Bad tires? Or is it a wheel bearing?

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Vehicle is a 2016 Explorer AWD, 2.3L. 45k miles on vehicle. We took it in last week because I suspected a bad wheel bearing. Sure enough, the shop diagnosed the driver’s side rear as bad. It was way louder than the rest when using the stethoscope on the lift. The tech also said that one of the front bearings made a bit more noise than the other side, but not enough to concern him and need a replacement (this is a shop mind you, so if there’s money to be made, I’m sure he’d recommend replacing it). Anyway, the noise does seem reduced now, but there is still an intermittent roar/humming from about 28-35 ish mph. Then it goes pretty quiet until you are at like 44-50 mph, then it gets noisier again. After that, it’s pretty quiet until you reach 74ish. The noise comes back but is higher-pitched this time and the loudest. The weird thing is, at most speeds when the noise is present, pressing on the brakes eliminates or greatly reduces the noise, especially at freeway speeds. Even a slight tap of the brakes will stop the noise until you let off the brakes again. At lower speeds braking doesn’t have as large of an effect on the noise. Changing steering direction doesn’t seem to have any real effect on the noise. If it did, I’d suspect a wheel bearing.

The vehicle has 45k miles, but the tires only have about 30-35k on them, since winter tires are used part of the year. The tires on the vehicle now are the OEM Michelin Latitude Tour HP and are just over 6 years old. All tires have nice even wear, and no odd wear like cupping, etc. The steering wheel tracks nice and straight.

The only thing I haven’t tried is putting the winter tires on and seeing if the noise is still present. Of course, with the temps as high as they are outside, this isn’t good for the tires and may create more noise. Any ideas?

Another thing to consider: we recently purchased this vehicle, and it is our first AWD vehicle. Could it be that some of the noise is just normal driveline noise that I’m not used to? Most everything else I’ve driven is front wheel drive.
 
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The speed specific noise between 28-35, and 50-74, seems to be resonance when you think about it, 50/2 = 25 and 74/2 = 37, close enough to 28-35. Resonance based on speed is probably a tire or wheel issue. I'd try rotating the tire or replace and see.
 

Klutch9

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The speed specific noise between 28-35, and 50-74, seems to be resonance when you think about it, 50/2 = 25 and 74/2 = 37, close enough to 28-35. Resonance based on speed is probably a tire or wheel issue. I'd try rotating the tire or replace and see.

I forgot to mention that too, but I also did the quick math on the speeds and it got me thinking… the noise is definitely most pronounced in increments of every 25mph or so, and seems to fade or go away in between those speeds. However, the tires visibly look fine. No sidewall lumps, even tread, etc. Are these tires just loud?
 
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Don't know about your tire. I had similar incident in the past on my corolla with a set of very hard Goodyear. It looked fine, until I replace them and they went away, that I didn't realize it is really the tires.
 

Klutch9

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Don't know about your tire. I had similar incident in the past on my corolla with a set of very hard Goodyear. It looked fine, until I replace them and they went away, that I didn't realize it is really the tires.

What were the symptoms on your car? Was the noise in a similar pattern to mine?
 
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A hum and vibration on the steering that's probably about 4 / second at about 70mph. It was a 175 65 14 tire so the frequency is going to be different from yours.
 
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A bad wheel bearing could have caused abnormal wear to your tire.
Rotate them, it may correct itself over time
 
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That's somewhat early for a hub and bearing to fail, unless the wheel took a blow to a curb,.nasty pothole, or slid sideways into a curb or similar.

Sounds like if one was replaced and the noise diminished, safe bet there's another bad bearing somewhere else.


When a front hub and bearing goes bad, or starts to go bad, a change in direction with the steering wheel sometimes results in a change in pitch or sound from the bad bearing.
 
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Had a bad rear wheel bearing on a jeep patriot just out of the 36k warrenty.
Tire wore badly first then the noise started
 
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noises can be hard to pinpoint, BUT if your shop is good + you trust them sleep well!! tyres make different sounds in their wear life + new to you vehicle sounds take getting used to
 
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