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The Sound of a Bad Wheel Bearing – Here’s What You Need To Know

Warning signs of bad wheel bearings

Listening is one of the most important skills a person can have. It can let you understand what other people want, it can teach you about a multitude of subjects, and It can also teach you what is wrong with your car. A chugging noise can mean that the exhaust system is blocked, a rattling may mean that the vehicle is no longer in alignment and a low pitch humming or rumbling noise may mean a bad wheel bearing. Automobiles are very vocal when it comes to letting you know if they have a problem and a bad bearing is one of the most deadly problems a car can have.

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Listening for Bad Wheel Bearings


It can be hard to distinguish one automobile noise from another, but a wheel bearing will only make noise in certain situations. It will not make a noise when the car is idling, you must actually be driving the car for it to sound. Hence, if it is a rumbling that you hear, and you still hear it when the vehicle is not in motion, you can eliminate the possibility that it is the wheel bearing that is making the noise. 


The sound is likely to get louder as you increase the speed of the engine. The sound may also increase when you turn a corner. The noise will not change at all no matter what kind of terrain you are traveling over and it will also remain consistent at any speed. You should know that some bad wheel bearings will not make any noise, but rather cause your ride to pull to one side as you are driving down the road. 


Can you drive with a bad wheel bearing?

Although your car will continue to run with bad wheel bearings, you should never drive with them. A bad wheel bearing is a potentially dangerous problem and it can cause a wheel to fall off of your vehicle when you are driving. You may also notice that your car pulsates when you apply the breaks. It can also cause one of your tires to be uneven with another or cause problems with your brake system. 


How a bad Wheel Bearing Can Hurt Your ABS

Even though wheel bearings are not a direct part of the automatic brake system, they are directly related to it. A faulty wheel bearing will throw the system off and cause it to go into error mode. When a wheel bearing is worn so much that the wheel can wobble around on its axis, an ABS speed sensor code will be stored.

Tone reluctor rings are usually attached to the axle shaft of front-wheel and all-wheel-drive automobiles, If the wheel speed sensor is mounted on the vehicle’s hub, it is set at a calculated distance from the spinning ring that is on the axle. If a wheel bearing has failed, the axle and the ring will wobble about, upsetting the set location. This will make the speed sensor experience short periods where it won’t get a signal. There are even cases where the axle can rub up against the wheel speed sensor and that will cause the sensor to become useless.

How to Check for a Bad Wheel Bearing

You can always take your car to a mechanic if you want to have your wheel bearings checked. If you have jacks and a basic tool kit in your garage, you can check for a bad wheel bearing yourself. 


The first thing you want to do is check for wheel play when you rock them back and forth. Here is how to check them for wheel play.


  1. Jack up the car using two jacks and use stands. Secure the vehicle by using chocks on the wheels that remain on the ground.
  2. Grab ahold of the wheel and tire unit by the top and bottom.
  3. Check the wheel for motion by moving it back and forth.

Your wheel assembly should not have any lateral movement. If it does move back and forth, the entire hub will need to be replaced.


Observe the Vehicle for Excessive Heat

This method of checking for a bad wheel bearing is not the most effective, but it is easy and worth a try. You will get the best results with an infrared thermometer or thermal camera.

  1. Drive the vehicle and listen for noise coming from the hub bearings.
  2. Point an infrared thermometer or thermal camera at each of the wheel hub areas one by one.

If one of the hubs is much hotter than the rest, it may contain a bad bearing.


3, Look For Rough Bearings

Even if the tire has no play, the hub can still be worn out. Bearings can get rough and worn causing a growling sound when you are driving the car. Here is how to check.

  1. Jack up and support the automobile with jack stands remembering to put chocks on the wheels.
  2. Put the vehicle in neutral.
  3. Rotate the tire and wheel by hand. If it does not rotate smoothly, you may have a problem.

If you feel roughness, the hub assembly could need replacing. You should try rotating each tire by hand. That way, you will be able to tell the difference between a healthy bearing and one that is too rough. 


You can also place your hand on the suspension coil spring and rotate the wheel. If you feel a lot of vibration, there is a good chance that you have a bad hub assembly.


Getting Your Bearings Replaced

You should never ignore a need for wheel bearings. Although they are expensive, they can be a matter of life and death for both you and your car. If you cannot afford to have the work done, then you should drive another vehicle, get a ride, get a rental, or take the bus.


Replacing a wheel bearing can cost between $100 and $700; on average. It will depend a bit on the make model, and year of your car. As with all repairs, you will have a few choices for having work done on your vehicle.

Using an Auto Body Shop

When you go to an auto body shop, you will get to speak directly to the mechanic who will work on your car. In addition, shops are generally much less expensive than going to the dealership.


You can go to a completely independent auto body shop or you can go to a chain. Many chains have loyalty clubs and special coupons that are good anywhere you go in the country. 

Before selecting a mechanic, it is a good idea to check the Better Business Bureau’s online site. They will have a grade from A to F and you will be able to see any complaints against them. You can also go to the AAA website. AAA has a list of recommended mechanics. They have recommended shops all over the country. 


Be sure to ask what kind of training the mechanic has and ask if they are certified in your kind of automobile. Ask them how long it will take to get your bearings fixed and if they have the parts on hand. If you want to save money, you can call a scrap metal dealer to find the part yourself. 

Having your Vehicle Serviced at the Dealership

The dealership’s mechanic will charge more than an auto body shop. However, there are a few perks to letting the dealership work on your car. They will definitely have the right kind of bearings, tires, and wheels for your brand of vehicle so you should be back on the road in the hurry. The mechanic who services your car will have training in your make and model and they will even have formal certification.


Bad bearings can destroy the body and brake system of your vehicle. If your car is older, you may want to consider selling it and getting a new one, There are several options you will find for making money for your old auto.


Selling Your Car Online

There are many sites on which a person can sell a used vehicle. There are also many people competing to sell cars online which is what makes auto sales websites the slowest way to get rid of your vehicle. 


If you take out an add on such a site, they will charge you by the month. You may have to pay for six months before you get a potential buyer. These sites do not limit how many people can take out ads and your ad might get lost in a crowd.


 If you do get someone to call you, You will have to meet the person and show them your car. You may have to show it to several people in order to unload it.


Selling a car online is potentially scary. Murderers, assailants, and thieves will often find their victims on such sites. 


Taking Insurance Money

If your bearings were knocked around in a collision, you may be able to get money from your insurance. There are two kinds of insurance laws in America, fault and no-fault.

If you are in a no-fault state, your own insurance company should pay for your accident no matter who caused the crash. In a fault state or tort state, the driver who caused the accident will pay the costs associated with it.


An insurance company will value the automobile based on what it was worth seconds before the accident. There is not a real protocol for figuring out the value of the car; the insurer will decide how much the vehicle was worth.


Insurance companies have departments whose job is to keep their money in house. They are likely to give you too little money for your car. You can either take the amount of money they offer you or get a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf.


Take the Trade-In Value

If you decided to buy a new ride, the dealership will probably offer you a trade-in amount for your old vehicle. Automobile dealerships are savvy when haggling over price. They may try to cheat you because they think that you will want to avoid the hassle of selling your car to anyone else.


Sometimes a dealership will offer you good money for your car. Make sure to read the offer on your new vehicle very carefully if they do this. They are likely to tack the trade-in allowance they have given you back onto the price of the new car.


It is a good idea not to tell the salesperson that you have anything to trade in when you first go to make a purchase. Let them give you a final price and then let them know that you want to trade the car. Get a few offers from junk car dealers and independent buyers. Let the dealership know how much you have been offered. 

Sell the Car to Us

Cash Cars Buyers would love to buy your old clunker. We take most cars that were made between 2002 and 2018. If your car is older than that, we may still be able to help you.


Our process is very easy. Simply fill out our online form and we will get right back to you. You will need to let us know your name, email address, and cell number. We will also want to know the basic facts about your car. We will make you an offer and schedule a time for pick up. 


Our friendly team members will arrive right on time. They will perform a fast inspection, pay you in cash, and tow the old wreck away for free. Click below to get started.

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