How to Diagnose a Wheel Bearing Noise

by Kevin Mclain

The wheel bearings inside of a wheel hub are the main components that enable the wheel and the hub to turn around the spindle. Over time, harsh driving conditions and lack of lubrication can cause damage to the wheel bearings or cause the wheel bearings to lock up. Once the wheel bearing is damaged or locked up, it will prevent the wheel and the hub from turning on the spindle. Always inspect the wheel bearings at the first sign of any noise.

Drive the vehicle down the road and listen out the window to determine which wheel bearing is making the noise. Park the vehicle on a flat surface.

Jack up the corner of the vehicle that has the noisy wheel bearing. Place a jack stand under the proper jacking point. Lower the vehicle onto the top of the jack.

Grab the top of the wheel with one hand and grab the bottom of the wheel with the other hand. Move the wheel in and out to determine if there is any slack between the wheel and the hub. Slack between the wheel and the hub can cause damage to the wheel bearing.

Grab one side of the wheel with one hand and grab the other side of the wheel with the other hand. Move the wheel back and forth to determine if there is any side-to-side slack. If there is, the wheel bearing could be damaged.

Grab the wheel with both hands and slowly turn it clockwise. Listen for any noises originating from the location of the wheel bearing. If any sounds are present, you have a faulty wheel bearing. If no noises are heard, remove the wheel hub and take it to an auto repair shop to have the wheel bearing visibly inspected.

Tip

  • check Any damaged wheel bearings will have to be pressed out of the wheel hub by a machine shop or an auto repair shop.

Warning

  • close Use extreme caution when working under a vehicle that is on jack stands.

Items you will need

About the Author

Kevin Mclain has more than 20 years of automotive, home improvement and landscaping experience. He has been writing for various online publications since 2002. Mclain has U.S. Army certification in automotive maintenance and repair, among more than 15 additional certifications related to the automotive field.