How to Tell Which Wheel Bearing Is Bad While Driving

While driving, a bad wheel bearing can cause different symptoms such as a grinding, whirring, or clanking sounds from the wheels, a loose or vibrating steering wheel, pulling to one side while braking, or an ABS dash light.

Many wheel hubs come as an assembly with a wheel bearing and ABS sensor, and this can affect the types of symptoms you might experience.

Amplified Noise While Turning

A bad wheel hub can increase or decrease in volume while taking a turn. Because the outside wheel works harder when turning, the bad wheel bearing will decrease in sound when turning on the side with the good hub, and it will increase in sound when turning on the side with the bad hub. So if you hear an amplified sound from the wheel while turning, it’s likely the hub on the opposite side that needs to be replaced.

bad wheel bearing symptoms dashboard lights

Grinding Sound or Vibrating or Loose Steering Wheel

A grinding noise or a vibrating steering wheel could mean the bearing on a wheel hub assembly is wearing out. A worn wheel bearing can also create some looseness in the wheel, which causes loose steering. If the steering wheel is vibrating, it’s likely the front hub assembly needs to be replaced.

ABS Sensor

For wheel hub assemblies with an ABS sensor built in, the ABS light on the dash will illuminate if the sensor is damaged. This may call for a new wheel hub assembly.

Testing a Loose Hub or Wheel Bearing

How Do I Tell If I Have A Bad Front Wheel Bearing Hub Assembly?

To confirm if the suspected wheel hub is defective, jack up the vehicle at the specific wheel. Put the car in neutral and chock the wheels. Test for looseness at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions and if the wheel is firm, test at the 6 and 12 o’clock positions. If it is not secured firmly, the hub will have to be replaced. Considering it is a safety hazard that can lead to a lost wheel while driving, we recommend replacing the hub as soon as possible.

If you’ve replaced the brakes, replacing the hub requires a bit more time and a few more steps. Check out our model-specific how-to videos and replace your old hub assembly with guaranteed quality parts from right here on our site.

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/larrison/7851256906


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