Wheel Alignment and High Road Noise?

Hello, I just returned from a long north to south trip and experienced heavy road noise when the steering wheel was turned slightly to the right. The noise went away when I turned the steering wheel slightly to the left. I experienced this at both low speed (30 - 40mph) and high speed (60 - 70mph+). The vehicle is a 2004 all wheel drive Ford Explorer with 145K miles and I’ve owned this vehicle since new. Most of the miles are highway miles. And since I just got back from my trip I have yet to contact the dealer but wanted to get your opinion first. Could this be a wheel alignment issue? BTW, the tires have only 10K miles on them. Thank you in Advance.

…and the noise sound like (wobble (worble, actually), whir, groan, etc) and was it accompanied by vibration?

Hello, no vibration. I would describe the sound as a lifted 4x4 with big tires.

I think you may have a wheel bearing problem in one of the front wheels.

I haven’t heard of a wheel alignment have any significant impact on road noise. Are the tires showing any uneven wear pattern? You may have a steering and or suspension component that is worn. A bad wheel bearing can get make noise as pointed out by another post.

he could have a hub issue, but there’s usually some “feel” thing going on with it too. He’s suggesting a knobby tire noise at speed.

Okay, my Wrangler (solid axle unlike yours) would make a tire noise after a few miles. It was toe’d in or out too much. With your new tires, I wouldn’t normally suspect this.

…but getting an alignment surely wouldn’t be unwise. If there are any suspension issues, they’ll find them.

Hi, after doing some searching I did see that post regarding a wheel bearing. The tires are wearing evenly and just had them rotated during my last oil change.

Any idea on a dealer cost to replace a wheel bearing? Very rough estimate would be helpful. thanks

Both front wheel bearings went bad on my 2000 Blazer after new tire were installed. For a while I thought it was tire noise.

The Blazer wheel bearings are not replaceable, the entire hub has to be replaced. The hubs were ~$350 and labor was ~$50. This was a trusted independent mechanic. The dealer would be considerably more. Hopefully it’s not the wheel bearings, but my Blazer had the same symptoms you described.

Ed B.

Before spending the big bucks, have all the wheels taken off and reinstalled on the car. Perhaps your wheels were over tightened when they did that last oil change and tire rotation. Have the shop use a good old fashioned manual torque wrench and check the owner’s manual for the proper ft/lbs for your truck. Then run it for a week or so and see if the noise is less, more, or the same. This might help rule out one problem and lead you in the right direction.

I think that you have a bad wheel bearing on the driver’s side.

You don’t need to use the dealer. Just find a good, local, independent mechanic. A good alignment/tire shop would likely be helpful in this case.

Thank you. Have a Great Day