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Common Wheel (or Hub) Bearing Failures: More Signs!

There’s nothing better than listening to your favorite song while you’re driving down the road. But if you have your music playing loud, you might not hear the hum of a bad wheel hub. And that can be dangerous. But if you want to know how to identify the problem, we bring you here everything about common wheel bearing failures.

If you are deciding to buy a car, you should be aware of loud sounds, since the noise of a faulty wheel hub assembly is evident. Sometimes the noise is not heard by the pilot, but the annoying and conspicuous glow of the check engine light is very evident.

Common Wheel Bearing Symptoms and Failures

The wheel hub, which is usually integrated with the wheel bearing in a single assembly, can cause various problems. Over the years some of the common wheel bearing symptoms and failures have been found to be:

1- Growling or buzzing noise

The most common sign, and the most common wheel hub failure, is a snarling or buzzing rotational noise while driving . Damage to the bearing portion of the component causes the disconcerting noise.

2- Vibration while driving

In some cases, an extremely worn wheel hub assembly can cause sideways movement in the associated wheel and tire, leading to vibrations while driving.

3- Pulsations when braking

The brake rotors or drums in your car are mounted to the wheel hub (or integrated into the wheel). Therefore, a warped, distorted or loose wheel hub assembly can cause pulsation under braking.

4- Abnormal tire wear

A faulty wheel bearing assembly can put the corresponding wheel out of alignment, causing abnormal tire wear.

5- Illuminated warning lights

On some vehicles, the anti-lock system (ABS) wheel speed sensor and reluctor disc are integrated into the wheel hub assembly. So a problem with the hub assembly can trigger the ABS warning light and possibly the traction control warning light as well.

What does a wheel bearing do?

Most vehicles have four individual wheel hubs, each of which acts as a mounting point for one of the wheel/tire assemblies.

The hub itself is a flange with protruding mounting fasteners, called studs, to which the wheel mounts. As the car moves down the road, the wheel hub rotates on the wheel bearing, allowing the wheel and tire to turn.

Many modern cars combine the wheel hub and wheel bearing in a single integral wheel hub assembly. The unit is often referred to simply as a wheel hub or wheel bearing. Normally, it is the bearing part of the unit that causes abnormal noise and other problems.

However, on some vehicles, the hub is separate from the bearing. The hub slides on the swivel bearing, which is pressed into the steering knuckle, allowing the wheel and tire to spin. In this type of design, the hub itself usually only causes problems if it is bent, warped, or has broken studs .


In some applications (typically pickup trucks) the hub may be integrated with the brake drum or rotor. Together, the brake rotor and hub assembly rotate on a set of wheel bearings that slide on an axle.

Four wheel drive vehicles may have front locking hubs. The design locks the hub (either automatically or manually) to the axle so that rotational force can be directed from the front differential to the front wheels.

Not all vehicles have wheel hubs at all four corners . For example, some four wheel drive and rear wheel drive applications use an axle with a flanged end. The wheel and tire assembly mounts to the flange bolts.

What to do if you think you have a bad bearing hub?

Turn down the volume on the stereo for a minute and listen to your car as it drives down the road. Do you hear the growl of a bad bearing assembly?

If so, you’ll want to fix the problem immediately by replacing the faulty wheel hub. When this part fails, it is a security issue . If the assembly fails, you can cause the wheel and tire to lock up or come off, resulting in a total loss of control.

Of course, there are issues (such as hollowed-out tires, worn differential bearings, etc.) that a faulty wheel hub can mimic. You’ll want to run a thorough diagnostic to make sure the hub is faulty. Or, if turning wrenches isn’t your thing, you can have a professional perform the diagnosis and repair for you.

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