Rattle in right front area of car when driving at highway speed?

I have a 2009 Pontiac Vibe GT with about 255,000 miles. Over the last several months I’ve noticed a rattling noise coming from the right front quadrant of the car when driving at highway speeds (60 MPH and up). I also notice that it seems to diminish and/or go away entirely when I drive in the rain.

I took it to the dealer and they said I need a new right front wheel bearing/hub.

I just wanted to get some confirmation from folks more knowledgeable than me - do these sound like they are related? From what I can find online, it seems that it is likely the rattle I hear is in fact that bearing. I guess I just want some peace of mind as I plunk down $400 for the repair! Trying to keep this car on the road as long as possible! Thanks!

Take it to an independent shop for a second opinion. You do not need to be going to a dealer for a car this old … you will save money at the independent.

This is a great point. Unfortunately I’ve already gone ahead and had them order the part, and just dropped the thing off to them. I think they preyed on my fear, because I know that a bad bearing is no good, and I commute to work 60 miles each way. The dealer is at my place of work, so I didn’t want to drive the car 60 miles at 70 MPH with the fear of a bearing failing on me. I will make sure in the future to get a second opinion.

If you find that the bearing/hub replacement didn’t remedy the situation, then I would suggest that you have an independent shop specializing in front-end repairs check the car. There is the possibility that the noise could be coming from a badly-worn ball joint–which is a major safety hazard. Or, it could simply be an indication of worn bushings–which are not a major problem.

Or–hopefully–the bearing/hub replacement will take care of the problem.
Please let us know the outcome!

Thanks - I definitely will. Hoping it solves my problem (for now)!

“Rattling” isn’t usually the description we hear here when the problem is a bad wheel bearing. More often the description is a growling noise, which gets louder the faster you go. Sort of like it sounds when you drive over a pavement surface that is roughened, like you’ve probably noticed just before the road repair crew renews the finish coat they roughen the road surface up so the new stuff sticks. Sounds like driving over that kind of a purposely roughened road surface.

The other description we often hear for bad wheel bearings is a sort of fffft ffft ffft sound, heard more clearly at slower speeds, and often considerably worse when turning in one direction or the other.

Do you notice anything that could described like the above sounds?

Note that it is entirely possible for a bad bearing to produce a rattling sound rather than a growling sound. It just depends on what exactly it is that isn’t working inside the bearing is all. Wheel bearing diagnosis for experienced mechanics is usually pretty straightforward. They do it all the time. I expect your shop has correctly diagnosed the problem and you’ll be back on the road again sans rattling, shortly.


Well, to update, I had the bearing and hub replaced. The rattling noise I’ve previously described is still there.

When I researched bad bearings and the sounds they might make, it didn’t quite match with the noise I’ve been hearing. This noise only seems to occur at highway speeds, and it’s a slight thin rattling sound that seems to come from the right front quadrant of the car. It never changes pitch, speed, or anything like that. It’s either there or not. My initial thought was that it was some interior rattle (like a door panel, something in the glove box, etc.), but the news from the shop that I needed a right front bearing made me think that’s what it was - but it clearly wasn’t the cause.

The odd thing is that (and maybe it’s just my ears) it seems to diminish or even go away when I drive in rain, but it could be the sound of rain drowning out the rattle. Any ideas?

Bushings will tend to swell somewhat when they get wet, so it is entirely possible that the noise is from worn bushings. When they swell-up, the noise can diminish.

This noise only seems to occur at highway speeds, and it's a slight thin rattling sound that seems to come from the right front quadrant of the car.

Maybe caused by wind. Get under there and hit everything you can see with your fist.

Some ideas. A pebble rattling around, trapped in the wheel or brakes. The plastic under-engine windscreen or a plastic wheel-well protector has come loose. Brakes missing required parts, like shims, and rattling. That gadget that holds your hood up when you pop the hood to inspect the oil level, that may be loose and rattling. Alternators and water pumps can make a rattling sound as they begin to reach their wear limits.

I’m wondering if you are hearing an exhaust heat shield that is loose. Driving in the rain…the rain adds some weight to the shield and it quiets down.


This is what you would be looking for. Get under it and shake and hit the exhaust at many places and you may find the problem. Heat shields are pretty cheap and easy to replace.

I recently had a car with a rattle that no one else could find. It was the baffle in the resonator had broken free and would rattle around inside.


Thanks guys! I appreciate the tips. My gut feeling was that it wasn’t a mechanical rattle (meaning some drivetrain/suspension part of the car), but rather something like a heat shield or something loose in the cabin. If the rain moves through by Sunday, I’ll spend some time investigating!

Hi did you figure out what it was, because I’m kind of having the same issue.

What brand and model car, and how many miles on the odometer? In the future, you might get better response if you create a new thread. There is a grey button (+ New Topic) in the top right corner of the home page that takes you to the page where you create a new post. Hopefully, more people will respond here, though.

It could be a fender or plastic cladding coming loose. I had a rattle noise at highway speeds in the back of my 06 RAV4. It always stopped when I slowed down. One day my brother was following me to a game when he said the right side of my rear bumper panel is loose because it waves in the wind like a loose sail. I ended up taking some zip ties to help secure the panel and shooting some spray foam behind the panel to stiffen it up. My next highway drive was nice and quiet.

Just walk around your Vibe and see if anything is loose or any plastic that might thin and could vibrate in the wind at highway speeds.

I realize this post is 3 yrs old but i have the same exact rattle…right front of the car in the corner where the wind shield meets the dash board. i checked everything…at 65 mph + gets worse. it’s really frustrating. it’s definitely not a loose bearing or anything flapping on the outside of the car…I greatly appreciate if someone else found a remedy if they could please share before I start punching my dashboard like a maniac

I recently had a wheel bearing replaced in my 2005 Buick Century. The noise it produced can be described as a loud motorboat sound that got louder with more speed.

Did you guys figure it out regarding your own situations? I’m having the same issue and don’t know what it is…

I would suggest that you open your own thread from the main page using the New Topic button so you’re only receiving advice applicable to your situation. Please make sure you include your cars year, model, mileage, any pertaining information to what is going on as well as anything you may have tried to remedy the situation :slight_smile:

I had a rattle in the front end of my 2000 Blazer. It took a while to find the cause but it was the hood hinges. The hinge bolt was a loose fit in the hole, a cone washer on each hinge took care of the rattle. I diagnosed the rattle by wedging cardboard between the hood and the fender. Also if you have a roof rack make sure the horizontal rail clamps are tight.

Ed B.