Five Reasons Wheel Bearing Noise Can Causes (and What it Sounds Like)

Do you remember the thrill of having a broken wheel bearing? If you have, then you know it’s really not a joyous occasion that’s worthy of a celebration. 

Your vehicle’s wheel bearings are designed to allow your wheels to turn, with as little friction as possible, independently of your vehicle’s hub. Bearings can last thousands to thousands of miles, but most are durable.

They do eventually fail and the sound they emit is an indication that your bearings need to be replaced. 

Índice de Contenido
  1. What does it sound like?
  2. Here are 5 Reasons Why Common Wheel Bearing Noises Are So Recurrent 
    1. 1. Grease shortage 
    2. 2. Saltwater 
    3. 3. Inadequacy of use 
    4. 4. The Bearing is put under excessive strain by suspension faults 
    5. 5. Crash Causes Impact to the Wheel 

What does it sound like?

When you are driving at high speeds, the sound of noisy bearings makes a growling and squealing sound. This noise will become more noticeable when the wheel turns slightly left or right.

A noisy bearing on a wheel can make a variety of noises, depending on which part has failed. 

If the grease has been lost and the bearing is being dried, the wheel can make a metallic grinding sound. 

The bearing will give off an unusually low sounding rumble noise if it has too much play.

Sometimes the outer housing may become detached from the hub, and the bearing can spin along with it. The outer bearing race will rub against the inner hub, resulting in a louder scraping sound. 

Here are 5 Reasons Why Common Wheel Bearing Noises Are So Recurrent 

A dry bearing is the most likely cause of noise in wheel bearings. This can be caused by a lack of grease. It can also happen because of salt water or leakage.

Below is a list that explains the five most common causes of noisy bearings. 

1. Grease shortage 

Wheel Bearing Grease

Your wheel bearing’s grease is truly one of the most vital aspects of ensuring that your wheel bearing will last for as long as possible. As long as the bearing is greased, you’ll be preventing excessive heat and resistance build-up, which will also prevent the metal from distorting. 

Most wheel bearings these days are sealed units, meaning there’s no access for you to top the grease up yourself via a nipple. This means that if your bearing has started to develop a noise because of a lack of grease, you’ll have to replace the entire bearing. 

It is difficult to tell if the grease has gone from the bearings because they are sealed. If you can visibly see on the bearing housing any signs of an impact resulting in a loss of grease, we’d recommend having the bearing replaced. 

2. Saltwater 

Car Launch Boat

Saltwater is an arduous killer of vehicles. You’ll know this if you use your vehicle for launching boats into the sea. 

Salty seawater can cause bearings to wear out faster. As salt water works its way into the bearing housing, not only does it wash out the grease contained inside, but it will also begin to work it’s magic of corroding the internals of the bearing. 

It can come as a shock to many when all of a sudden they begin to notice they’re bearings are noisy after launching a boat. This is because the salt water is causing damage that isn’t visible without stripping your bearing down.

There’s no real way of preventing saltwater from getting into your bearings if you do use your vehicle for launching boats. If this is the case, we recommend having your bearings checked regularly. Also be on the lookout for any unusual noises. This will help you avoid any unexpected costs when your wheel bearings eventually need to be replaced. 

3. Inadequacy of use 

Lack Of Use Car

Sometimes, it's worse to use your car less than you do. The batteries go flat and the suspension bushes become stiffer, while seals get dry. 

Your wheel bearings are the same. The grease in your bearings may dry out if you leave the vehicle stationary for too long. 

Also, non-moving bearings have a higher chance of developing corrosion. This can lead to heat buildup and may need to be replaced prematurely. Even if your car can be driven for short periods, it is still better than having it sit there for prolonged periods. 

4. The Bearing is put under excessive strain by suspension faults 

Car Suspension

Sometimes, excessive stress can be placed on certain parts of the vehicle if your suspension is not in alignment. 

Your wheel bearings will work with any stress they are capable of enduring. So, if the stress that’s placed upon them is increased for a prolonged period of time, then this can result in the bearing wearing out prematurely. 

To prevent any further damage to your other components, such as the wheel bearings or suspension problem on your vehicle, get it fixed as quickly as you can. 

It’s also worth noting that if your vehicle is lowered, you may notice that your wheel bearings will need replacing sooner than expected due to the increased stress placed upon them. 

5. Crash Causes Impact to the Wheel 

Small Car Crash

I’m sure that many of us either know someone or have done this ourselves, where we go for a drive when it’s either icy or wet and end up sliding into the curb at the side of the road.

This impact can be minor but it can have a significant effect on your wheel bearings. This is simply because they’re not designed to absorb side impacts that occur if your vehicle slides into a curb. 

If you’ve had a side impact similar to that of sliding into a curb, have your suspension and wheel bearings assessed to ensure you’ve not damaged them. 

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