Cracked Wheel Bearing on NEW Elantra?

I have a 2013 Elantra, new in January, 6600 miles on it, and I took it in to the dealership today because it was making funny noises this week from the left front wheel; the noise gets faster as I drive faster. The left front tire has a bubble in it, and they’re telling me the wheel is bent and the bearing is cracked, so they’ll need to replace the tire, wheel, hub, bearing and do something with the alignment AND it’s not covered under warranty because it is “impact damage.” Is this even possible on a new car like this? For the bearing to be cracked without a big accident? I don’t remember hitting a pot hole or running over a curb. Shouldn’t this be covered under normal use? I’m concerned that I’m being ripped off. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

The rim can’t be damaged without hitting something. I see three possibilities. One is that you or someone else that drives this car hit a pothole or curb hard enough to damage the rim. Another is that someone drove the car before you bought it, damaged the car, and you are just now seeing the effect of the accident. Last is that they are lying to you. The last one can be eliminated by asking them to show you the damage to the rim. If they can show you that the rim is damaged, then you can eliminate the third possibility from the list. You are stuck on the other two.

Does anyone else drive this car besides you? Is it an aluminum rim, or steel? Everything they describe does sound like impact damage to me.

A couple of years ago, I hit a monster pothole at night that bent the aluminum rim and destroyed the tire on my Buick Regal. A couple of month later, you guessed it, my son and I end up replacing that corner’s wheel bearing.

It’s not possible to make a car indestructible. Even brand new cars can get dented rims/damaged tires/cracked wheel bearings from hitting an obstruction like pothole just a single time, as easily as older cars. And they are right, this kind of damage is not usually covered under warranty. It’s not possible to tell over the internet of course, but I doubt you are being ripped off. to minimize the repair fee, maybe get a bid from a local inde shop. While it will probably cost youa pretty penny for a new tire and rim and wheel bearing, this shouldn’t prove technically difficult to fix and a good inde shop should be able to handle it.

If there is impact damage then warranty will not and should not pay for any repairs. A bubble could be caused by a pothole or curbstrike and if the damage is that bad then it’s quite possible that other damage may exist as relates to the control arm and whatnot.

If the rim is nicked up or the tire sidewall scuffed then the car hit something.

Honest question - is it possible to bend a rim with a curb/pothole strike without causing immediately obvious damage to the tire?

I’ve done it w/my Corolla, a slight dent in the rim, still functional, but the tire is ok.

Yes, it is. The damage may be small and internal at first, but with use, will grow and finally become visually obvious.

My wife has managed to damage tires and alignment hitting stuff and not realizing she did it. I asked her specifically and she did not recall. But I had driven the car twice in the span of 24 hours and was fine before and then not fine after. So, it is possible to do it and not notice it.

Some of us are more “car attentive” than others. The two extremes are in our household. I would hear a squeak well before my wife could notice it.

You car could have had the damage during shipping/delivery, but now it is difficult to prove it. You can try and get your insurance involved.

Pretty hard to argue with a bulge in the the tire, a bent wheel, and bearing issue at the same time, provided you verify the damage. I know I cracked the race on a CV joint once with a hard brake on a tight turn. I felt something at the time but didn’t develop into a problem for several months after that.

Bubble or bulge? If the bearing is damaged, you can hear the bearing noise with the car on the lift and rotating the tire, but you need to be experienced in separating the normal noise from a fail bearing noise. I have never heard of a bearing getting damaged from an impact tough, at least not an impact where the car was still drivable.

If the rim is damaged from a pot hole, it should be visible. If it is from striking a curb at an angle, then the rim will be knocked “off axis”. This is not visible unless the vehicle is on a lift and you rotate the tire. You will see the wheel wobble. It can cause a vibration sometimes even if the wobble is not visible, but it can still be checked using a dial indicator mounted to the fender.

If the tire has a bulge and there is no rim damage, that could be from a pot hole strike or it could be from a defect in the manufacturing. If the tire has a bubble, that is almost always from a manufacturing defect. If it is in the tread area, it can be the source of all your noise.

A few years back, my wife was unable to avoid some road debris and the impact dented the rim on her minivan. I used a hammer to take the dent out of the steel rim. I would not have attempted this with an aluminum rim.

About a week later the tire developed a bubble in the sidewall and had to be replaced. I examined the tire afterwards inside and out and there was no visible damage except for the bubble.

The tire has to be replaced regardless, but I suggest a second opinion from an independent mechanic. Since it’s impact damage, you may be covered under collision.


Thanks guys! I was just concerned since I’m the only one who drives it and didn’t remember doing any significant damage that I would think could account for it. Ended up taking it to a local shop, who did have to replace the tire and bearing, but the wheel and hub were fine, so it cost a lot less than the dealership was going to charge.

I find it very interesting that the tire has a bubble, the wheel is bent, and the bearing is cracked and our OP doesn’t remember any impact.

Forgive me, but perhaps . . .

It happened on a Monday morning

The coffee machine was busted

He didn’t get enough sleep

And he was late for work

@db4690 It happens; some are more observant than others. Last month around here a woman gave birth to a 7 lb baby in a Walmart washroom; SHE SAID SHE DID NOT KNOW SHE WAS PREGNANT!!

There should not be any celebrating yet that you got off cheaper. There’s the lingering question of whether the shop that did this work also did an alignment or even considered the possibility of the alignment being out of whack.
If the tire tread is feather edging or scrubbing off badly in 6 months time then it could be safely assumed that the shop did not cover all of the bases.