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Thread: Symptoms of bad rear wheel bearings?

  1. #1
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    Symptoms of bad rear wheel bearings?

    So recently I've had this noise arise from the rear end of my car. I would hear it during most speeds, anywhere from ~20mph to ~60mph, with the noise growing louder as I go faster. The sound can be described as a "thud thud thud thud thud". My first reaction was that maybe my tires were out of balance or even worse, chopped.

    So I took my car to a reputable local tire shop around the corner (Maitland Tire Co.) to have the tires checked. First they run their hands down the tread, they say the tires don't feel chopped. So next they drive the car and take a listen. They're response was that the tires seem fine (no wobbles ~50mph), but the bearings are bad. They wanted to check the bearings on the spot but would charge $100 for diagnostics. I was a bit weary at throwing them money so I declined the diagnostic for the moment.

    Does this sound like wheel bearings to you all? Is there any other way to diagnose this w/o spending $100?

    Also, when I take a corner, whether I am going slow or fast, I hear a faint metal-on-metal-type of noise... almost like the bearings have dried out. Not sure if that helps or not...
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  2. #2
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    It is extremely doubtful that both rear bearings wore out at the same time. I hope they didn't try to tell you that. Your symptoms sound about right except the type of noise. Bearings tend to make more of a growling noise. Not a thump thump. It could however be a "womp womp" sound. I guess its all in your interpretation of the sound. They key is that it gets louder as you go faster and it generally doesn't change pitch very much. It just gets louder and it will sometimes change or even disappear if you go around a sharp corner
    Last edited by flyfishvt; 03-16-2011 at 12:36 PM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by flyfishvt View Post
    It is extremely doubtful that both rear bearings wore out at the same time. I hope they didn't try to tell you that. Your symptoms sound about right except the type of noise. Bearings tend to make more of a growling noise. Not a thump thump. It could however be a "womp womp" sound. I guess its all in your interpretation of the sound. They key is that it gets louder as you go faster and it generally doesn't change pitch very much. It just gets louder and it will sometimes change or even disappear if you go around a sharp corner
    They did not tell me that, but they wanted to diagnose it to figure out which side it was coming from. When I am driving I cannot determine which side it is on though, if it is indeed coming from one side.

    Your interpretation of my sound seems to be on point 100%. I'll double check what the noise does when I take a turn. I don't have video on my phone but I am almost tempted to grab my T2i either tonight or tomorrow and film some driving, maybe that will help?

    Thanks for the response btw.
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  4. #4
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    Have someone sit in the back while you drive and stick their heads to the left bottom of the rear seats to hear the rear tires and the right side.. surely you have friends, cousins, brothers, sisters, father/mother, someone who can spend 5 minutes to help you.

    Best diagnoses for free IMO.

  5. #5
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    Does you car sound like its on offroad tires? Def a wheel bearing. As suggested above have someone sit in the back and listen on both sides and you can tell which one is bad.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by IhaveanE36 View Post
    Have someone sit in the back while you drive and stick their heads to the left bottom of the rear seats to hear the rear tires and the right side.. surely you have friends, cousins, brothers, sisters, father/mother, someone who can spend 5 minutes to help you.

    Best diagnoses for free IMO.
    I'll give that a shot, thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by tH16 View Post
    Does you car sound like its on offroad tires? Def a wheel bearing. As suggested above have someone sit in the back and listen on both sides and you can tell which one is bad.
    Yep, its like I'm driving on knobbies... sucks.
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  7. #7
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    i dont think its the bearings, as TH16 said a bad bearing usually sounds like you have offroad tires, and its a constant sound not the way as you describe the sound you are getting. and 100 to diagnost this is a robbery, it only takes someone else to seat back and hear it and find out which one is the one making the sound, either way its recommended to change both at the same time, and also if you can hear this at almost any speed ,I suggest you to change this asap, if its the bearings...

  8. #8
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    Just replaced both of my rear wheel bearings, same symptoms. Occasionally, I did hear the metal to metal noise. The noise growl louder with increasing speed...it was a little irritating.
    Quote Originally Posted by SpasticDwarf View Post
    Subtlety is key my friend; it doesn't always take a bunch of stuff to make a car unique- a set of wheels and the right stance can make a car stand out.

    Roundel shifty #1.

    kuv yog hmoob.

  9. #9
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    Sorry to change the subject but recently my front left tire has been making the same type of noise. At high speeds turning at a certain angle will cause both car vibration and steering wheel vibration. Does that sound like a bearing or just my tires being out of balance/alignment? I'm trying to fix problem without over diagnosing.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by klyeballer View Post
    Sorry to change the subject but recently my front left tire has been making the same type of noise. At high speeds turning at a certain angle will cause both car vibration and steering wheel vibration. Does that sound like a bearing or just my tires being out of balance/alignment? I'm trying to fix problem without over diagnosing.
    My bad front wheel bearing had a wrrrr-wrrrr-wrrrr sound that got faster as I drove faster. Of course, my rear wheel bearing made the same sound when it was bad. Sometime if you jack that wheel off the ground you will feel play if you try to pull the wheel back and forth with your hands at 12 and 6. I only felt this play one time with my wheel bearing (on a rear in my previous 318.) The one I just did last week you could hear the bearing was bad when you spun the wheel once I took the rotor off, but there was no play.

    Another way of narrowing it down is the bad bearing will generally make more noise with more load on it. Mine would get worse with a left turn (more force on right side) and go away completely on a right turn. Also, it would get slightly better on hard acceleration, and slightly worse on braking.

    A shimmy on the front end I had got a lot better when I changed the bearing.

  11. #11
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    Last night I threw my wife in the back seat and went for a drive. She confirmed that the noise is definitely coming from the passenger side, but can hear a more faint version on the driver's side. She then took the wheel as I sat in the back seat, and I came to the same conclusion. After listening to the sound again, it is definitely more of a "womp womp" noise. Looks like I'll be replacing my bearings here soon.

    Again, thanks for everyone's help.

    Quote Originally Posted by ttkid06 View Post
    Just replaced both of my rear wheel bearings, same symptoms. Occasionally, I did hear the metal to metal noise. The noise growl louder with increasing speed...it was a little irritating.
    How long did it take you?
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  12. #12
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    when mine went out it sounded like i was popping popcorn in my wheel while i drove!

  13. #13
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    QUICK qustion guys ,is the rear bearings a complete ,bearing ,IE hub and bearing complete ,our just a single bearing ,as you know my car is 1998 318i ,

  14. #14
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    I checked for play last time I changed my oil. It seemed fine. The noise I hear is more of a ting. If I hit the rim I can kinda hear that same sound. I would just inspect it myself but I don't have the proper tools or a garage. The shop I normally use is a bit of a drive. I was thinking bearing. Just would rather fix the problem not just treat it. Thanks for the input

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by JEM E39 View Post
    QUICK qustion guys ,is the rear bearings a complete ,bearing ,IE hub and bearing complete ,our just a single bearing ,as you know my car is 1998 318i ,
    Its kind of hard to put together an answer based on what you wrote. But this is the diagram should help. The bearing is #3...


    Have you looked at http://realoem.com yet as well?
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  16. #16
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    could you drive the car with a bad rear wheel bearing....
    95 BMW M3: STG. 1

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by kide36 View Post
    could you drive the car with a bad rear wheel bearing....
    I am
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  18. #18
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    Sounds like a wheel bearing to me. Had my mechanic take care of that one.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ignacio View Post
    I am

    Im buying a m3 with a bad wheel bearing and the guy says its not driveable...
    95 BMW M3: STG. 1

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