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Why is my car so loud at certain speeds? Tire or axle / bearing noise?

I have a 2010 Honda Civic with 73K miles. I’ve noticed that the car can get loud when driving and would like to ask help.

It has 4 Michelin Primacy tires from Costco put on at 45K. Not sure when the noise started, but now with my iphone I run a sound meter app and the sound level is 80 - 95db . Yeah, it’s not calibrated, but my wife’s Lexus reads about 75db worst case. so even just relative to the lexus, it’s loud.

The noise is loudest (95db)at around 57MPH and some other speeds like 47, 67 also. Other speeds in between these, it gets down to 80db.

There’s NO vibration at any speeds (so tires are balanced?)
There’s NO pull to either side when driving
There’s NO pull to either side when braking
There’s NO change in the sound level when putting the transmission in neutral (so it’s not a trans issue?)
There’s NO change in the sound level when the engine is idling at the speeds (so the sound is not tied to RPM level)
There’s NO discernible change in the sound level on different roads (so 57 MPH is loud on most any road).
The tires are wearing normally
Rotating the tires had no change in the sound level

What’s left? Tires and axle / bearings? Is there anything I can do to look for / test for to figure out the issue, short of a new set of tires? I guess I’ll have a mechanic look at the bearings?

Is tire noise usually tied to road speed in that pattern of getting louder at a certain speed, getting quieter above and below that speed, then get louder again at another certain speed?


There are a few realities at play here.
The first one is that many tires develop tread noise after 20k to 30k of tread wear.
Secondly, tread noise can be speed-specific…depending on the tire model
The third reality is that Honda puts VERY little sound insulation into Civics, while Toyota puts a lot of sound-deadening insulation into its Lexus models.

So…in the absence of being able to examine your car personally, I have to believe that you are just hearing increased noise as the tread wears, and that this noise is exacerbated by Honda’s lack of sound-deadening insulation on Civic models.

I had a simular problem with our 2003 4Runner. We had recently installed new,Michelin tires all around but didn’t notice the noise right away. I did think it was tires, but when I had it in my independent shop for an oil change, I asked them to check the noise. It turned out to be the left front wheel bearing.

Is there a change in the noise while cornering?


I’m with VDC 100% on this.
I should add that I looked up the consumer reviews for the Michelin Primacy and there are some comments that state that they’re loud, in some cases with emphasis.

Excellent post, by the way. I wish every post were that detailed, clear, and descriptive.

The only thing that comes to mind is a review of all terrain tires I recently read. It seems that varying the widths between the traction lugs on the out edge of the tires did some thing to cancel the tire noise of higher traction tires. I am going to make a wild guess and say, perhaps as they wear, this difference became less or at least altered. I “think” it is not uncommon for tires as they wear to get noisier, even if the tires appear to wear properly. You certainly have enough miles to warrant enough wear. So I agree with same and VDC.

A reading when the tires were first put on would help, but who does that ? Short of making a wise remark about your hearing improving, we’ll just stick with the tires.

Tires are rated on road noise by consumers report. I always check it out before buying.

I’d like to repeat Testers question. What happens when you take a corner or simply change lanes? Does the noise change?

I also agree with @VDCdriver on this. The tires on my wife’s car started making noise little by little at the start of a fairly long trip last summer. When we got to the destination…we had new tires put on just so we could have a peaceful ride back home. The new tires were exceptionally quiet even though they are mid-range quality tires from Walmart.

I’m getting a little tread noise too. Not sure how many miles on the tires but the nice thing about a snow storm is that if they are quiet driving on snow, you can rule out anything else like bearings and axles.

It could be a wheel bearing, more likely front that back. But unlikely at 75 k miles. Unless a severe pothole or two were hit at speed at some point maybe. The other reason I think it isn’t a wheel bearing is that bad wheel bearing noise tends to just get louder the faster you go. It usually doesn’t get louder, then quieter, then louder as you speed up. The questions about how the noise changes when cornering would help to determine if it is bearing noise, but at this point it sounds like a tire noise problem. If you could temporarily exchange the tires for different ones known to be quiet as a test, that’s the best way to find out.

Tires in general do get noisier as they wear. It can also be easerbated by a car out of alignment or in the case of a BMW, as I read on their forum, the actual alignment specs itself. Having your car alignment checked along with replacing the tires when they are due, might be worthwhile. Realize, a Civic is a noisy car to begin with and any noise it generates whether it be tires or otherwise will be amplified compared to a Lexus. Because I have just changed vehicles from a 4 Runner to a Tacoma but mounted the same winter tires I had before on the 4Runner, they sound noisier in my now “down graded” vehicle with less insulation. Hondas are noted in most years to have excessive road noise in the cabin. IMho, you may have several factors at work here and just might have to wear ear muffs till the tires or the car are due for a change. My dad always said, “buy a car with a good radio” so as it ages, you can at least drown the noise out with something you like.

First, tires can develop irregular wear and produce noise and vibrations (Noise is just a higher frequency!). While many people blame the tire, this is usually caused by misalignment, and aggravated by lack of rotation.

You’ve rotated the tires and no change, so the problem isn’t likely tires. That leaves bearings or CV joints.

One last parting thought. It is worth getting fixed by changing something as even 90db over time can cause irretrievable hearing loss.