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Q: Grinding noise from back of car

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Midway through a 350 mile drive I noticed my car making a sound as if something was dragging on the ground behind it. When I looked and saw there was nothing dragging, I was confused. There is a grinding sound when I am going between zero and 20 mph. It is very an intermittent and by no means consistent. Once I get above 20 mph it stops. There are times where I drive and do not hear it at all. It sounds like it is coming from the center of the rear of the car, but I could be wrong. Definitely coming from the rear of the car. Have tried driving with the parking brake on lightly.

My car has 184000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: Hi and thanks for contacting YourMechanic. ...

Hi and thanks for contacting YourMechanic. It seems that your vehicle has a wheel bearing that is grinding causing the noise that your are describing. Raise up the vehicle where the rear wheels are off the ground and the front tires are chocked. With the parking brake off, spin the rear wheels and feel the center of the wheel where the hub for any strange wear patterns.

Some wheel bearings will only make the sound when under a load. Get a large pry bar or long 2x4 and lift up on the tire. Look to see if the wheel and tire assembly moves, and if it moves, look to see what is moving. If you have loose wheel lug nuts, then the wheel will drift around and grind against the drum or disk brakes on your vehicle. Set the parking brake and check the wheel lug nuts to see if they are tight. If the lug nuts are loose, then remove the wheel and inspect it for any shiny areas. If the lug nuts are tight, then you will need to remove and replace the wheel hub. I suggest replacing both rear wheel hubs, or bearings if your vehicle has tapered wheel bearings. If you need assistance troubleshooting the noise, a certified professional from YourMechanic can inspect the car at your home or office and guide you through repairs.

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