What Might Be Causing Your Noisy Wheel Bearings

Last Updated on March 14, 2023 by Jess

The wheel bearings on a vehicle or trailer are often overlooked until they start screaming for your attention. As the saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Right? This rule applies to wheel bearings as well. Noisy wheel bearings are a sign that something is wrong, and you shouldn’t ignore it.

Today, we’re going to help you narrow down the possibilities and understand why you have noisy wheel bearings. Let’s get started!

What are wheel bearings?

Wheel bearings are mechanical components between the wheel and the axle. They support the wheel as it turns, allowing it to rotate freely while providing stability and reducing friction.

Wheel bearings are usually made of high quality steel and sealed to protect against dirt, dust and moisture.

Wheel bearings can develop problems due to normal wear, improper installation or exposure to the elements. When damaged or worn, they can make a loud noise that indicates the need for repair or replacement.

Regular maintenance and inspections can ensure longevity and prevent costly repairs.

Are noisy wheel bearings common?

Noisy wheel bearings occur more frequently with age. This may be due to normal wear, improper installation or other causes, which we will discuss later.

But just because they occur frequently doesn’t mean you can ignore them. It’s important to have your wheel bearing noises investigated and repaired as soon as possible.

Otherwise, you could end up with a more serious problem or safety issue if your bearings aren’t working properly.

Is it okay to drive with noisy wheel bearings?

It is generally not recommended to drive with noisy wheel bearings. You should have them repaired as soon as possible. This may indicate that the bearings are damaged, worn or defective, which can lead to more serious problems if it is not fixed.

In some cases, damaged or worn wheel bearings can cause the wheel to lock up and you can lose control of the vehicle, which can be very dangerous.

It can also damage other components of the vehicle, such as the suspension and brake system. If you want to keep yourself and your vehicle as safe as possible, you should avoid driving with wheel bearing problems.

How to fix noisy wheel bearings?

If you suffer from noisy wheel bearings, you can fix them in a number of ways. Unfortunately, you will probably want to pay a professional to do it.

Depending on their age and condition, you may need to replace or repack the bearings. However, if they are not adequately lubricated or have other contaminants, filling them with new grease may solve the problem.

Two other possible solutions are adjusting or tightening other components. Something as simple as a loose axle or spindle nut can cause noisy wheel bearings.

In addition, if your wheels are not properly aligned, this can cause noise that might be thought to be coming from the wheel bearings.

If you are having difficulty determining the cause of the noise, have your vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic. He can help you identify the problem and assist with repairs if necessary.

Causes of loud wheel bearings

There are a number of causes of loud wheel bearing noises. Let’s take a look at some possible causes of abnormal noise while driving.

Normal wear

Unfortunately, wheel bearings don’t last forever and are subject to normal wear and tear. At the end of their useful life, they start to make noise. You can expect a service life of 85,000 to 100,000 miles.

However, mileage can vary significantly depending on where you drive and the quality of the bearings.

You need to perform maintenance regularly, especially if you want to extend the life of the bearings. If you don’t, you may need to replace the bearings sooner or more often than necessary.

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Contamination

If you frequently drive through mud, water or salty roads, the sounds you hear could be from contamination. Although wheel bearings have seals, stubborn dirt and debris can get into the grease. The more these items contaminate the grease, the more damage they can do.

This is a problem that will not fix itself. You will need to repack the bearings to remove the contaminants. The damage will probably only get worse until you replace the contaminated grease with new, fresh grease.

Overload

One mistake many drivers need to avoid is overloading their vehicles. There’s a reason vehicles have payload capacities – or the total weight a vehicle can carry.

When you load a vehicle with equipment and accessories, you put tremendous stress on the wheel bearings. That can cause them to wear out faster and possibly even fail.

Whether you’re towing your vehicle or loading it with passengers, you need to watch your weight. Otherwise, you could be faced with noisy wheel bearings and have to replace them sooner than expected.

A truck towing a motorhome with too much weight, resulting in noisy wheel bearings

Improper installation

Whether it’s a factory installation or a do-it-yourself installation, noisy wheel bearings can indicate improper installation. Even a small mistake can have a big impact.

Something as simple as a worn nut, bolt or seal can lead to serious problems. It’s important that you only allow knowledgeable and trustworthy mechanics to work on your vehicles.

Accidents and other impacts

Accidents and other hard impacts can seriously damage your wheel bearings. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take a head-on collision to damage these delicate components.

Something as simple as a pothole or bump can cause significant damage to your vehicle. When turning, always leave enough room to avoid hitting the curb with your wheels, which can also cause damage.

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An RV lying on the side of the road after an accident, resulting in noisy wheel bearings.

Do not ignore loud wheel bearings

Ignoring noisy wheel bearings can have serious consequences. While no one likes going to the repair shop, if you don’t address the problem, you’ll likely only increase the cost of the repair.

If you notice any unusual noises or performance issues, you should take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic as soon as possible. The sooner you do, the sooner you and your vehicle can get back on the road.

Are you hearing noises coming from your wheels?

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