Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Wheel Hub Assembly

Today's modern cars, and those manufactured after 1997 are equipped with a single bearing and hub assembly that is attached to each wheel and tire on a vehicle. The wheel hub assembly includes wheel studs that attach the wheels of the vehicle to the car and is mounted to the steering and suspension system on the front end and the rear axle on the rear end. In theory, this single wheel hub assembly should last the lifespan of the vehicle, however, like any other mechanical device, it is subject to wear and tear and can break or wear out prematurely.

The wheel hub assembly is prone to damage caused by multiple driving situations such as:

  • Hitting pot holes
  • Striking cubs
  • Being involved in vehicle collisions

Although this part takes a tremendous amount of abuse, it's commonly overlooked when repairs are done to other mechanical components such as tires and wheels, suspension parts, coils, shocks and struts and other front end and rear end housing parts. When the part is damaged or is beginning to show signs of premature wear, it will commonly show some warning signs or symptoms that can be easily recognized by most car owners.

Listed below are a few of the symptoms that car owners should be aware, that will alert them to a bad or failing wheel hub assembly.

1. Roaring sound coming from the tire / wheel area

Typically when a wheel hub assembly goes bad it's actually the wheel bearing inside the single assembly that is damaged. This part will make a roaring sound, similar to a metal-to-metal grinding sound when the bearing is wearing out. This sound is caused by lack of lubrication inside the bearing, a misaligned bearing or one that has cracked due to impact with another object. It's very difficult to determine by sound which wheel bearing is going bad as the sound can be very misleading. However, if one side wheel hub assembly is broken, both sides on the same axle need to be replaced at the same time.

If you notice any roaring or grinding sound coming from the front end of your vehicle, safely drive home and contact a local ASE certified mechanic as soon as possible.

2. Steering wheel vibrates or feels loose

Another indication of a damaged wheel hub assembly is when the steering wheel vibrates at lower speeds and progressively gets worse as the car accelerates. A damaged wheel hub assembly can also cause the steering wheel to feel loose when you're driving down the road, making turns or negotiating dips in the road. The reason for this is commonly due to a worn out wheel bearing inside the hub assembly. If you notice this symptom, it's recommended to contact a certified mechanic as soon as possible so they can road test your vehicle. This is often the best way to properly diagnose what is actually causing the vibration in the steering wheel, and can save you a lot of time and money on replacing the wheel hub assembly.

3. Tire / wheel combination has a lot of play when in the air

Most of the time this symptom will be noticed by a certified tire mechanic, brakes replacement service, or oil change center that is rotating your tires. When the vehicle is on a hydraulic lift or on jack stands, and the tire / wheel combo is tightly attached to the wheel hub assembly, but wiggles from left to right or up and down when pulled, this is an indication of a broken wheel hub assembly and should be replaced immediately. Once again, broken wheel hub assemblies should be replaced in pairs on the same axle.

4. Clicking sound from the wheels

Finally, if you hear a clicking sound that increases in speed as the vehicle accelerates, this could be a problem with the wheel hub assembly as well. In this case, the brake caliper will move up and down and hit the top of the wheels as the vehicle drives down the street. This is due to the wheel hub assembly bearing being broken.

If you notice any of the above warning signs, please contact a local ASE certified mechanic as quickly as possible so they can diagnose the precise problem and fix your vehicle as quickly as possible.


Next Step

Schedule Suspension Inspection

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Suspension Inspection. Once the problem has been diagnosed, you will be provided with an upfront quote for the recommended fix and receive $20.00 off as a credit towards the repair. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Suspension Inspection reviews

Excellent Rating

(145,134)

Rating Summary
135,816
5,117
1,032
732
2,437
135,816
5,117
1,032
732
2,437

Joel

20 years of experience
906 reviews
Joel
20 years of experience
Infiniti G35 - Brake System Inspection - Jacksonville Beach, Florida
Joel was great. Honest fast and professional. He is the automobile maintenance version of the trusted family doctor, attorney etc. Good to have a QB to save time and $pin job at dealership etc!
Mercury Grand Marquis - Transmission Fluid Service - Jacksonville, Florida
He is amazing! His communication is excellent. I would definitely recommend him.

Dameron

16 years of experience
73 reviews
Dameron
16 years of experience
Mercedes-Benz GL450 - Suspension Inspection - Indianapolis, Indiana
He's so professional

Clifton

29 years of experience
289 reviews
Clifton
29 years of experience
Ford Mustang - Suspension - West Palm Beach, Florida
Clifton did a good job finding the source of this loud clicking /popping sound I had in my front end suspension. I could've ended up buying unnecessary parts thinking it was something else .

Fabrice

19 years of experience
134 reviews
Fabrice
19 years of experience
Toyota RAV4 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Apopka, Florida
Te mechanic who came was courteous and prepared. He went over and above to make sure I was satisfied...

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

Why Do Brake Rotors Warp?
Brake rotors are the large metal discs visible behind the wheels of a car. These spin along with the wheels so...
Can a Leak in the Brake System Cause Total Brake Failure?
Although Although there are several issues that can lead to total brake failure, the most common one is some form of brake fluid leak. When a brake leak is present, it affects the fluid pressure in your system. Since it...
How Often Should Brake Fluid Be Changed?
Brake Brake fluid is a hydraulic fluid that is used in automotive braking systems. The most often used brake fluids on the market today are glycol-ether based. However, mineral oil based brake fluid is available as well. The brake...

Related questions

I bent my rear sway bar pretty bad. Had it replaced, but the wheel is still a little bent. What else can be the problem?

Hi there. The rear wheel being out of alignment, could be the result of a bent strut assembly, a bent trailing/control arm, a bent bearing knuckle and/or bent rear subframe. Replacing components without diagnosis can be expensive and time consuming...

Driver side back of truck is seemingly bouncing too much.

Hi there. Check the suspension and the shock absorber and look for anything broken, leaking, or damaged. Replace the shock absorber is there is any dents or it is leaking oil out of it. A loose suspension component or a...

When having to quickly brake, pedal goes to floor

Hello there, thank you for asking about your 1988 Buick Reatta. Generally, a hard brake pedal is caused by a problem with the brake booster. A pedal that sinks to the floor usually indicates a problem with the master cylinder,...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com