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Tire sound getting louder I think...what might cause it

Over the past couple of trips in my car, which is a 2002 Kia Sedona Mini Van with 149.000 miles on it, it appears to me that the sound of my tires on my front appears to be louder then they have been since I had the car. Back in Feb I had to replace the driver side front wheel with a new tire, but the passanger side is the original tire from purchase of van and isn’t in bad condition from what I can see and from info I have gotten from the different times I have had the van into the dealership for some oil changes and such. It almost sounds like I can hear the tread on the payment which I don’t remember before. I am getting to shudder in the stearing at any point, or no problem breaking. I don’t hear anything when driving slow, but as I speed up it sure seams the noise of the front wheels gets louder then they have been in the past…Am I just losing it or should I be loking for something?

Some tires get significantly louder as the tread wears, some don’t. If the tread is worn 1/2 or more down compared to a new tire, it could be noisey. Rotate the front tires to the rear and see if the noise changes.

Also feel the tread of the tires, a “cupped” tire will get louder. If you feel anything like “waves” as you run your hand along the tread that could be a cupped tire.

Another possible is a wheel bearing going bad on you. At 150K miles worn wheel bearings are very possible.

If it is a bearing issue, how do I find out for sure? Also, if you say have to replace a front bearing, do you replace both fronts at the same time? How difficult/cost is it to replaced a wheel bearing?

You can replace front bearings separately. However if one is bad the other might not be too hot either since they both went the same number of miles.

If rotating the tires changes the noise substantially then the bearing is not the issue, it is a tire problem.

Front wheel bearing aren’t a big deal. Just make sure to get a good quality replacement. Figure about $100 to 150. The costs really can vary greatly from vehicle to vehicle so just ask your local mechanic.

Not sure rotating tires would help, I know for a fact my back side driver side tire is cupping, when I took van in first time to dealer he brought me out and while up on rack spun wheel and showed me and said I needed an alignment which I have got, I have not replaced that tire yet, on list of things to do. The $100-$150 does that include parts? I priced out at autozone a baring and it priced out at about $30 and I have a place that allows you to bring your own parts and they will do labor. Does it take very long to do or something that could be done in a morning? How can without rotation you tell if the barings are gone? Also started hearing this noice about a week ago, can I go another couple of weeks? Not sure if I can get in till weekend after next for check/replacment?

Was the cupped tire on the front when it developed the cupping? Cupping of tires can be alignment but more often a suspension problem, worn out shocks and struts.

Once a tire is cupped it pretty much stays cupped, and it noisy. I think you’ve got a few things going on here and no one can give you definitive answers on a forum such as this.

You rotate tires and if the sound moves it is the tires. If the sounds stays put then a bad wheel bearing is likely.

Get a good 4 wheel alignment, get 4 brand new tires, get all 4 shocks and/or struts replaced. Then you will be good to go. If you don’t want to spend that kind of money on a 149K car, understandable - but get used to the noise.

I think I would let the shop doing the work supply the bearings, if, in fact, new wheel bearings are needed. I think you should get to the bottom of why you have a cupped tire. The alignment shop will be able to tell you about the condition of the shocks/struts. I think you should have the same brand of tire with the same tread pattern and the same amount of wear on each axle. Even back in the days of rear wheel drive cars, I always replaced tires in pairs with the same brand and tread type on an axle.
Keep in mind that some brands are noisier than other brands. Years ago, I bought a pair of Atlas tires from a Standard service station where I traded. The station cut me a better price on a quality tire than I could find elsewhere. I had the new Atlas tires mounted on the rear of the 1965 Rambler that I owned at the time. The tires were quiet except on wet pavement where they were noisier than the tires they replaced. On the other hand, the traction seemed better with these Atlas tires. I gladly traded a little more noise for better traction.

If the wheel bearings are worn, there will be play in the wheels…Easy to check and detect…

Most tires DO tend to get noisier as they wear…The tread becomes less and less flexible, more rigid as the sipes wear away…The tread blocks start making noise as they hit the pavement…

There are wheel bearing stress tests a good mechanic will do, such as making severe maneuvers on the road and noting results, a stethoscope can also be very valuable in lieu of a road test. A good mechanic will hear the noise and fix the problem. I definitely think wheel bearing.

This definitely sounds like a wheel bearing issue. Something that sounds a lot like tire noise that gets progressively louder over time is usually a wheel bearing going bad. Eventually, it will sound like you are driving on rumble strips all the time, and you won’t even be able to drown it out with the radio.

If you plan on getting your own parts, do not cheap out on the wheel bearings. They are fairly labor intensive to do on this van, meaning more money out of your pocket to change them out a second time if a cheap part fails. I have bought cheap wheel bearings before, installed them in my vehicles, and ended up getting better stuff after they got worse than what I changed out 5,000 miles ago. This is fine if you love replacing wheel bearings, do it yourself, and have a hydraulic press and a cutting torch at your disposal (which are necessary to replace the wheel bearings on your van), but I personally do not fall into this category. Timken and National are the only brands I trust anymore. They cost more, but they last as long as, or longer than, the original equipment.

Caddyman: wheel bearings can go bad and need replaced without leaving evidence of looseness if they dry out and become galled, which will cause them to make a heck of a lot of noise while driving, but will not always cause a wheel to become noticeably loose. On the other hand, some bearings will become loose or even downright floppy without ever making any noise. The former seems to be the more common failure mode for these sealed, non-tapered roller bearings.

First, check for partially open windows.

The cupped tire is on the back driver side, I think it became cupped because the van was out of alignment which I had done at the dealership.

The noise is coming from the front passanger side wheel and it is very noticable when driving at 40 MPH I swerve to the left and still noticeable but not as much if I swerve to the right. Coming into work this morning I have the perfect road to do this on and when I swerved to the left the noise from the passanger side front wheel was very noticalbe and as I slowed it got softer and as I excellerated it got louder.

I am looking at taking it in either this weekend if the place I want to have the work done can take it if not it will go in the following weekend. My question is I need to get back and forth to work until then, what can I do to limit the damage so to speak or reduce the chances of real damage. I can drive in via the interstate with little swerving and turns but traveling at 55+ or I can take back roads with have turns and such but won’t get much over 40 MPH.

I’m going to point out something that the others seem to have missed -

From your description, you say you have a new tire on the driver’s side and an original tire from the “purchase” of the vehicle on the passenger’s side? I can’t imagine that it would be original from the date the vehicle was built - a tire with 149,000 miles and 10 years on it would be incredible. But still, your description makes me believe that you have two mismatched tires on the front axle, and the age difference may be substantial. Doesn’t sound like a good plan to me…

The tire on the passanger side is in pretty good condition. I believe that the used car lot I purchased the van from back in Aug of 2010 put 4 tires on teh van when they got it as all 4 were different makes. 3 of the 4 were in good condition and the 4th was okay and since has been replaced. I have put about 15000 miles on the van since I got it and had no driving issues. Had it alligned in Feb of 11 at the Kia dealership. The nosie I hear now is coming from the front passenger wheel area. I plan on replacing the other 3 tires down the road.

@bertrand–I find it strange that all 4 tires were of different makes. Usually a person replaces 2 tires or 4 tires at a time. When i used to buy used cars, I would check to see if the tires matched. If one tire was a different brand, I would assume that one tire might have had to have been replaced due to a road hazzard or a puncture near the sidewall that couldn’t be repaired. Two matching tires on one axle and two matching tires on the other also made sense. However, a different make on each wheel always made me suspicious.

I am betting that the tires on the van may have been either really good and the used car lot which also did work on cars and sold used tires removed them to resell and just found 4 that fit, or they were all so bad to help with selling the van they replaced all 4 with whatever the best tires they had. But all four were right size and all but all different makes. Not something I really worried about, all had good tread from what I could see and needed a car and the price/payments worked for me an it ran real well and still does.