Dragging metal sound with no visible cause

My 2007 Toyota Prius occasionally sounds like there is metal dragging somewhere in the front of the car. It usually only happens at low speeds after I have been driving on a highway. If I get out of the car to check. I can’t see anything dragging under the car. The sound usually goes away if I continue to drive or (if I’ve reached my destination) if I let drive the car again later. Any ideas what this noise might be? The car has 172,000 miles on it, and it has had the wheel bearings changed multiple times in the past few years…I don’t know if that has anything to do with the noise.

I would check the heat shields to see if any are loose. Why are you going through so many wheel bearings?

Thanks for the advice, EK Hammer. I’ve been told it’s normal for a Prius to go through wheel bearings when it gets up there in mileage.

You got bogus advice

When a wheel bearing is properly replaced, it should not need replacement again for a long time

I tend to agree with a heat shield issue.
Regarding the multiple wheel bearing replacements it could be this does not mean all of the bearings were replaced multiple times.
It could be that it was a matter of left front bearing, right rear bearing, right front…, etc at different times and the impression is then left that the same bearing was replaced over and over again.

If the same bearing is failing repeatedly after a short use then someone may not be doing an install correctly.

@amymarie1223‌ Tell us your wheel bearing situation. What’s been replaced and how often.

Well, let’s see…hopefully I remember the order correctly here. If not, it’s close enough.

the first wheel bearing (the left front) was replaced around 2 years ago by my then-husband (who is very mechanically inclined, though not a mechanic, and maintained all of our vehicles). About a year later, (~Summer of 2013) the right front went. Without the hubby to change it, I brought it to a Toyota dealer. Then, this past winter, the left one went bad and my local mechanic replaced it (a heck of a lot cheaper than the dealer!). Just last week, I had the right one (the one the dealer did) replaced again. Needless to say, I’m keeping my fingers crossed whenever I start my car! I need them to last through the end of this year, when I can replace the car.

That is way too soon for wheel bearings to go. I think that there is another problem that is causing this…like alignment.


Are the roads in your area very rough?

When you enter a driveway, or go over a dip, are you going pretty fast?

I also think we might be missing some detail

@db4690 - no, the roads are pretty good around here. One of the benefits of high taxes in New York State is they maintain the roads. One of the roads I drove on over the winter was a bit rough until they were able to fill in the potholes, but I only remember a couple of times when I really jarred the car by a sneaky pothole hidden by snow. I tend to drive pretty carefully - so I’m not flying into driveways or anything.

There was some other work done on the car in the past year. I found some of my paperwork to give you more detail:

August of 2013 - my mechanic did a ceramic front brake job, front brake rotor, water pump, front motor mount replacement

Sept of 2013 was when the rt front wheel bearing was replaced by the dealer.

I’m going to get a print out of all the work done by my mechanic. I’ll post that information when I get it.

The car now is very loud - no specific noise, just everything seems to be amplified, especially when I get up to 40/50 mph and above. It’s gotten so I can’t even drown it out with the radio anymore, which has been my answer to unwanted car noises in the past. :-/

A random scraping metal noise is sometimes a brake dust shield that has been slightly bent and is scraping against the brake rotor. The fix is simply to pry the dust shields back away from the rotors.

perhaps your brake caliper is dragging, the wheel bearing going bad seems o be a symptom of another problem, as suggested above

Noise getting louder…does sound like a wheel bearing. I’d get to a shop ASAP to have it checked out. One smack in a pothole can start a bearing on its way to failure.

Car is at the shop now. On my way home today my car added another noise to the party…a screechy, scraping high pitched noise. Sounded like a demon took possession of my engine. We’ll see what the dealer says…

good luck, I m glad it is being checked out

You took it to the Toyota Dealership? Why not the mechanic that worked on your wheel bearing and brakes? I’m still banking on the metallic sound being a heat shield on the exhaust. The screeching noise isn’t coming from the front right or front left is it? (Yet another wheel bearing) if so, something is causing all of your wheel bearing whoas.

It could be that the wheel bearing problems are related to driving in winter slush, road salt, deep rainwater runoff, and so on.

That can also affect suspension and steering components over time.

@"EK Hammer"‌ - it was a matter of convenience. I was on my way betwen work and school, and the dealership is along that route.the screeching noise is coming from the front, it seems to be on the driver’s side…which is the wheel bearing that was just replaced a couple weeks ago. I will postwhen the dealer calls me with the (bad) news.

Not sure if this audio file will work…but I recorded the sound in the car. the first minute or so is me getting back on the road…please excuse the annoying prius backup beeping. you’ll hear the squeak and rattle type sound along with the louder-than-normal engine as I drive.

UPDATE: The dealer took a look at it, and it is the left front wheel bearing, which was just replaced by the mechanic (after market) 2 weeks ago. They said the part was a bad part. They said they have never seen a wheel bearing that bad be driven into to shop… and they strongly advise against me driving it the 30+ miles to the mechanic to get the part replaced under warranty. So it looks like my choices are to replace the part at double the cost, and bring the bad part to the mechanic for a refund (so I’ll at least get 1/2 the cost of the dealer bearing back) OR cut my losses and not put any more money into this car (I’m close to the $4,000 mark over the last 2 years). My fear about replacing the bearing is that the right front is also after-market… so there is no telling how long that will last… and if the car keeps going through bearings like that, I’ll be spending more on wheel bearings than I would on a new car payment!!! Argh!