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Tire noise?

Is it possible that old/worn out tires can cause a subtle but annoying whining/humming noise starting around 75MPH ? They are due to be rotated and if you stick a penny in the tread, you can see Abe’s head exposed. That means they are worn out, right ?

The car doesn’t pull to the right or left any so i’d like to rule out mis-alignment causing fouled wear, and i’d also like to rule out bearing noise because the sound doesn’t amplify if you swerve to the right or left.

Its a 99 Accord with 124k. I just started noticing this sound last week.


Since you are referring to the tires as 'Old and worn," the whining noise could be a steel belt beginning to come apart. Check the inside sidewalls of the front tires. When you purchase new tires, let the shop look at the wear pattern and help you judge the need for an alignment. At 124k, anything is possible.

Many tires make more noise as they wear. And some types of tires are nosier than others to begin with… “Rib” or “chevron” tread designs tend to be quieter than “block” tread patterns.

I had the penny in the wrong way earlier (right side up). If you stick abe in upside down, probably 40% of his head would be covered so they don’t necessarily need to be replaced yet.


Many tires make more noise as they wear. To seperate the “men from the boys” basically cheaper branded tires are infamous for this. They start nice and quiet for 10k-20k and then maybe they will last a real long time but get so noisy. Some people ignore other like me get rid of them. I dumped barely worn Sumitomo’s and Falken(consumer reports fav) at 20k miles as I could not stand it. I am done with el cheapo tires.

Other quality tires build a tread compound/design that remains quiet through its entire life and it really works. Bridgestone and Michelin have these designs.

Penny test means legally worn out. My experience with winter conditions for winter tires or all-seasons is 5/32" or less the winter traction is approaching nill. Less than 4/32" rain traction is typically poor. 2/32" is legal.

The “penny test” is now considered to be inadequate in terms of measuring tread depth, and now many auto gurus are recommending that a quarter coin be used instead. (No, this has nothing to do with inflation) If any portion of George’s head is showing when the coin is inserted so that George is upside down, then the tires are due for replacement.

As has already been pointed out, most tires will become more noisy as the tread wears, but this noise could also result from a bad belt in a tire. Driving on worn tires is potentially dangerous. Driving on tires with a bad belt is VERY dangerous.

All of this leads to another question:

If you have any doubts about the safety of your tires, should you be driving at 75 mph?

The tires are safe it’s just an annoying sound. Thanks for your concern though.

Would Kumho’s be considered “el cheapo” tires ?

I’ve had a lot of noise since the day my front tires were replaced with Kumho tires. Yes, they were very inexpensive, but I’m going back to my mechanic who put the tires on for state inspection. We have a difficult time hearing each other talk in the car if on the highway. I would rather pay a few extra bucks to get rid of the noise.

my recommendation,
ditch the coin, every DOT approved tire has a tread wear bar, It’s at 2/32’s, That’s where it’s worn out, If the tread is low enough you can easily see the tread wear indicator. when looking at the tread, in the grooves, you should be able to see a raised rubber bar that extends across the width of the tire in several places around the tire.
since you stated that their is plenty of tread, make sure it’s the tire causing the problem before replcement, take it to a reputable shop, ask to have the vehicle raised off of the ground and run it up to around 75 mph, tires can’t make a noise when their not on the ground, if you get a noise, it’s likely a bearing, you could have the tires rotated to see if the noise starts coming from the other end. if the tire is the problem, they may still be perfectly safe, simple irregular wear patterns, can cause a humming nois. If you decide to replace tires, have the alignment checked and do so at least once a year if not twice, rotate every 5000 miles, have the air checked every month. for my money, it will always be a Toyo tire.

You may want to double check the air pressure and use your hand to see if you can feel a wave pattern on the inside or outside edge of the tyre.

Kumho’s are inexpensive tires…but they are a decent tire.

I agree, each tire needs to be checked by eye and by hand for uneven wear. It could just be noisy tires, or it could be uneven wear caused by bad balance, worn shocks/struts (have they ever been replaced?), or bad alignment (may not be enough to cause swerving, may be in the rear, tire inspection should help tell).

My tires begin to rumble when they get near the wear bars. They’re there now, as a matter of fact. I’m due.

It’s common. How much of a difference it makes in a vehicle depends simply on how well “road noise” is isolated from the cabin.