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Tire noise or wheel bearing noise

I have a 2004 Chevy Venture van, the front tires wore out on the inside, badly. DH adjusted the toe (made the rod shorter, so made it more toe-out?). We got new tires, after 1000 miles, they were again wearing on the inside. I convinced him to get a front end alignment. After the alignment, there is a lot of road noise, goes away when you go around a right turn. Could it just be the tires wearing differently, or is it a wheel bearing, and could that have been affected by the alignment? We have driven 150 miles since the alignment and it still is noisy.

If the noise goes away on a right turn it is likely the RF wheel bearing.

If the inside of the tire was wearing out why on earth would you ADD toe out.

“after 1000 miles, they were again wearing on the inside.”

Once abnormal wear patterns appear on a tire’s tread, there is always the possibility of winding up with excess noise from the tires. However, the fact that the noise disappears when making a right turn does make me suspect that there is a bad wheel bearing involved.

Whenever there is any possibility of a problem with brakes or wheel bearings, it is wise to have the problem checked by a mechanic sooner, rather than later. If the bearings turn out to be okay, you just may have to live with a lot of tire noise until the tires are ready for replacement, because once those abnormal wear patterns appear, you can’t “cure” them.

Try rotating the tires and see if the sound changes. DH = dopy husband?

dear husband. We had VW’s (rabbit and golf) for many years, until 2006, and did all our own repair work, including wheel alignment. We were running used tires that did not cost us much, so trial and error worked OK. Not so good when you pay $55 for a new tire. He thought he still knew how to adjust the toe-in, but he is much older now and out of practice.

Properly aligning a vehicle with poorly worn tires can and often does cause excess road noise and even handling anomalies. My money is on this being the cause.

By the way, since your suspension seem to have sagged to what sounds like excess negative camber, you really should get the suspension thoroughly checked out. You could have worn out components that need to be replaced. Have the chassis shop do this checkup before doing any alignment.

update - we left the house the other morning when it was cold outside and there was no noise. Later in the day, when it was warmer, the noise came back. Also, we jacked up the right front wheel, there was no play in it.

Rotate the tires and see if the noise goes away. Temp affects tires more than other components.

What type of noise is it? Sizzle? growl? rumble? buzz? Bearings usually make a growling noise, low pitch, rises with speed. Tires can make all types of sounds and bad alignment can screw up a tire so that it is noisy when fixed. That usually goes away with time. Bearings usually get worse with time.

A bad wheel bearing can usually be detected by jacking the tire off the ground and checking for play…Also, if the noise occurs at very low speeds, 10-30mph, it’s most certainly tires. Some tires, especially $55 ones, can be pretty noisy…And yes, rotate them to put the best two on the front axle…Does that make any difference?


“there is a lot of road noise, goes away when you go around a right turn.”

Actually, to me it sounds like the left front wheel bearing is the problem

If a shop confirms that the wheel bearing is bad, I recommend replacing both sides, because the other side might not be far behind. It’s been subjected to the same conditions

I also recommend checking out your front suspension and steering linkages. You might have some worn components by now. And it definitely sounds like you want to get an alignment at this point

By the way, not all bad wheel bearings will have excessive play. In fact, many bad wheel bearings don’t have excessive play, but feel rough when rotating the tire

That’s my take

I thought I knew what a bad wheel bearing sounds like, but apparently, they can make different sounds. The wheel bearing that failed in my Saturn did not make any noise below 50 mph and above 50 mph, it sounded like a propeller on a turbo prop. The sound did not go away on a turn, but it did diminish, and got louder when turning the other direction.

In all the wheel bearing failures I’ve had with ball bearing type wheel bearings, there was no play at all, at least not that you would detect without a dial indicator. My eyes are not calibrated for measurements in the thousands of an inch.