Wheel bearings going bad?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by LuckyTaxi, Nov 6, 2009.

  1. LuckyTaxi

    LuckyTaxi Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2000
    Messages:
    6,037
    Likes Received:
    4
    So a month later after replacing rotors and brakes I still hear this humming noise from the front drivers side. It's more of a constant squealing that doesnt go away until I slow down. I read various articles how you can really tell if its the wheel bearing if you do a couple of tests. One of them requires you to put your car in neutral and tap the gas pedal to see if it makes the noise. If you don't hear the noise then it's not your wheel bearings. Well, I didnt hear it when I tried it. So another article stated it could be the tranny!! UGH ...

    I dropped it off at Firestone this morning and the guy is arguing w/ me saying wheel bearings dont make humming noises. I said look just check it out, your growling could be my squealing/humming. If the damn thing can fall out due to a wheel bearing, I want to make sure we rule it out. I have no idea what it is, and when toyota had my car last month they couldnt figure out what it was. But that was because the noise occurred randomly. These past few days, I've heard it each time I drove the car.
     
  2. Vetterin

    Vetterin Senior member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Messages:
    973
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think Mr. Firestone is wrong on this one. The first sign of a bad bearing is all most always a noise (usually humming). The easiest way to check is to see if you can stop the noise while driving by steering left or right. If the noise stops while turning you found the problem.
    Never heard about checking a bad bearing by putting your trans in netural.
     
  3. LuckyTaxi

    LuckyTaxi Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2000
    Messages:
    6,037
    Likes Received:
    4
    yea, I figure it wuoldnt be making "growling" noises off the bat, it's gotta start somewhere you know. I know nothing about cars so I figure let them take a look at it. Toyota didnt find anything but that was because the noise wasn't there when they drove it. These past two days, it's been more noticeable. If they can't figure it out, back to the "stealer."

    I dont want my freaking wheel to fall off!!!!!
     
  4. Meghan54

    Meghan54 Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2009
    Messages:
    7,786
    Likes Received:
    669
    Front wheel drive or rear wheel drive vehicle?
     
  5. LuckyTaxi

    LuckyTaxi Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2000
    Messages:
    6,037
    Likes Received:
    4
    02 Lexus IS300

    rear wheel drive
     
  6. Meghan54

    Meghan54 Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2009
    Messages:
    7,786
    Likes Received:
    669

    Well, given it's a rear wheel drive, then the above test you did is meaningless in diagnosing wheel bearing problems. If your car is in neutral and you rev the engine, of course no wheel bearing noise will happen because the front wheels are in no way connected to the drivetrain at all. So, no matter what you do, revving the engine in or out of gear, or anything else like that....the front end is essentially isolated from the drivetrain.

    What you may notice, on the other hand, is if the noise increases/decreases/changes in character when braking vs. driving along, or if it changes when turning left/right.

    Those things will put stress or remove stress from a wheel bearing, causing it to change noise character, if it is indeed a wheel bearing making the noise.

    And, no, your wheel won't fall off......lock up maybe, but by then the bad bearing will be making such a horrible grinding sound you won't want to move the car.
     
  7. LuckyTaxi

    LuckyTaxi Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2000
    Messages:
    6,037
    Likes Received:
    4
    LOL ... i didnt think of that, but in my head I was like "wait, this wouldnt work cause my wheel wouldnt be moving anyways so why would this test even work?" Makes sense now cause I have a rear wheel drive car.

    Noise seems to die down once I start breaking and yes when turning wheel (dont recall which way), the squealing noise does seem a little more noticeable.

    Ok feel a litte better but still not good if the damn wheel locks up.

    Here's my question, can one diagnosis a bad wheel bearing if it's just starting to act up (no grinding noise). The guy was telling me it can't be my bearings but I'm like maybe it's beginning to go bad. I'll find out in a couple of hrs when he takes it off to inspect.
     
  8. iamwiz82

    iamwiz82 Lifer

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2001
    Messages:
    30,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    Jack up the car and wiggle the tire from the top and bottom, that's the easiest way to test.

    How is the tire wear on it? Odd wear can cause sounds.
     
  9. LuckyTaxi

    LuckyTaxi Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2000
    Messages:
    6,037
    Likes Received:
    4
    i am losing treads on the inner part of the tires. it's not down to the bare minimum where you start to see the white linings but I also experience bumpy rides due to the choppy surface. I've had that for a little more 5 months now, this squealing noise surfaced a couple of months ago but only these past few days that it's been constant. Before it would come and go.
     
  10. brblx

    brblx Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    5,501
    Likes Received:
    0
    putting the car in neutral and revving the engine does nothing. the test you were trying to do is to put the car in the air and rev the engine with it in drive. if the noise is still there with no load on the wheel bearings, it's a trans problem.

    shitty tires will roar just like a wheel bearing. they can also change pitch when you steer back and forth, so that test is usually shit- unless the noise is completely disappearing and coming back as you steere back and forth, then it most surely is a bearing.

    put the car on stands check to see if a wheel actually feels loose (the bearing has play). if not that, put your hand on the coil spring at each corner of the corner, and spin the wheel. bad bearings will often produce a vibration that you can feel through the spring.

    but even with a bad wheel bearing, it's possible for a car to seem perfectly fine in the air- no looseness and no rough feeling when turning the wheels. sometimes the bearing just has to be loaded with the car going down the road to present a symptom. this is why you need a decent mechanic to diagnose it and not some ignoramus at firestone.
     
  11. SpatiallyAware

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2009
    Messages:
    12,960
    Likes Received:
    2


    This. Also, go for highway run and immediately pull over and stop. Feel the center of the wheel - often times a failing wheel bearing will heat up more than a good one.
     
  12. exdeath

    exdeath Lifer

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2004
    Messages:
    13,684
    Likes Received:
    6
    Bearing noise is pretty consistent and concurrent with any other noises. If you've experienced it before it's unmistakable, it has a way of tickling your teeth. A constant drone and/or fast but faint pulse in the wheel. Additionally you may suddenly have ABS errors as the reluctor disc on the hub wobbles under the sensor ever so slightly.

    Wiggling the tire isn't really going to tell you much depending on the state of other components like your strut, ball joint, and tie rod end.

    To really check the bearing you need to pull the wheel and brake caliper & disk off the spindle assembly and check for play and runout at the hub. Either by hand if it's severe enough, or with a dial indicator. Even if there isn't any play, you should still be able to turn it with your hands and feel any pitting, etc.
     
    #12 exdeath, Nov 6, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 6, 2009
  13. brblx

    brblx Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    5,501
    Likes Received:
    0
    uh. if there's no play in the hub with the wheel being used as a lever to move it, there's not going to be any play with the wheel and rotor off. and the method i posted of simply resting your hand on the coil spring will be more sensitive to roughness that just turning the hub with your hand and attempting to feel if it's bad.

    and again- not all bad wheel bearings present symptoms with the car in the air. for that matter, they're not all that unmistakable a noise, either. a badly worn tire (i.e. chopped- angular wear, particularly on the inside edge) will roar just like a bearing.
     
  14. exdeath

    exdeath Lifer

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2004
    Messages:
    13,684
    Likes Received:
    6
    Just saying, someone without experience and asking for DIY advice being told "see if you can wobble the wheel" may feel normal movement in the wheel that is something else entirely without realizing that the whole knuckle and suspension system is moving normally and not just the wheel and hub. I'm being more specific.
     
  15. brblx

    brblx Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    5,501
    Likes Received:
    0
    i just think using the wheel is a better method. yeah, someone who's never checked a front end before might not 'get it,' but that's why i say he should take it to a good mechanic who has experience with these types of problems. shouldn't take more than 15 minutes to track the problem down.

    the OP doesn't seem like much of a DIY'er, anyway.