2009 Honda Civic Sdn - Sounds like ball bearings

Lately my 2009 Honda Civic LX has started making a noise that sounds like ball bearings… a steady rumble that rises in pitch, most loud between 35 and 50 miles an hour. It is too low of a pitch to be heard below 35 mph and too high of a pitch above 50 mph. I took the car to my trusted mechanic and he replaced both front wheel bearings. He said he was sure that’s the noise yet I can hear it clearly. The noise is independent of engine revs or tire noise. I can track those cleanly separately from this rrrrrrrrrrrrr noise. I keep saying it sounds like bearings because I know what bad bearings sound like. It doesn’t sound like a broken tire belt because it doesn’t go whoop-whoop. It’s just a constant rrrrrr. Help! Please and thank you!

What about the rear bearings?

They haven’t been replaced. I was thinking about that - maybe it’s just my ears thinking that the noise is coming from the front of the vehicle. I told the mechanic that it is coming from the front so maybe I misled him and maybe all 4 wheels have bad bearings? It is possible that the noise is from the rear bearings and just reverberating through the cabin to where I think it is from the front. I guess I could try getting the rear bearings replaced, if there are no other ideas that show up here.

If you told the mechanic it was front bearings then those will be replaced whether they are good or bad.

Bearing noises will fool you as to their location. It helps to have a friend drive the car past you while you listen on each side.


Thanks @Mustangman … I’ll give this a try and have someone drive it past me. Another thing I’ll do is fold down the back seats and sit in the back while someone else drives for a short distance in an empty parking lot. Would be able to catch it that way too.

Question for you - does it make sense to you that if it were bearings, that the pitch would change (higher at higher revs, lower at lower revs) to where it becomes almost inaudible at high/low speeds? Just trying to match symptoms to my uneducated guess.

It can or it might not. The noise can be masked by other things.

These type of noises can be hard to pinpoint. There are mechanics that own devices to help narrow it down - microphones that can be attached to various car parts.

If it is a wheel bearing, or any other bearing, it won’t get better with time. It will get easier to find! If it is a brake noise it might just go away and never come back.