What does a bad wheel bearing sound like?
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  1. #1
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    What does a bad wheel bearing sound like?

    I did a search but couldn't find a definitive answer.

    I replaced my 18" ASA AR1/Sumitomo HTR+ combo with a 16" Borbet WR/Kumho Ecsta ASX combo for the winter.

    I expected the level of noise to go away, but it hasn't.

    I also have a vibrating/oscillating type noise from the front left when the wheel is anywhere but straight ahead.

    It's not a clunk, not a squeak, but a whump-whump-whump-whump.

    It happens turning right or left. While driving straight if I pull the wheel even slightly to the left, the noise occurs. Pulling right also makes the noise, but not as loud.

    I thought it was a bent wheel or a cupped tire but the noise is still there with brand new wheels/tires.

    I can feel it in the steering wheel and the pedal. It's like the whole car vibrates.

    Should I be looking at the wheel bearing? CV joint? Half shaft? Warped rotor? Gremlin?

    101,000 miles, left outer CV boot replaced a couple months ago.

    Thanks in advance...

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  3. #2
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    Thats it, i had a case of that about a month ago. It almost sounds like a windows open or maybe a low bass sound.

  4. #3
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    i agree. definately sounds like the bearing to me. i had one go once, kinda sounded like an airplane propeller when i turned.

  5. #4
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    On the way to work this morning I listened really carefully. Other than the tire noise (which is very much reduced with new tires), I could discern two distinct noises.

    The first is the airplane propeller noise but the second noise is the whump-whump--it's also directly proportional to the rotation speed of the wheel, kind of like a wobble that's 1 whump per rotation.

    Are they both bearing related?

  6. #5
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    I don’t think I could replicate the sound of the failed bearing but when it happened to my this past summer, two things were apparent: a) the sound intensified at around 30-40 mph and grew more intense with higher speed; b) the sound persisted when driving straight but disappeared when making a turn in the direction of the failing bearing (right in my case). Hope that helps!

  7. #6
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    The airplane noise is consistent; the whump-whump is slight when going straight, gets loud turning right, and gets really freakin' loud when turning left.

    Everything seems to be pointing to the bearing. Time to make an appointment...

  8. #7
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    Not to be picky, but you should always run matched winter tires. When your in the snow and the front slows quicker than the rear: whoopidity doooo you end up facing the wrong direction. This is much more likely to happen with wholly different tread patterns. 4 channel ABS and ESP help some, but why take the chance?? Lousy service advisors always seem to recommed replacing two fronts before rears, I don't get it.

    As to the noise issue, I have a similar propeller noise coming from both front wheels, the noise never goes away while turning because it happens on both sides. Straight ahead it is quiet. I thought it was bearings at first, but it gets quieter with speed and hasn't progressed like my previous wheel bearing problems (I've been driving 13K like this) The dealers have never mentioned a thing when they test drive. ( I don't clue them in, because I don't want to start replacing everyting under the sun).

    The whump sound seems like a CV joint to me. When it gets real bad, you'll be afraid to drive.

    Good luck!
    Have you tried Swedish Solution in Cleveland, I've HEARD they do good work!

  9. #8
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    I just got 4 new tires yesterday--I don't think I'm up for buying more. I had my CV boot replaced because it has a small tear, but I would have hoped they would have told me the CV joint was bad when they took it apart.

    This car is getting to be expensive this year. :roll:

  10. #9
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    I hear you on the $ issue. That's why I've been riding my sound for 13k, I really want a chip, but I have to keep fixing stuff. :roll:

  11. #10
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    I did a little more reading and now I'm wondering if I have a bent axle. From what I've read the symptom of a bad CV joint is that it clicks. I definitely don't have a click.

  12. #11
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    I had a bad wheel bearing a couple months ago on my '02. (Note: replaced under warranty even though I'm slammed on H&R Sports/Bilsteins.)

    I also had that humming/propeller type sound, but only when I turned left. Really noticeable only at highway speeds through the car.

    Maybe your problem has just been developing this problem longer.
    Anyway, it's always best to get it checked out as soon as you notice something, or else if other things break the dealer might not be able to replace under warranty.

  13. #12
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    Low speeds most likely CV, higher speeds its bearings. Mine did a howl just off wheel center at speeds above 40mph. Replaced both sides 4 months ago and it went away. Now I hear a small low speed noise, time for axles soon I think! But right now its pretty quiet.

  14. #13
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    Interesting description .. humming/propeller sound .. I have a sound like that that I have been chasing. I only hear it at around +55 MPH and under no throttle load ( The point where its neither accellerating or decellerating) on flat roads. If the pavement is pebbled its hard to hear. Also is more noticable with the performance tires on but still there with the stock ones .. The performance tires have the same sidewall height just stiffer so the tire is absorbing less noise.

    I do feel some peddle feedback. I had it at the dealer but at the time no place to run 60 MPH on a quiet road.

    I had a wheel bearing replaced by them for another reason and I cant say if this noise came after the replacement.

    The noise is more evident now I have been dropped but that wasn't the cause. Everything is a little more noticable noise wise since the drop.

  15. #14
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    If you've seen Star Trek IV (the one where they go back in time to get a couple humpback whales), it sounds just like that probe that was orbiting the earth and destroying the oceans.

    Even with the new taller and quieter tires, the noise is deafening. I'm leaning towards replacing the axles and the wheel bearings.

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDigga
    If you've seen Star Trek IV (the one where they go back in time to get a couple humpback whales), it sounds just like that probe that was orbiting the earth and destroying the oceans.

    Even with the new taller and quieter tires, the noise is deafening. I'm leaning towards replacing the axles and the wheel bearings.
    Mine sounds like this only higher pitched. It's louder and more pronounced turning left and less severe turning right. I also have some shaking or very mild bouncing between 35 and 45mph.

    I have stock adelaides and Falken Ziex ZE-512s in 205/60/15. Stock suspension.

    The dealer replaced the right-front bearing but the sound didn't go away. They then blamed the sound on cupped tires on the right side. I wasn't able to perceive any cupping when I checked the tires out myself. I'm going to rotate them side-to-side for an hour (directional tires, don't want to leave them that way) and see if the sound changes. The funny thing is the dealer mounted the right side tires backwards when they first installed them in August. I had them fix that problem about 50-100 miles later when they replaced my swaybar links (had to wait for the parts to arrive).

    I'm going to get another opinion at a highly respected alignment/tire/suspension shop here in town after the holidays.

    I'm wondering if it might be something else.

  17. #16
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    Last bearing I had go bad (not on the Passat) you could hear it get louder as the force downward got higher. So as the car would go over dips on the highway at speed and the pavement dropped away and then came back up, it was like this:

    wObwObwOb-wobwob-WOBWOBWOB-wobwobwob-wObwObwOb

    ----------------\__________________/------------------------------


    ...the downward force on the bearings is constant, pavement drops away and it gets quiet for a sec, then the car compresses the suspension (and loads the bearings harder, it gets louder), pavement comes back up (suspension still compressed), car lifts as the pavement drops back to normal level, it gets quieter, car settles back down, back to normal noise level.

    That sorta make sense?

  18. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by AgVWB5
    Last bearing I had go bad (not on the Passat) you could hear it get louder as the force downward got higher. So as the car would go over dips on the highway at speed and the pavement dropped away and then came back up, it was like this:

    wObwObwOb-wobwob-WOBWOBWOB-wobwobwob-wObwObwOb

    ----------------\__________________/------------------------------


    ...the downward force on the bearings is constant, pavement drops away and it gets quiet for a sec, then the car compresses the suspension (and loads the bearings harder, it gets louder), pavement comes back up (suspension still compressed), car lifts as the pavement drops back to normal level, it gets quieter, car settles back down, back to normal noise level.

    That sorta make sense?
    nice

  19. #18
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    :bow:

  20. #19
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    noise noise

    man i have a totally different kind of noise, you guys may have heard, maybe not. its more like a zzzzzzzzzzzzinnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggg type noise... sorry couldnt think of a word to describe it... but its really loud early in the mornings, especially when i turn the wheel when pulling out of my garage... btw, i have a 99 B5 1.8t with adelaides. anyone know what it could be?

  21. #20
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    Is it a resonant type of sound or like a hum? My friend's NB has the same thing.

  22. #21
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    Re: noise noise

    Quote Originally Posted by saad147
    man i have a totally different kind of noise, you guys may have heard, maybe not. its more like a zzzzzzzzzzzzinnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggg type noise... sorry couldnt think of a word to describe it... but its really loud early in the mornings, especially when i turn the wheel when pulling out of my garage... btw, i have a 99 B5 1.8t with adelaides. anyone know what it could be?
    Your power steering fluid low?

  23. #22
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    saad147
    if your PS fluid is low make sure you replace it with the correct variety. This is very important on VAG cars!! :wink:

  24. #23
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    i have one of those for sale right wheel bearing kit

  25. #24
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    oh CRAP!

    Crap, i never even thought about that.. all along i was thinking it would be something to do with the axle. I just checked the fluid and you were right.. its barely at minimum, and i think ive been driving like this for the past 2k miles.... so wats the worst case scenario? am i screwed? the noise has gotten just a bit worse... will it go away as soon as i put some PS fluid in there?

  26. #25
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    Re: oh CRAP!

    Quote Originally Posted by saad147
    Crap, i never even thought about that.. all along i was thinking it would be something to do with the axle. I just checked the fluid and you were right.. its barely at minimum, and i think ive been driving like this for the past 2k miles.... so wats the worst case scenario? am i screwed? the noise has gotten just a bit worse... will it go away as soon as i put some PS fluid in there?
    Bring it up to the correct level and the noise will prolly go away .. but like said above .. *MAKE* sure you use the proper fluid as recommended in the maual.

    Usually the noise will go away .. its mostly because as you turn the power steering pump has no fluid to draw from so it sucks air ..

    You may want to check the reservour more often in case you have a leak.

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