Low Drone Sound in '05 Honda Civic, Above 35 mph

Hello -

My 2005 Honda Civic (Ex, manual tranny) has 33k miles on it and still seems to be going strong without any major issues.

But recently I’ve started hearing a different sound, kind of a low drone, but only when the car seems to be in the range of 35 - 55 mph. (It might also exist at higher speeds, but the road/wind noises certainly drown it out) It happens regardless of whether the clutch is engaged or not (so coasting it exists as well).

My hunch - and I have little experience in this area - is that it might be a bad bearing in one of the front wheels? It’s too hard to tell exactly where it comes from (being a low drone), but I think my passengers all agree it’s coming from the front of the car. Any merit to this?



Yes, a droning sound is usually the sign of a bearing going bad. This is one of those problems you want to have fixed ASAP. A bad wheel bearing that suddenly breaks can cause you to lose control. Please have it looked at.

It could also be “cupping” on the tire treads. Lightly brush your hand over the tire treads, one way then the other. If it feels rougher in one direction there’s cupping.

33K is pretty low to have a wheel bearing problem, but it is possible. If it is a wheel bearing there’s a good chance the sound will change when you turn.

To find out about the tires, you can swap front to back and see if it changes anything. I would try that first, and then have the wheel bearings checked if nothing changes. As noted, the bearings aren’t anything to mess with.

When the front wheel bearings went bad on my 2000 Blazer, I thought the droning noise was coming from the new tires at the time. If the bearings are bad, the pitch of the noise should change when the steering wheel is turned off-center (i.e. changing lanes).

Ed B.

I checked the tires and there doesn’t seem to be any cupping of any sort. Consistent with a bearing going bad, the sound very suddenly appeared - it’s not like it gradually “grew” on me (as I would think cupping would). At the same time, however, it’s definitely there without turning - I’ll need to explore it with turning (maybe I’ll wear a helmet for this one)! I can’t say I ever get the chance to go over 35 mph on a turn down here (Albuquerque) - upstate NY, well that was a different story.

Thanks so much for all of your help, I’ll keep you folks posted.

So I took it into a garage and they had a tech go for a ride with me. He listened a bit and told me that if it were a bearing that it would be much, much louder and be very easy to distinguish left/right (this is not). He did not even suggest it could be a CV joint, either, which kind of shocked me - considering I went in there telling them I suspected a bad bearing (and therefore was potentially signing myself up for significant cash!).

All he suggested was that they rotate the tires for me, and that they’d take a look while they were doing it (how, I’m not sure). He also suggested that the sound would likely move to the rear. I figured what the heck and threw down thirty bucks for them to do this. Unfortunately, the sound is neither gone nor in the back. It still sounds like it’s up in the front but is hard to distinguish its source.

I guess I’ll just have to keep listening to it to see if it gets worse. Growing up I was always taught that a sudden new, distinguishable sound was certainly a bad thing. I realize that it’s not super loud yet, but it’s a very different sound (and maybe I, as the owner, would only instantly pick it out as “odd-sounding”?).

Any thoughts on whether or not I should be concerned here or even go somewhere else for a second opinion?

I have had a similar sound during the past 40,000 miles (I am at 130,000 and it is a 2005 Honda Civic manual transmission). The sound only comes while the car is in gear. I changed the transmission fluid at 95,000 and again at 120,000, but the problem persisted. (Just in case, I put new tires at 116,000 miles.) Check this web site,


I think this is my problem. It might be yours as well.