the vehicle to determine the exact cause of wheel bearing noise. In some cases, it is not possible to find out the problem on our own. In such instances, consulting an expert should be the right thing to do.