How To Tell Which Wheel Bearing Is Bad While Driving

Old Wheel Bearing

In determining which of your wheel bearing has a problem, you ought to know what it is and the purpose it serves. With this in mind, you can then start ruling out possibilities of a bad bearing. How the wheel bearing sounds when damaged is also something, you should know.

Well, a wheel bearing simply refers to a steel ball enclosed in a metal ring and usually several in number, to make a set. The major purpose of a wheel bearing is reducing friction thereby aiding the wheel is spinning faster.

In your car, the wheel bearing is situated on the metal axle shaft and tightly fitted with the hub located at the center of the wheel. However, the wheel bearing isn’t completely exposed therefore you need to untie lug bolts for a clear view.

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How To Exactly Ascertain

New Wheel Bearing

When driving, you can tell your car has a bad wheel bearing due to the kind of noise produced. In this article, shows you how to exactly ascertain which wheel has a bearing problem through the two steps below:

Step 1:

It is important to note that first, you need to be driving, to determine which wheel bearing has a problem. With this in mind, you can go ahead in defining the kind of noise produced. Damage on the wheel seal leads to some faint noise which gets louder as times goes.

You can relate this kind of noise to flapping. By listening keenly, you will notice the direction from which the noise is coming from thereby making it easy to which wheel bearing has a problem. Depending on how far the noise is from its source, you can tell whether it's the rear or front wheel that has a bad bearing.

Step 2:

You can opt to sway your car in a specific direction while driving, to determine the faulty wheel bearing. Ensure you sway your car while at 40mph and quite slowly to proportionally shift the car's weight from one side to the other.

As you sway your car, keenly listen to the source of the noise. In case the noise is a little less while you sway your car to the left, the faulty bearing could be on the right and vice versa. As you listen to the noise, determine the source by how the sound is from the driver's position. 

Do you want to know more? Watch video:

Signs You've Got A Faulty Wheel Bearing

1. A Snapping Noise

CV axle

This kind of noise is quite often caused by a worn-out CV joint. However, excessive bearing end play is the other major cause of such noise.

You can only notice this noise when making sharp turns, especially where there is a bend or a corner along with your driving route.

2. Some Grinding Noise

Noticed when the vehicle is in motion. The major cause of this type of noise is usually mechanical damage at the wheel-end system.

This kind of noise often heard when there is a shift in your car's load. A shift in car load can occur when you sway your car such as when overtaking.

3. Wheel Vibration

Wheel Vibration

This kind of noise calls for more attention when compared to other noises since it is caused by severe damage to your wheel bearing.

However, the noise sometimes may not be quite alarming since a loose lug bolt could be its cause.

4. Rumbling Noise While Driving

This kind of noise of noticed when driving in a straight line. However, the noise increases when you make slight left and right turn.

There's something typical in this kind of noise since it the faulty side is usually the one opposite to the rumbling one.

5. Fast Tire Wear

wheel bearing

A defective wheel bearing could cause an abnormality in the way your tires wear out. A defective wheel bearing is incapable of reducing friction thereby leading to quick wearing out of your car's tire. This abnormality is majorly caused by a worn out or loose bearing.

The tire that is directly affected by the faulty wheel bearing is the one that wears out abnormally. This makes it simple for you to determine which of the wheel bearings has a problem. 

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6. Anti-Lock Braking System Failure

This is caused by a loss in bearing clamp. Loss of bearing clamp is often caused by mechanical damage. Mechanical damage in the bearing is caused by corrosion and calls for attention. ABS failure calls upon bearing checkup.

Failure in the anti-lock braking system is quite risky therefore it's quite necessary to diagnose this problem before it causes you any unexpected eventuality. When there is too much end play, the anti-lock brake system may fail. Consider ruling out this when ascertaining the faulty wheel bearing.

7. Unusual Side Pulls When You Apply Brakes

This can be quite alarming since you don’t expect a side pull when you apply brakes. In as much as a faulty caliper causes this problem, a loose bearing can as well lead to this problem. It is quite challenging to rule out such a problem due to the other reasons that could be its cause.

Your car brakes pull due to excessive run out caused by a loose bearing. In ascertaining that this is the problem, you need to rule out the possibility of a warped rotor. Consider having a professional while ruling out this possibility since it's quite tasking. 


Having functional wheel bearings is quite important. Whenever you notice signs of a faulty bearing ensure that you solve the problem since it relieves you of unexpected worry.

Solving the problem ensures you aren’t disturbed by irritating noises caused by the faulty bearing.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
Raj Sharma - May 23, 2018

This is information is so helpful.I have noticed an unusual sound many a times while slightly turning left or right.Thanks for providing info.This surely removed my all confusion.Thanks for sharing.


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