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My car makes a rumbling noise while I drive, and it gets louder as I go faster. What causes this?

The most common cause for a rumble noise while driving is a failed wheel bearing. There are many types of hub bearings, depending on the type of vehicle you drive. Front wheel drive vehicles usually have sealed bearings, some are housed ball bearings, some are housed needle bearings.

These bearings are at the end of the front axle pressed into the front hub, where the front wheel is mounted. Rear wheel drive vehicles usually have repackable front wheel bearings. Four wheel drive vehicles can have packable or sealed front hub bearings. Front wheel bearing failure is the most common cause of a rumble noise although there can be other causes. The packable
variety should be repacked every 30,000 miles.

Diagnose tire noise or bearing noise:

Tire noise can also be one of the biggest reasons for a rumble noise. If your tires are badly cupped or feathered from lack of rotation or improper balance, then this will also cause a loud rumble which can sound similar to a failed hub bearing. Trucks with lift kits or oversized tires that are not maintained properly can resemble the same type noise that a failed wheel bearing will make. So the only advice that can be given at this point is to rotate your tires every four to five thousand miles on these vehicles.

My car makes a rumbling noise while I drive, and it gets louder as I go faster. What causes this?

There is a fairly easy way to diagnose whether your noise is a failed bearing or noisy tires. Find a low to no traffic road or an empty parking lot. While driving around 10 to 15 miles per hour (or whatever speed is necessary to duplicate your noise), then oscillate your steering wheel back and forth between the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions to rock the vehicles weight from side to side. If your noise changes pitch or gets louder on one side then you know you have a bad wheel bearing, if the noise does not change then your noise will more likely be from the tires. The failed bearing will be on the side that is louder when the weight of the vehicle is on that side.

Rear Axle bearings also can cause noise:

If you are driving a rear wheel drive car or truck, then it has a rear differential. One of the other causes of a rumble noise could be the failure of the bearings in the rear axle. Rear axle bearings generally make a constant rumble or humming noise that gets louder as you go faster. The best way to prevent the failure of axle bearings would be to change the differential fluid every 15,000 miles.