CV joint or Bearing?


I have a noise as I drive coming from the front right section of the car. No vibration and the car tracks fine. The noise reminds me of a bad wheel bearing or a tire problem. The faster you go the more noticable it gets. I rotated the tires and the noise did not move. The wheel in question spins fine, seems tight and there is no signs of over heating of the brake. The CV joint half shaft does seem a bit loose. But as I recall, a failing CV joints makes clicking sounds on corners. This does not happen. Everything else in that area seems tight and ok. Any comments or ideas?


Rack and Pinion steering and front wheel drive systems are great at masking issues through the steering wheel.

If the brake pads have plenty of meat left on them and the rotor isn’t scored and if the wheel spins nice and quiet, then I would lean towards the CV joint. It shouldn’t be loose at all.

Don’t discount also that the sound might very well be transmitting from the opposite side fooling your ears.


what kind of car? I had the same noise and it turned out the trans bearings were going bad. Honda (accord) replaced the trans and the noise went away. I tried to rotate tires, spare tire, etc. but the noise was at 30MPH and higher until high speeds when road noise overpowered the bearing noise. That’s what was wrong with my car. Not saying you have the same problem but just food for thought.


the Car is a 96 Mercury Sable with 70,000 miles. The noise started about 5k miles ago.

This is interesting and it brings up a few questions for me.

  1. How can I better troubleshoot this as the problem or rule it out

  2. You said you replaced the transmission VS. replacing only the bad bearing in the tranny. Was this more cost effective because of labor involved or was there another factor?

  3. How long did you drive the car with that noise? Did it fail catastrophically?

Thanks for your reply.


Did you check the condion of the transmision fluid to see if it was burnt or discolored? If the bearing has been going bad for 5k miles there may be metal contaminants in the fluid.

Just a thought.

Best of luck.


The Transmision fluid looks normal. It is a bit dark but it has 25k miles on it. There are no signs of metal particles.

I am open to peoples thoughts on how to better evaluate this situation.

If it is the CV axle I am leaning towards repairing that myself in my driveway.
If it is a bearing in the Tranny it has to go to the shop for repair.

Does anyone know how much that may cost to repair?


DON’T!!! listen to the advice you were given. This sounds like a wheel bearing. A failed CV joint is going to make a clicking noise when turning. If you do not hear a clicking noise on turns then it is not a CV joint. If it is a humming or whining noise it is most likely a wheel bearing.

Here is how to check. Drive straight ahead until you hear the noise. Try some right turns and left turns. If the noise gets louder when turning, it’s a wheel bearing.


I would be wary of non-registered posters. You have no idea of their background and experience.


Two failed CV joints for me caused more vibration on the first than the second but both occasionally vibrated at speed. The joint that vibrated more had more damage when inspected.


OK Thanks.

How can I easily tell if it is the Wheel bearing or a bearing on the differential output shaft in the transmision?

As one earlier post indicated something similar on their Accord and it ended up being the transmission.


I jacked up the front end of the car and found the outer cv joint is tight. The inner joint seems loose but it seems like the play is in the differential out put shaft. Considering the noise it sure seems like the bering in the transmission. Does anyone know how much this may cost to repair at a shop???Thanks


One way to differentiate a differential carrier bearing problem from a wheel bearing problem is to unload the transmission while rolling at a speed where the noise is most noticed. Lift the throttle pedal or shift the transmission to neutral. If the noise changes significantly, then the problem could be in the differential bearings although it is unlikely with your transmission design. If the noise remains, reengage the transmission and do a couple of lane changes (observe safety). If the noise gets worse making a lane change to the left it probably is the right wheel bearing. Diagnosing wheel bearings can be deceptive when the weight is off the tires and not spinning fast IMHO.

Let us know the outcome


I have had two CV joint failures so far and in both instances, the steering wheel vibrated occasionally. In only one instance, the CV joint made clicking noises when backing while turning. The damage to the CV joint that vibrated more often and worse when it did and also clicked was far worse than the other.

If the noise is from the right, then that seems more like a wheel bearing as the trans is on the driver side (left). You can try driving by a high curb on either side with the windows open to hear the reflected noise to try to confirm the source. You can do this with a bridge too.

During the early stage of failure, a bearing can be quiet with no load as when you turn the wheel with the car on a jack, yet become noisy with the car’s weight on the bearing.