Is That Humming Noise from Your Car a Wheel Bearing Issue? Here’s What You Need to Know

Dear Mike,

I’ve been noticing a loud humming noise coming from my car lately and it seems to change pitch every time I round a corner. A friend mentioned it could be a wheel bearing issue, but I’m not quite sure. Do you think I should take my car to the mechanic to get it checked out? How serious could this issue be? I’d appreciate any advice you could give me.

Thanks in advance,


Dear Lyndon,

Thanks for writing to me with your question regarding the loud humming noise you’ve been noticing in your car. It’s always good to address any issues with your vehicle early on, rather than waiting for it to become a bigger problem.

Based on the symptoms you’ve described, it sounds like a wheel bearing issue. As I mentioned in a previous article, wheels and tires connect your vehicle to the road, and the hub assemblies allow them to move smoothly. The road rash that hub assemblies face while driving, especially encountering potholes, can cause damage to the ball bearings or roller bearings that make up the assembly. This damage can cause the noise that you’re hearing, which usually increases with the speed of the vehicle and changes when the steering wheel is turned.

While it may not seem like a serious issue right now, it’s important to get it checked out as soon as possible. A damaged wheel bearing can cause further damage to the vehicle, and if not addressed early on, can leave you stranded on the road.

When you take your car to the mechanic, they will be able to complete a proper road test and hoist inspection to provide you with the proper diagnosis. If they determine that it is indeed a wheel bearing issue, then it’s important to have it replaced as soon as possible.

Now, I know the thought of potential car repairs can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be all bad news. In fact, I have a story that might help ease your mind a bit.

One time, a customer brought in a vehicle with a similar issue – a loud humming noise that changed when the steering wheel was turned. After an inspection, we determined that it was indeed a wheel bearing issue and needed to be replaced. But, while the technician was completing the repair, they found something unexpected – a pair of red high-heeled shoes inside the hub assembly.

Now, how did those shoes get there, you might ask? Turns out, the customer’s teenage daughter had a habit of leaving her shoes in the trunk of the car after wearing them to school. On this particular day, the trunk was full, so she decided to put them in the hub assembly for safekeeping. Safekeeping, until they caused an issue with the vehicle.

Long story short, while the customer was understandably embarrassed, we were able to fix the problem and have a good laugh about it afterwards. It just goes to show that car repairs don’t always have to be a stressful experience.

So, Lyndon, I hope this advice and story helps ease your mind a bit. Don’t hesitate to take your car in for a proper inspection and repair. It’s better to be safe than sorry. And, who knows, maybe you’ll have a funny story to tell afterwards.

Best of luck,
Mike Urban