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2012 Honda Civic Wheel Noise

Hello everyone, we have a 2012 Honda Civic with about 70k miles. Recently it’s started to make two different noises that we think are coming from the back left wheel. The light metallic grinding sound is usually triggered when we drive uphill and to the right. The louder sound is triggered on a hard right.

We took it to the mechanic and he said he can’t find anything wrong with the car, except that our tires were nearly bald and cupping. We replaced all four tires because we were planning on doing that anyway. After the tires were replaced, the sounds went away for one day and now they are back. What could be causing this sound? It is not triggered by braking. The mechanic said the brakes are fine now but will probably need to be replaced in the next year.

Here are two videos for reference:


Thanks for your help!

The humming sound at the very beginning of the second video is my toddler making a car noise. The loud sound doesn’t kick in until I make the turn. Just to clarify :slight_smile:

Unfortunately I was unable to hear the sound very well (my computer won’t get very loud), but I thank you for taking the time to provide the videos anyway.

Usually the type of symptoms you describe come from a worn or damaged bearing. The damaged bearing, or maybe even a bent rim due to the pothole that damaged the bearing, might even be the source of the tire cupping. Unfortunately, a damaged bearing can be difficult to verify. Modern cars use “double row” ball bearings to benefit from the low rolling resistance, but they’re more susceptible to impact damage than the old tapered roller bearings that were used in the old days.

Sometimes by removing the wheel and turning the hub by hand roughness can be felt through your fingers. The wheel and tire weight can tend to dampen vibrations. But in your case you may want to try a different shop. Perhaps a different tech can feel it.

Understand, however, that I’m only making an educated guess. You need a good chassis diagnostician to nail the real cause down.

Thank you. We considered it being a wheel bearing problem but every wheel bearing noise we heard on the Internet was a low, consistent growl. Ours sounds significantly different and is only intermittent when the weight of the car is on the back left tire. Is there a certain type of shop where we can find someone who specializes in chassis? We are taking our car to a small family shop who has excellent reviews (hence why we are surprised and frustrated that they can’t pinpoint the problem).

Unable to hear it really well, is your exhaust on the same side as the noise? If so start there. A rubber mallet can help find sources, while parked o course :wink:

No the exhaust is on the passenger side, the sound is coming from the driver rear wheel. I’m sorry you can’t hear it very well! At higher speeds and going uphill, it makes a really high pitched metallic squeaking or squeal. At lower speeds going around a right corner, it squeals at first then makes a lower “VRRRRR” sound. It almost sounds like a machine turns on and off. When I turn the wheel slightly back to the left, the noise stops. The squeaking noise doesn’t stop until I stop going uphill.

Would I take off the wheel and start hitting around the rotor/brake area with the rubber mallet? (Fairly inexperienced with cars, sorry haha). My initial thought on the noise is that it sounds like something is being pressed on a moving part or that a moving part needs to be lubricated.

Thanks for your input!

Since the noise occurs on the left side of the car when turning right it’s likely caused by the extra force on that side of the car that develops when turning right. The whole car leans a little to the left and the left side goes down and the right side moves up during a right hand turn, right? So it most likely has to do with something about those movements or forces. This is a front wheel drive car right, not AWD, right? One quick experiment you can do is see if the noise goes away when you step on the brakes.

In any event I’m thinking the problem in order of likelihood is

  • Wheel bearing
  • Brakes
  • Suspension system

If I had this problem on my Corolla I’d jack up the left rear and spin the wheel by hand, listening carefully for any roughness, clicks, or other weird noises. It should spin silently and smoothly. Then I’d grab the wheel at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions and rock it, checking for play. Likewise at the noon and 6 o’clock. And I’d push and pull on the wheel, checking for axial play. If I wasn’t sure I’d do the same thing, but first remove the wheel and hand-turn/ maneuver the hub instead.

If that wasn’t it, I’d put the car back on the ground and push down on that corner listening for unusual sounds – there shouldn’t be any. Compare that corner with the other 4 corners too.

Still a no go? Then I’d remove the wheel and whatever parts required to do a visual check on the brakes on that wheel, looking for obvious problems or places where the clearance between the rotating part and the stationary part might create an interference if force was imposed by a right hand turn. Sometimes a brake backing plate will bend enough to cause this.

have you happened to figure out what the actual problem was? my 2012 honda civic si is making the exact same noise as the first video. i will appreciate any advice given!

Yes! It was the rear brake pads. We just had to replace them. I have no idea how our mechanic didn’t catch it the first time. We don’t go to this mechanic anymore. :joy:

thank you!