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I have self-diagnosed my RAV4 with a wheel bearing going bad. One thing I noticed:

  • During height of the day (10 am to 6 pm), when hottest: bearing scratching/grinding noise is loudest
  • Otherwise: bearing noise isn't as loud

Does this match anyone else's experience? Does it make sense that increasing outdoor temperature can correspond with louder bearing noise?

I am wondering if this can help me further understand the noises my car can make.


My inclinations the wheel bearing is bad:

  • Scratching/grinding noise starts at ≥30 mph (if hot outside) or ≥55 mph (if cold)
  • Hitting brakes doesn't seem to affect the noise
  • It continues for the entire drive (not a function of short or long drives)
  • Car is a 2008 Toyota RAV4 with >200k miles, and I have beaten it up over the years

Full disclaimer: noise could be coming from brakes, I may be wrong in my self-diagnosis

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    How did you diagnose a faulty bearing? Is there play on the wheel? How do you know the noise is not coming from the brakes?
    – HandyHowie
    Oct 24, 2023 at 6:08
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    Note that the humidity is also likely changing along with the temperature. Oct 24, 2023 at 7:07
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    Also, if this is actually a bad wheel bearing, you're usually able to feel it in the steering wheel and body before you hear it. Once you can hear a wheel bearing, it's usually best to get it fixed before you drive it anymore. When a wheel bearing gets noisy, failure is usually immanent. Oct 24, 2023 at 9:58
  • Thank you all for the comments, I have updated the original post with details of my car, and I am now questioning my self-diagnosis of wheel bearing issue. Let me know what you think, if you have time Oct 24, 2023 at 17:43
  • Have you checked for play in the bearing yet?
    – HandyHowie
    Oct 26, 2023 at 16:38

1 Answer 1

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Well, from my single data point, it turned out both of my rear wheel bearings were bad. Using both a stethoscope (for noise) and hand test (for play), bad wheel bearings were diagnosed. Since replacing them both together, all noise has stopped.

So, now I believe that the noise from a bad wheel bearing can increase with increasing outdoor temperature. This belief is backed by my personal experience with my rear wheel bearings going bad.

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