'04 Cavalier, 115K. Tires are decent, and don't seem to be wearing unevenly.

Low-pitch droning noise at highway speed. Originally, this was only when steering left; but now, also when going straight. The noise goes away when steering right. ("steering" as in a lane change or road curve.) No vibration.

The car had a similar problem 5 years ago. That cleared after replacing the right front hub assembly.

Starting 2 years ago, the noise returned. It's probably getting gradually worse - at least, I'm more conscious of it. I replaced the RF hub again, but this didn't help. Also (for other reasons) I replaced the right front strut and both control arms. The stabilizer links look OK, AFAICT. I don't feel any play in the bearing when I rock the wheel top-to-bottom. There is a little play front-to-back, which I think is lash in the steering, and I think has been there all along.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  • It was the (right) rear wheel bearing. Either it had gotten worse, or I missed it when I checked it before; in any case, I could feel movement now. Replaced; all is well.
    – George
    Jul 6, 2015 at 10:47

1 Answer 1


My first suggestion was going to be the wheel bearing. It still might be one of the rear bearings. I had this problem with my '06 Pontiac and the wheel hub (including bearing) was surprisingly cheap and easy to replace. You should be able to inspect the rear bearings much the same way as the front bearings.

My second suggestion would be the CV joints. The boot might have a small enough crack that no particulate has infiltrated, but it might have gotten wet and lost some grease, leading to noise especially when turning. You should be able to see cracks or tears in one of the CV boots, if this is the case. You may even be able to get more life out of it by adding some grease (if they've got zerk fittings).

  • Yeah - I forgot to say, I checked the rear bearings. A couple of times.
    – George
    Jun 30, 2015 at 18:53
  • ... oops. Re the CV joints: wouldn't I get some sort of noise on slow turns? Anyway, no obvious injuries. And, (FWIW) it did pass (NYS) inspection, where they had it up on the lift.
    – George
    Jun 30, 2015 at 18:56

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