A few months ago my car started whining at highway speeds. The noise has increased in pitch and volume, and is not dependent on engine speed–in fact, if I turn the engine off and coast, the whine persists, lowering in pitch (and getting quieter) when the car slows down. Recently the car has also started vibrating when I turn slightly to the right, as when I change lanes on the highway or bank right on a long turn (sharp right turns from a full stop don’t elicit any noise). Do I have a problem with my alignment? I notice my tire wear looks a bit uneven.
Have a mechanic check your front wheel bearings right away, as it sounds (no pun intended) like you have a wheel bearing that is about to seize-up. If that happens at highway speed, it will have the same effect as the brakes on one wheel suddenly locking up–i.e.–it can cause you to lose control of the vehicle and have an accident.
It is also possible that you have a bad CV joint.
It is even possible that some front-end components (ball joints, tie rod ends) are dangerously worn-out, and this is another significant safety hazard.
If I were you, tomorrow I would drive–very slowly and carefully–to a trusted independent mechanic (NOT to a chain operation like Midas, Meineke, Monro, Sears, Pep Boys, AAMCO, etc) for a thorough check of the car’s front end, wheel bearings, and CV joints.
Excellent advice as always, except that I’d have it towed. I’m low on courage.
In retrospect, I think that mountainbike is correct.
Unless the OP wants to risk an accident, it is probably best to have this vehicle towed to the mechanic’s shop.
In any event, this vehicle needs to be repaired immediately.
If immediate repair is not financially feasible, then it needs to be parked until funds are available for repairs.
Thanks. I’ve had a CV joint replaced before. What kind of costs (ballpark) am I looking at to get the front wheel bearings fixed if that’s the problem?