Sounds Like Front Wheel Bearing Noise - 2007 Tacoma (2WD), 222,500 miles

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3,155
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Nashville, TN via Memphis
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For quite a while now - can't say exactly how long, I've been hearing a "hum", similar to the hum I've heard coming from the tires of trucks with aftermarket, off-road tires, but not nearly as loud. It starts coming on at around 40 mph. As I said, not too loud, but, I've owned this truck since I bought it new in 2007, so I know the noises my truck makes. It's not the tires - I'm running highway-biased Michelin LTX M/S tires that are very quiet. And they're fairly new - only about 20,000 miles on them. I suspect the front wheel bearings (I replaced both rear wheel bearings several months ago due to one of them wearing out, and being alerted to the failure by the axle seal on that side failing and allowing diff oil into the bearing housing where the wheel speed sensor is, and causing it to fail, illuminating the ABS/BRAKE warning lamps). Well, yesterday, while rotating the tires, I checked the bearings for play (grabbed wheel at 12:00 & 6:00 and tried to rock it) and I could not detect any play whatsoever. Couldn't really tell if there was noise or roughness by rotating the wheel, or the hub, once the wheels were off, because of the brakes scrubbing a bit. Anyway, it's time for a front brake job, and I was trying to decide whether to replace the front wheel bearings, or just let them ride for a bit longer. The truck is my daily driver. 222,500 miles. I drive it around town - not many out of town trips - usually we take the GF's 2018 Civic for road trips. Still, it's how I get to work. I don't have any experience with symptoms of wheel bearing failure, as this is the first vehicle I've had with this many miles. So, can the front wheel bearings have enough wear to warrant replacement even if they don't have noticeable play?
 
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11,699
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North Carolina
If you turn the wheel back and forth at speed does the sound change, increase decrease? They can have noise before you can detect play.
 
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3,155
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Nashville, TN via Memphis
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I need to go out and drive it and see if it makes more noise when I go around a turn, go around corners at speed, turning wheel back and forth at speed, etc. There's a hilly neighborhood with some curvy roads not far from here that will be perfect. I'll report back. I'd like to get my stuff ordered today. Need pads, and trying to decide whether to take the rotors off and take them to a shop to be machined, or just buy new rotors. I know I don't want cheap [censored] Chinese rotors. Bought some from Auto Zone once, and they warped very quickly. Ended up just getting my stock rotors turned, and that's what is on the truck now.
 
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1,385
Location
RI
Your best bet is to jack it up and spin the wheels by hand and listen for grumble and feel for roughness
 
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11,948
Location
OH
I recently had a front wheel bearing replaced on the 05 Matrix. It was the right front bearing. The shop took it for a test drive then put in on a lift. Had a guy in the car who put it in drive and accelerated. The right front was wobbling pretty good. The other side was much less. Funny the same shop replaced that bearing two years ago while the others are still original. Had the right front replaced using an SKF bearing this time.
 
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11,324
Location
Illinois
Yep, I just did this for my MIL. Rear wheels in her 2015-ish Altima. We waited until she changed tires as they were too worn for impending winter. Sound remained so she left the car with me this weekend while she and oilBabe went to Pittsburgh. Driving it, it sounds like it's from the drivers side. But off the ground, the grumbly bearing is on the passenger side. Sound is telegraphed in a car, so the best way to figure it out is get it in the air and spin the wheels. As others indicated, There was no play. I pulled on the wheels like we would doing a tech inspection for AutoX and no noticeable play. But a quick spin of the elevated wheel revealed the noisy bearing.
Originally Posted by mattd
Your best bet is to jack it up and spin the wheels by hand and listen for grumble and feel for roughness
 
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3,155
Location
Nashville, TN via Memphis
Thread starter
Originally Posted by mattd
Your best bet is to jack it up and spin the wheels by hand and listen for grumble and feel for roughness
Like I said in my original post, I did that and couldn't detect any roughness.
 
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1,385
Location
RI
Then maybe it is not a front wheel bearing. It should bet obvious if it is. I did replace several of them of that generation of Tacoma's FWIW when I worked at my other job. It could also be that it's not bad enough yet for you to detect. You have to listen and feel very carefully. Put your ear right next to the hub while it spins
 
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Messages
3,155
Location
Nashville, TN via Memphis
Thread starter
Originally Posted by mattd
Then maybe it is not a front wheel bearing. It should bet obvious if it is. I did replace several of them of that generation of Tacoma's FWIW when I worked at my other job. It could also be that it's not bad enough yet for you to detect. You have to listen and feel very carefully. Put your ear right next to the hub while it spins
Thanks for your input. I'll just have to do it when I take the rotors off, then. If the bearing is making noise, I can't hear it over the scrubbing of the brake pads against the rotors.
 

4WD

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13,202
Location
Texas
Cheap things first - raise that wheel - grab W/E and shake - that checks linkage/bearing. Grab it N/S and shake - that checks bearing more.
 
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3,992
Location
Central Maryland
My Dakota 4WD driver's front wheel bearing had no play, nor ground when spun with brake removed, but howled while driven. Had me mystified until the tire shop alignment guy told me the replace the bearing. I had just done the other side ball joint and tie rod end to complete the alignment, so he wasn't surprised when I declined the service and did that, too. I used the new Timken hub from Rockauto, since Timken was an OEM supplier. Man, with new Michelin's, 3 new suspension components and no howl, the Dakota feels like a new truck.
 
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356
Location
hawaii
6 lug? Save yourself the aggravation of needing a special socket and tricky press work, buy the hub and bearing assembly instead of just the bearing.
 
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1,550
Location
Austin, TX
One of the things with bearings on an older vehicle is it is very difficult to diagnose - there are many rattling and worn components. Wheel bearings especially of a truck does take enough beating to last a long time. 225K if they are original then it is a winner - I replaced the ones at 175K even though there was very faint noise coming from the wheels. Tires too can be very tricky - especially Michellins they freaking suck big time (only idioots would buy a Michellin)
 
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2,183
Location
Flaherty, KY
Wheel bearings often don't make noise unless they have a load on them. In other words, simply raising the wheel and turning (or accelerating in gear) may not produce any results. If you suspect a front wheel bearing, run the truck up to 50mph and turn aggressively (but safely!) to each side. 9/10 times this will tell you without a doubt whether you have a questionable wheel bearing. If you turn right, you are shifting weight and load to the left bearing, and vice versa if you turn left. If there is any howling/grinding it is the bearing with the load on it that is suspect. I have had a couple wheel bearings go bad on me and neither one produced any noise or play when driving straight or manipulating the wheel/tire off the ground.
 
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6,838
Location
MIchigan
On-ramps and Off- ramps are a good place to test them bearings because they usually have long winding turns. Try some that have both right and left turns. If the humming goes away while turning right then you probably have a bad (right) passenger wheel bearing. With 222K miles.... they probably are shot. Some vendors on Ebay have reasonable prices on bearings.
 
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3,155
Location
Nashville, TN via Memphis
Thread starter
Originally Posted by ms21043
6 lug? Save yourself the aggravation of needing a special socket and tricky press work, buy the hub and bearing assembly instead of just the bearing.
Yes, it is. I'd heard that advice from someone else also. Thank you. If I end up replacing them, I'll do that.
 
Messages
3,155
Location
Nashville, TN via Memphis
Thread starter
So, I tried swerving back and forth, and it's unmistakeable. It's the left bearing. Gets louder when I swerve to the right. Also gets louder going around a right-hand cloverleaf on-ramp. Now just need to do some research on what bearings to go with. Went with Timken off Amazon for the rears. Same as OEM but for much less money than even a wholesale dealer wanted. But, of course, had to pay a shop to press them off the axles and press the new ones on. Just need to research coat difference between buying just the bearing and having it swapped over, and just getting the hub & bearing already assembled. At around $90, the Dorman pre-assembled unit sounds hard to beat. Anybody have experience with it?
 
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3,977
Location
Central Virginia
I don't have experience w/Dorman bearings, but my 2018 Mustang had crash damage that ruined a rear wheel bearing. It didn't wobble, but made noise at about 40+ mph and there were no other signs of it being bad except for noise. I replaced with Motorcraft OEM from the dealer since the other guy's ins was paying.
 
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