Humming noise - only in right hand curves

Hello, everyone.

My 2002 Ford Focus has developed a speed related noise which starts at about 30 mph.

The noise starts as a low hum and rises in pitch as the speed increases. The noise only occurs when the steering wheel is turned to the right. It happens when going around a gradual curve or just a slight course correction (very small steering wheel motion).

The noise does not change if the manual transmission is in neutral or if the brakes are applied.

I jacked up the front end and checked for front end play, by grabbing the tire at the 9:00 and 3:00 position. No motion.

I also did the same test at 6:00 and 12:00.

Also no motion. I think that eliminates wheel bearings and tie rods (not 100% sure).

With the car on jack stands, I started the engine and put it in gear. Turning the wheel with the wheels rotating did not produce the noise. I ran it up through 3rd gear and did not get a noise. I decided not to press my luck as I didn’t want it to drop off the jack stands and smash into the garage wall.

So now I’m out of ideas. I think CV joints make a clunking noise - not a hum.

Any suggestions would be very much appreciated. Thanks for listening.


Your wheel bearings can be making noise and still have no play when you grab the wheel. I would bet that it is in fact a wheel bearing issue.

You can count this as another vote for a bad front wheel bearing, most likely the left one.

Thanks. I replaced the right front wheel bearing last year.
It had lots of play.

Any other way to test for a wheel bearing problem?

Why the left? You are very perceptive. I replaced the right one last year.

Any other way to test the wheel bearing?

Hold onto the spring while you rotate the wheel - sometimes you can feel vibrations through the spring.

I recently had a wheel bearing issue that, other than the noise, I couldn’t detect to save my life - including by feeling for it thru the spring. I finally went ahead and replaced it just b/c the noise was so much like a wheel bearing - that did turn out to be it.

“Why the left? You are very perceptive” - you said it was when turning right - it pretty much always always goes that way - right turn sends weight to the left side.

While it’s likely a wheel bearing, a tire with uneven treadwear can do the same thing.

A wheel off the ground test is not always valid either. A bearing may be perfectly tight and may be defective anyway.
Sometimes weight on the bearing may be required for the symptom to appear and with the wheel raised it may appear to be fine even though it’s not.

Thank you all for your responses. I just took the car for another test drive and while leaning over to the center of the car, I could hear that you guys were right. The noise is coming from the left side. It sounds like a lots of agreement - this is a wheel bearing problem.
So, I am getting ready to order a Timken Hub & Bearing Assy from the “Auto Parts Warehouse” website. Last year I only bought the wheel bearing, and had lots of fun trying to press the old bearing out of the hub. It was downright ugly. I destroyed the bearing but still could not get the outer race out of the hub. I ended up spending more $$$$ finding a shop to press the outer bearing race out and the new bearing pressed into the hub. So, if I can contribute any advice to others considering DYI wheel bearing replacement - buy the whole hub assy. It is less aggravation & cheaper.
Thanks again. I’ll let you know if the noise goes away.


Thank you, Thank you, Thank you:

Good news:
Replaced the left wheel bearing and the noise went away.

Bad news:
In the process, I found the left front coil spring was broken.

Good news:
I found a Tech Service Bulletin on for my make & year. Ford knew about the front coil spring corrosion/breaking problem.
Dealer replaced both front springs (both broken). Also replaced tire & ABS Sensor (which I broke getting the dang thing out).

So life is good…

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.