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Car Back Tire Thumping Noise

I have a 2004 highlander thats started to make a thumping noise that sounds like its coming from the back tire whenever the car is in motion. It doesnt seem to get worse when I turn a corner but its very rhythmic, sounds like one thump per rotation, I live in maryland and it gets very humid here so i thought maybe another post that said “Check the front brake rotors for a rusty spot exactly the size of a brake pad. Are you feeling it through the brake pedal when lightly applying the brake? You don’t say, but if the car was parked for a while in moist conditions, the pad may have rusted to the rotor and the spot may be thumping on every rotation.” Could be it but how would i check that? And if thats the case then how would i fix it or would i just go to get it fixed? (I dont drive the car very often, usually once a month or so, it originally belonged to a family member thats no longer with us)

I’d rotate the tires first and take a good look at the brakes while it is being done. If the noise follows the tire, that’s your problem. If it stays at the rear, a closer brake inspection is needed.


Thumping noise in back tire indicates buy new tire, or two or four depending on the vehicle. Likely you’ve got a bulge or tread separation. What the other guy was talking about was a brake rotor problem where you would get a pulsation when you put the brakes on. That’s different. Yeah I had a little thumping and when I checked the tire the steel was exposed after 110,000 miles, so tires do go bad or wear out.

Thank you both for the quick replies, would i be able to wait to replace a tire or should i do that right away? As i said i dont drive the car much so is it something that can damage my car over time even if i dont drive it often? Or should i replace as soon as possible? Wondering to see if i can give it a month and put some money to the side as the car has some other problems i have identified that i need to have fixed.

Without actually seeing the tire no one can answer that . If it is the tire then it stands to reason that the others may need replacing as well . Have you looked to see if there is a bulge or a place on the tire that does not look right.

Bad tires damage people more than cars.


My sons wife (girlfriend at the time) had a thumping sound coming from the ‘right rear side’. She had just driven from WI to PA. I was going to rotate the tires to see if the sound moves. When I went to the back tire to loosen the lug nuts, I saw a bulge, did not have to look close, it was the size of my fist. My wife and I would not let her drive it to the corner store after we saw that. It was an older Civic, FWD, so we got a pair of new tires for her in the back, fronts were OK. We then made sure the tires were rotated on a regular basis.

Thank you for all of the replies, I went out and checked and found the bump, sorry if any of my replies seemed like stupid question, i am not much of a car guy and i just wanted to make sure on anything before i made a decision.