Whining Noise

Jeep 2000
She’s in great shape, needs a little TLC, but the other day I heard a whining noise when driving. No sound when starting out and its not too loud, as I drive a little down the road, it begins, it doesn’t necessarily become louder the more I accelerate, just seems louder. It sounds centrifugal, as it sounds like it comes from something spinning, because it winds up faster I go then winds down. If I have it in neutral and press gas then it does not make the sound.
I was told by mechanic that I need new ball joints, sway bar, and u joints. I was wondering if this could be the issue. I was just hoping that it was something serious - as in differential or transmission.
Strange thing, sound happened a couple months back and then it went away, just like that, after I filled my front left tire the up, which was quite low on air, the noise had returned -
I appreciate your assistance and time.
Be Well -

Bad ball joints would not make that type of noise, but because they are a serious safety issue, you can’t safely ignore the need to replace them. However, you might want a second opinion before throwing parts at the front end.

The sway bars and their links also would not make that type of noise.
However, u-joints certainly could make this type of noise.

On the other hand, the problem could lie in the differential and/or the transmission.
At the very least, has anyone checked the level of the oil in these components?

It is also possible that wheel bearings are the source of the noise.
Because the wheel bearings are just as much of a safety issue as the ball joints, you can’t ignore them if they are problematic.

Are you sure that this Jeep is in “great shape”?


“needing TLC” ?? Proper maintenance is NOT to be confused with TLC, it is something that is a requirement if you want the car to continue to be usable. I doubt this car is in “great shape”.

“I was just hoping that it was something serious” ?? few things are more serious than suspension items like ball-joints. Or wheel bearings.

Do not drive this car until you can get the suspension and wheel bearings inspected (for a second opinion) and repaired.

great’ish -trying to be optimistic here, after my wife died I am left with hospital bills that go on forever and cant afford a new car. I have had several mechanics say different things all together, they said other than a few issues to address, she is in great shape, sorry any optimism keeps me going.

You sound like my brother. He has a penchant for Volvos and has one in his driveway that’s in “great shape.” The only problem is that’s it’s been unable to move in 5 years. I’m truly sorry for the loss of your wife.

It could be a tire separating internally or wheel bearing. I mention the tire because of low tire pressure sounded the same. So sorry for your loss.

Whatever it is, sounds like the mystery is something that stops spinning when transmission is in neutral but vehicle is still in motion. Sounds like a process of elimination from there. Is your vehicle equipped with an automatic trans? or a manual?

The fact that it makes the noise in drive (assuming it’s an automatic) but not in neutral tells me it’s a transmission problem.

Sorry, missed the neutral part. That eliminates wheels, tires, drive shafts and rear end. As @“MY 2 CENTS” said, tranny.

leaning with last 2 posts since it seems transmission related , but also want to throw in torque converter?

“The fact that it makes the noise in drive (assuming it’s an automatic) but not in neutral tells me it’s a transmission problem.”

This of course, is subject to interpretation of what the OP stated, namely…
" If I have it in neutral and press gas then it does not make the sound."

I interpret that statement to mean that if he races the engine while the trans is in neutral (and the car is stationary), he doesn’t hear the sound. You interpret it to mean that he is putting it into neutral and racing the engine while the car is moving.

Can the OP please clarify for us whether the car is moving–or not–when you put the shift lever into the neutral position?

@VDCdriver Good point.

first thank you all for assistance -
to add additional info - if im driving and I begin to hear the noise while driving down the road, I put my car into neutral, this does not effect the noise, it still persists. The sound which is annoying, can not be heard, but barely - you really need to strain, if the windows are up.

That changes everything. Could be a wheel bearing or simply a noisy tire.

I think that the noise is most likely to be either a wheel bearing or a universal joint.
While a dry u-joint isn’t a major safety hazard, if a wheel bearing seizes-up while driving, it would have the same effect as jamming on the brakes on just one wheel, and that could easily lead to an accident.

Additionally, it is possible to lose a wheel as a result of a bad wheel bearing, so I hope that the OP takes the car to a competent mechanic a.s.a.p. for proper diagnosis.