1999 Buick LeSabre Howling/Whining noise

I hear a noise that sounds like a bad wheel bearing when I hit 68 mph, and it gets worse when I go faster. I’ve had both bearings replaced, but still hear the noise. It is directly related to speed…the faster I go beyond 68 mph the worse it gets. Any ideas?

Don’t drive faster than 65

You don’t say whether front or back or front wheel drive or not etc., but tires would be a natural suspect. You can try rotating and see if that changes anything.

You say you replace “both” wheel bearings…If the car has 4 wheels, it has 4 sets of wheel bearings…Also, some tire designs tend to get very noisy after the tread wears about half-way…

I go with tires.

It’s possible you need a whole new hub, not just a bearing. Sometimes the bearing seal will make the whine, and just replacing the bearing alone won’t get rid of the noise.

Sorry…I had both front wheel bearings replaced and that helped a lot, but the noise is still there, but about half as loud. I also had the tires rotated…same noise. Any suggestions besides ear plugs or driving the Buick like a really old man?

What else rotates up there? Axle shafts?

You could still have one or more problematic rear wheel bearings. That would be consistent with the symptoms. If you are certain the noise is coming from the front, and not from the back … then … hmmmm … you had the tires switched front to back then … both fronts moved to the back and visa versa ? … if so … hmmm … that’s a tough one … the only thing I can think of is

  • There’s still something wrong w/the front wheel bearings. Maybe one of the bearings was faulty new, out of the box. Or was damaged during installation. That’s easy to do if the install is done by an inexperienced mechanic. If done by a veteran mechanic, unlikely.
  • Something is loose or incorrect in the brakes. Possible since the brakes had to be partially disassembled to replace the wheel bearings.
  • If this is a front wheel drive car, cv joint wear and tear can cause this symptom.

Does the noise change going around a curve or weaving back and forth in a lane?

Like I said before, you probably need a whole new hub, not just a new bearing. It’s not that expensive:


Interesting comment above. Where does the bearing seal fit in that ass’y @jesmed ? Can you see it in the photo? What does it do? It seems like if the bearing presses in ok , there’d be nothing else that could move, and therefore nothing to make a whining noise, other than the bearing itself. I agree it’s a good frugal method to replace the bearing to just replace the entire hub ass’y, but I guess I don’t understand how it could whine if a new bearing was pressed in, provided the bearing was good and wasn’t damaged during the install. How could the seal make a noise?

@George, Ford Freestars had this problem with bearing seal noise that could only be fixed by replacing the hub, not just the bearing.



See post #10: “Problem was the right front caliper was hung up and overheated the wheel bearing assembly (HUB). This caused the seal to get fried (hardened) after cooking the bearing grease. Problem was resolved by replacing the hub assembly.”

(by the way, that was a different issue from the hub recall due to cracking from improper heat treatment…many Freestar hubs were replaced under the recall)

If replacing the front bearings took half the noise away, replacing the rear bearings should take the rest of the noise away.

I don’t think you get just the bearing anymore but the whole assembly. And its a Buick not a Ford.

I had noise from my Altima that sure sounded like a bad wheel bearing or two to me. It wasn’t; four new tires did the trick.

Insightful asked a great question…the noise in the front end is more noticeable when I have to steer to the right…especially when I am on a highway that is sloped to the left so that I have to gently steer to the right

Then it’s most likely the left bearing/hub.

Re: Faulty front wheel bearing seal makes a whistling sound?

I wonder if it isn’t actually that when the seal fails the bearing lube leaks out and the dry bearing makes the noise.

I just want to thank all of you for taking the time to help me out…I’m not at all knowledgable about cars, so your replies really taught me how to be specific about my issue so that someone else would be able to understand the problem I’ve been experiencing. After visiting my mechanic today (he is a very honest guy, and I trust him) I found out that he replaced both front wheel hubs assemblies, which include the bearings. I know this because he took the wheels off and I could see the shiny, new parts. At this point I guess I won’t worry about it too much…thanks again guys!!!