Droning/rumbling/humming/bloomin irritating

For the past couple of weeks my car has been making the most irritating droning sound from 38mph upwards. Doesn’t matter which gear im in, the pitch matches the speed of the car (higher pitch at higher speeds, lower pitch at…). Also, the sound disappears when turning. As in wheel goes past 11 o clock or 1 o clock and there is heavenly silence.

Im tearing my hair out trying to work out what it is. Doesnt  seem to match the symptoms of dodgy wheel bearings or diffs. Im starting to think its just air vibrating under the car. Has anyone heard of anyhing like this before? Needs sorting before work finds out who keeps stealing all the ear plugs…


Car is a 57 plate mk3, 60000 miles. Still 4x4 height, no other exterior mods. Cheers in advance!

Could be tyre noise (Don’t happen to have GSD3’s do you?)

Try swopping wheels around and see if the noise changes

Really? Sounds the perfect description to me…

You reckon? It doesnt seem to be coming from any corner in particular. Is it going to be a woman-dog to work ouy which one it is?? 

It could be something as simple as loose wheel bolts, have you at least checked?

Well from ‘a droning sound that depends on the car’s speed and changes/goes away in a corner’ then I’d say it’s the prime suspect. To say for sure it’s a matter of lifting the car, turning the wheels and listening/feeling for the telltale grittiness. Or if you have a trusted mechanic, ask him to tell you. I’d advise against rocking up at a ‘kwik rip’ style shop and asking them if they think you need to give them any money as they tend to say yes regardless.

Another good way to diagnose it is to see if it gets worse over the next few thousand miles and when it starts to scream, then you really know for sure. I would first make double sure your tyres are in good order and your wheel nuts are done up though.

Checked nuts and all were ok. Tyres are visibly ok but i’ll swap them around and see how that goes. Getting the car on the lift tonight and i’ll see what its like. Cheers for the advice gents!

 Hi! …I have had the same trouble since I had 4 new Hankook tyres put on mine late last year! …they are doing my head and ears in!!! …

I used to travel around 250 miles a week to work and back, … now I only travel 30 miles a week to work and back. God knows how many years I will have to put up with these TERRIBLE tyres

  I am driving them as hard as possible now to wear them out quicker. Stay clear of Hankook directional tyres…

Sounds like a wheel bearing to me, provided it goes away when you steer in one direction but not the other (unless both sides have gone at the same time, which would be a cruel twist of fate).

If the noise changes the instant you steer, it’s probably a front one. If it doesn’t change until one of the rear wheels has loaded up after a steering input, it’s probably a rear one. If it gets louder when you steer left, it’s a left one and vice versa. Putting a lateral load on the bearing, as happens with the outside wheels on a turn, quietens the bearing and makes the one released of load louder.

Hope that helps. Also, as mentioned above, you should be able to hear a duff bearing if you jack up a wheel and spin it. In the case of the rear wheels, you’d have to jack them both up, put the car on axle stands, run the car in gear, listen closely by the hubs and compare the sound from one side to the other.

Good luck


The usual test is to find a smooth quiet piece of road, get up to the noisy speed, knock it into neutral and listen. Last one I had was a BMW 3 series and with the windows down it was easy for a passenger to hear the offside rear.

Michael, Hancook are generally good tyres. I’d go to a reputable tyre place and have them checked for roundness and balance. Could be as simple as the original fitter messing up the balancing. Balance is often noticable on the front through the steering, but the rears may show as rumble.



IME a wheel bearing makes more of a “chuffing” sound that varies with road speed but goes away (or gets stronger depending on the direction you’re turning) in corners.

It sounds more like bad alignment and tyre scrubbing to me.  An experienced person can tell merely by feeling the tyre.  We had this on our Octavia estate, the guy at the dealer ran his hand over the rear tyres and instantly diagnosed “sawtoothing” which is a known problem when the camber is out of spec.  They realigned the rear suspensionunder warranty although we did have to get a new pair of tyres (not from them, they weren’t trying to make money out of it).

So I’d swap the tyres front to rear and then get the full alignment checked.

 Well ! … Finally sorted the orchestra of noise! … Even though the ‘offside front’ wheel bearing seemed fine when tried by 2 garages, it did have a very slight ‘dry’ sound on a fast rotation test, so decided to have it replaced… The result is, it is now sorted… I have my ‘Quiet’ car back.

I take back everything I said about the ‘Hankook Tyres’ … You could never imagine that such a slight, bearly audible dry bearing could cause so much noise!!!

Currently awaiting news on second hand diff prices…