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I have a 2004 Infiniti G35 coupe with a manual transmission. Lately, I feel like my road noise might be louder than it should be, but I'm no mechanic and I don't have enough experience to really know for sure. It's not accompanied by any other symptoms, sounds, wobbles or vibrations, just the extra bit of what just sounds like low-pitched road noise. The volume increases with speed, the pitch does not.

I only start hearing it around 70km/h (40mph) and higher. I don't think the noise characteristics were any different during quick lane changes, but I'm going to double-check tomorrow.

Unfortunately, I don't have access to a good enough microphone to get a good recording the road noise (my phone mic just makes an incomprehensible mess), but I took a video of jiggle and rotation tests on jacks.

Also worth noting: I have aftermarket wheels. Nothing extreme, but the factory wheels are 18x8+30. The aftermarket wheels are 18x8.5+25. Could that difference be causing extra wear on the bearings?

I muted the video during the jiggle tests (to spare you from all my yammering), but it was absolutely dead silent; no knocking or squeaking, just nothing at all.

Do I need new bearings?

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The only sounds I can hear are the rubber CV boots squeaking as they rotate, and a bit of disc pad to disc contact which is normal. I can't hear any bearing noise.

A wheel/tyre size change may change the rotational sound freqencies & characteristics a little but not do much as far as creating bearing issues. Well not unless there was some extreme change in wheel, tyre size etc.

If the wheel bearings were on their way out you, may feel slight, or (if they're bad) a lot of 'play' in them as you do the gripping side to side and top to bottom test. As well as a rough grinding feeling in some cases accompanied by a droning crunching type sound when spun, however this can sometimes only be heard if the wheel is rotating a little faster.

Also you are likely start to hear bearings rumbling when the bearings are loaded e.g travelling around tight,ish corners etc.

You can test this buy finding a quiet road, turn stereo, fans etc off. Then SAFELY, and at a reasonable speed say 20 - 30mph.. gently veer (not swerve) the car from side to side, effectively loading each side wheel bearing. Listening carefully for rumbling type sounds, and if there are any, which corner of the vehicle they're coming from. This can help identify a problematic bearing.

  • Thanks, I'm going to put another 5 lbs of torque on the lug nuts and do another test drive today. When I went yesterday, there was no rumbling or vibrating. Just what sounds like "more" road noise than what I thought I remembered from last summer. – Chronic_AllTheThings Apr 22 '18 at 14:12
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Do you have an Non-Contact/Infrared Thermometer? Take a drive, about 20+ mins, and then check the temperature of each hub. If you have an anomaly high temp at one wheel hub, you'll have a clear answer.

Unfortunately they can be pretty difficult to diagnose unless you can manually spin them, after removing them from the vehicle, It's best to rule out all other possibilities, rather than stress determining if the bearings are bad. Most other parts, that would be in question, yield clearer results in their tests.

  • I don't have an IR thermometer, but I might be able to get one. How I measure it accurately? Remove the center cap and point it in the middle? – Chronic_AllTheThings Apr 22 '18 at 14:16
  • Yes. Exactly. Shoot the hub from a few angles. Get a reading on other components around that are involved with the knuckle, like the calipers. If you find a hub hotter than the calipers, it's likely bad. The point of shooting for other temps is to make sure that you're not reading heat soak from other parts. It's not a science, but if one hub is hotter than the rest it's highly suspect. – NitrusInc Apr 22 '18 at 18:17

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