2000 Toyota Camry makes wha-wha-wha noise

I’ve got a 2000 Toyota Camry with about 120,000 miles on it. We bought it used in 2012 and it’s been a great car except it makes a wha-wha-wha noise when driving. The sound speeds up as the car speeds up and becomes a whine at highway speed. The noise can be heard from both outside and inside the car and sounds like it is coming from the front of the car. About a year ago I took it to a mechanic and he said that he drove it as did another mechanic in the shop and they couldn’t even hear the noise. The noise now seems to be getting louder. I think it is probably a wheel bearing and it is time to take it to a different mechanic. Any other ideas?

“About a year ago I took it to a mechanic and he said that he drove it as did another mechanic in the shop and they couldn’t even hear the noise.”

No offense to you pro’s, but many (most) professional auto technicians have hearing loss. It comes with the job. Years of being subjected to loud noises (think air impact wrench and whistling air guns) can take a toll. Certain frequency ranges are blown out.

Does the sound change frequency or volume with steering? If you quickly change lanes or take a fairly sharp curve (either right or left) does that alter the sound?


Ask your shop to put it on their lift and turn the wheels by hand listening for noises, and do their push/pull/twist tests to check for any play in the wheel bearings. At the same time ask them to check the tires for signs of unusual wear patterns or out of roundness. Be sure to tell them if the sound changes if you are coasting in neutral vs driving in gear, and whether or not it is worse during accelerations or turns.

George Brings Up A good Point… Tires. Age Is Not A Friend Of Tires. I’ve Had “Old” Tires Develop That Wha-Wha-Wha Symptom. The Tires Go Out Of Round And Or Develop An Uneven Tread Surface.

Find the DOT numbers on each tire. The last 4 digits should give the week and year that the tire was manufactured. A DOT number ending …4309 indicates a tire was made in the 43rd week of 2009.

At a very low speed on a flat surface, can you discern any side-to-side movement in the front or rear of the car?

Let us know what you find.


Both CSA and George make good points. I understand the hearing loss issue all too well. Decades of motorcycle riding, working as a mechanic, liking my music loud both at concerts and my own guitar rigs, etc takes its toll.

Many times I have to diagnose a car by feel as certain sound pitches (usually higher ones) simply cannot be heard by me.

I would hope that the mechanics checked for play in the wheel bearings, roughness, and the condition of the tires as to tread wear irregularities and/or weather checking.