My 2010 Ram 1500 RWD developed a new noise towards the end of a recent 900+ mile trip. There is now a prominent hum that changes pitch with the speed of the vehicle and is loudest from 25-50mph, quickly fading away above 50mph. I have checked for play in the wheel bearings (no play), there's no major wiggle in the u-joints, and rotating the tires this morning did not change the sound. The sound is present while accelerating, coasting, and decelerating, and does not change when coasting in neutral. The sound does not change when I turn the steering wheel or brake. I took it to a shop and they heard it but couldn't figure out where it was coming from. They did say there was some sort of a buildup on the brake rotor, but did not clarify what it was.

Here's a video of the hum in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OUHrlI2uvQ

Could it be worn or misaligned differential gears, or bad carrier bearings, or something else entirely? The vehicle has 125k miles of which were about 30% towing, 60% highway, and 10% city miles.

Any help will be appreciated. Thank you.

  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! You never state whether the noise is coming from the front or the rear of the vehicle. How old are the tires (how much tread is left on them)? How did you check the wheel bearings for play? They can often exhibit no play, but will distribute noise when going bad. I'd suggest the noise is there above 50, but road noises are overriding it so you cannot hear it continuing. Is there any noise from the drive train when shifting at a dead stop from forward to reverse and back again? Apr 4 '18 at 12:42
  • Thank you Paulster2! The sound's direction is difficult to tell, but since more of the higher frequencies are coming from the rear (and don't resonate as far as lower frequencies), I think it's the rear. The tires are relatively new. Replaced about 10k miles ago, and rotated yesterday morning; lots of tread left. I checked the wheel bearings by grabbing them (while lifted) at 12/6 and 9/3 to check for wiggle. You are correct, the noise is present above 50mph, but much quieter. There is a click, but I think it's normal: youtube.com/watch?v=zLT5-1PDM3U Apr 4 '18 at 18:31
  • 1
    Bearings can make noise without wiggle/play.
    – Moab
    Apr 4 '18 at 21:57
  • Hello and thank you Moab, are there any other tests besides the wiggle/play test to see if it's an axle/wheel bearing? Apr 4 '18 at 23:33
  • @waterproofpiano You can use an Infrared Thermometer to get a temperature reading on the hubs after a decent drive (10-15 mins?) This isn't fool-proof, though. If you end up with something like one back wheel hub hotter than all others, that's pretty clear. The fronts are a bit more tricky given all the heat-soak.
    – NitrusInc
    Apr 10 '18 at 13:04

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