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Wheel Bearing Noise: Is your Car Wheel Bearing bad?

You drive on a warm, sunny day and listen to your favorite song.

Life seems beautiful!

But suddenly, when you turn off the radio, you hear an unusual noise that coincides with the wheels’ rotation. 

What could this be?

Well, in such cases, a bad car wheel bearing could be one of the most common possibilities.

How does a Bad Wheel Bearing Sound Like?

Most people describe a lousy wheel bearing as a howling or hissing sound (the sound is often mistaken for worn tires). Also, in some cases, a bad bearing can make a high-pitched grinding or screaming sound.

Car Wheel Bearing

In both cases, the frequency of the sound corresponds to the rotation of the tires. The sound also increases with the increase in the vehicle’s speed (although it may pass at a certain point), and it is more detectable when your car turns in one direction.

How to tell if your car wheel bearing is bad

Your car has many rotating parts, making it difficult to distinguish a defective wheel from many other problems. Paying attention to when the noise occurs will help you to diagnose the issues.

Car Wheel Bearing

A faulty wheel bearing will only make noise while driving. So, if you hear a sound when the vehicle comes to a stop, you can dismiss considering the wheel bearings. It is also worth recognizing that it doesn’t matter what type of road travel you make; the wheel bearings’ noise will be the same.

However, tire noise usually varies with the road surface.

In most cases, you will hear a noisy wheel bearing, whether you are accelerating or decelerating. Contrarily, some drivetrain noises, but not all of them – change as you accelerate or decelerate.

It can be hard to distinguish a flawed wheel from other problems at the end of the day. It is, therefore, essential to perform additional diagnostic work before coming to the conclusions. Otherwise, there are chances that you replace the wheel bearing unnecessary without determining the real problem.

An important thing that you must be cognizant of is that not all faulty wheel bearings make noise. Some worn bearings exhibit excessive lateral movement without making abnormal noises.

How to check for bad wheel bearings

Many other problems mimic the sound of a bad car wheel bearing. You will need to perform additional diagnostic work to ensure that one of your car’s wheels is faulty.

Car Wheel Bearing

Some of the methods used to detect a bad wheel bearing include:

  • Check the play by shaking the wheel and tire set.
  • Check for roughness
  • Listening to noises using a stethoscope
  • Monitoring for overheating
  • Check play using the dial indicator.

Signs of wheel bearing failure

You already know that the wrong wheel bearing can cause noise. But did you know that this can cause other problems as well? A bad bearing can allow the wheel housing to move excessively. Besides, the internal bearing components increase friction. As a consequence, you might observe that your car has the following problems:

  • Whining/humming
  • Vibration while driving
  • Pulsation during braking
  • Irregular or abnormal tire wear
  • Illuminated warning lights
Car Wheel Bearing

Is it possible to drive on a bad wheel bearing?

You may be wondering if you can keep driving on a bad wheel bearing. And the answer is, “big NO.” In some cases, a failed bearing can result in the wheel’s loss while driving, which can lead to fatal consequences.

So, if you think you’ve heard noises due to bad wheel bearing, don’t forget to repair your vehicle right away. Your safety depends on it.

What can happen if you have a Faulty wheel bearing?

As mentioned above, if you neglect a bad car wheel bearing, you can lose the wheel. It is the worst-case scenario, but there are other unintended consequences.

Car Wheel Bearing

Bad wheel bearings can cause abnormal wear of the wheels, pulsation while driving, and even problems with the Anti-Lock Braking System.

So, once again, if you think you’ve got a bad wheel bearing, contact a mechanic right away or buy a spare bearing from The Auto Parts Shop and fix it yourself.

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Symptoms of bad Blower Motor Resistor

If the blower of your car has only 4 or 5 distinct speed settings, it is likely to use a simple electric resistor to control the speed of the fan. The resistor sets the electrical current limits so that the blower can operate at the right speed. If the resistor fails, the blower will only work in the selected speed settings in most cases.

There are also cases in which a blower motor of the car may not work.

Fortunately, you can check the condition of the part by blower motor resistor test. With just a multimeter, you can find out when it’s time to find another replacement.

Blower Motor Resistor Test

If you hear a blower fan running but can’t make it change its speed, you probably have a resistor problem. Here are some tips for testing the blower motor resistor:

  1. Start by looking at the blower fan resistor. The repair manual can tell you its placement according to the model and design of your car is.
  2. Check out the resistor visually. Look for obvious signs of rust and burns from overheating.
  3. Check the electrical resistance of each terminal resistor with a multimeter. Set up an ohms reading device (resistance measure) and connect one of its probes to the resistor’s common output terminal. Use another probe to measure the resistance between the terminal output and each input terminal of the resistor. Measure the resistance between one pair terminals at a time.
  4. If any of the points indicate constant resistance, the blower motor resistor fails. Endless reading defines an open circuit.
Blower Motor Resistor

Be careful when handling a blower resistor. As electric currents pass through the resistor for a long time, this device can create high temperatures – enough to heat your fingers or worse.

What is the Blower Motor Resistor?

The blower motor resistor is usually located outside the heat box or HVAC plenum that transmits air into the internal space. It is generally installed in HVAC control cables somewhere between the blower control knob and the blower motor.

Blower Motor Resistor

The resistor controls the blower motor’s fan speed and changes the air pressure generated by the blower fan movement. It does this by controlling the electric motor that powers the motor.

The function of the Blower Motor Resistor

The resistor restricts current, thus reducing the power output to control the blower motor speed setting.

More Current = More Speed

Less Current = Less Speed

The blower motor ensures that the right amount of power reaches the car, turning the fan at the right speed to blow air from the HVAC system to the chamber.

Blower Motor Resistor

It is also important to note that most cars have a circuit that exceeds the resistor when the blower motor is at high speed. In this case, the battery power is sent directly to the Blower motor.

Many modern cars have a mini-computer, called a blower motor control module, instead of a traditional resistor.

What Are the Signs of a Bad Blower Motor Resistor?

Every time you play with your car’s air-conditioning system or heating system, you change the current flowing through the blower motor resistor on the way to the blower motor.

A malfunctioning or failing motor resistor interferes with the proper operation of the heating and air system. The most common symptoms include:

  • The blower fan stands on a single speed setting.

A resistor can vary between speed settings depending on user preferences. However, resistor failure can cause the speed to stick to a single speed setting.

While the blower motor is still running, you cannot change its speed. It can be unpleasant in situations where you want to adjust your car’s internal temperature to a comfortable level.

A blower confined in a high-speed environment will always blow you up in hot or cold air when you don’t need it, while a one stuck in a low-key environment can be just as frustrating.

  • Blower fan cannot access specific speed settings.

In some cases, a failed resistor may set more than a one-speed setting. However, it may lose the ability to reach certain speeds. A blower motor will work well in the available settings, but it won’t work well if you choose a disabled speed setting.

Blower Motor Resistor

This sign is not limited to a bad blower motor resistor. A broken blower motor switch can also stop the blower from turning to specific speed settings. If your blower motor cannot switch to a certain speed, check both the resistor and your dashboard switch.

  • No air from vents

In most cases, due to the presence of the bypass circuit, the blower motor will continue to operate at high speeds with a failed resistor.

However, there are situations where a default resistor will prevent the current from reaching the blower motor ultimately. Without power, the motor will not work. As a result, the blower fan remains quiet and still, and there is no air coming out of the vents.

This symptom may also appear from a failed blower fan or several other issues. If the blower motor resistor test clears the resistor and wiring, the problem may lie in the fan’s motor.

Causes of Bad Blower Motor Resistor

Resistors go through rough situations. They always have electricity flowing between them, and the voltage supply can change dramatically as the car owner adjusts the power of the fan blower.

The most common reasons for the failure of a blower motor resistor can include:

  • Rust from prolonged exposure to air and moisture.
  • Overheating – if the motor finds it difficult to move due to the bearings’ malfunctioning, it can raise the resistor’s temperature to dangerous levels.
  • Normal wear out with time and usage.

 What is the cost of replacing a Blower Motor Resistor?

Blower Motor Resistor

You can still drive your car despite the fault of the blower motor resistor. However, you will probably find it uncomfortable if you are unable to change the blower’s speed.

Depending on the manufacturer and model, the blower motor resistor can go anywhere between $3 and $335 at The Auto Parts Shop. Replacement parts come in individual units, two sets of resistors, or a blower motor resistor kit.

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Causes and Signs of Bad Transfer Case

The transfer case is one of the essential components that differentiate the all-wheel-drive (AWD) and four-wheel drive (4WD).  Driving all four wheels provides higher traction, which improves performance in rugged terrain.  It is done by the transfer case, which allows the ability to move to the front and back wheels.

When you have a damaged transfer case, you will find that you may have a problem or cannot switch to AWD or 4WD.

So let us discuss the symptoms that you may experience when this component fails.

Symptoms of Bad Transfer Case

The transfer case is supposed to have delayed the vehicle’s life — but that did not always happen.  Here are the most common signs you may come across  when dealing with a bad transfer case:

  • Issues while changing gears

One sign of a bad transfer case is when you have trouble rotating between gear ranges.  Although the problem may arise from a different cause, such as a low fluid level or a damaged connection, it indicates the internal transfer case failure.

transfer case

However, before you think something is wrong, make sure you follow the instructions (in your master’s manual) for handling the transfer case.  Before switching to a four-wheel drive, the vehicle must be stopped and the transmission set to neutral. Contrarily, you will hear a cracking noise when trying to change gears.

  • Problem staying in 4WD

Another common problem is the transfer case in 4WD.  The issue may appear due to external influences (e.g., a problem with the differential or the driveshaft), or it may be due to the internal transfer case’s concern.

  • 4WD will not engage or disengage

There are many reasons why a 4WD car system will not engage or disengage.  The issue may be due to anything from operating an incorrect rotation on the front axle to an electrical error in the control system.

It is also possible that the transfer case has internal problems.

  • Greasy puddle directly under Transfer Case

The one and the only reason behind the formation of a greasy puddle under your car is a “leakage.”

And this leakage could be in a transfer case.

transfer case

Ensure the leak is coming from the transfer case by lifting your car and checking it visually.  It is easily recognizable in the back part of the transmission or transaxle assembly.

  • Growling, grinding, or humming noises

Another sign of trouble in your car is the presence of strange noises that usually do not occur.  Strange noises can be disturbing and alarming, and they almost always indicate that big problems are right in the corner.

If you hear a growling, grinding, or humming sound that changes with the vehicle’s speed, it may come from a transfer case.  The cause can be a low level of fluid or a mechanical problem, such as loose chain, poor bearings, or damaged gears.

  • Illuminating 4WD Warning Light
transfer case

Some cars have a “four-wheel-drive” message (or something similar) that appears on the steering wheel when there is a problem with the system.  Other vehicles will allow the 4WD light to illuminate the track to indicate a problem, which may be a poor transfer case.

Causes of an Inadequate Transfer Case?

Often, a transfer case will fail due to a low level of fluids(caused by leaks), lack of maintenance, or normal wear.

It is important to deal with fluid leaks quickly to avoid damaging the case.  Frequently changing the transfer case fluid is also important.  

Faulty Transfer Case or Transmission Issues?

The transfer case is a component of your vehicle’s drivetrain, just like transmission – and they both have their functions.  Despite this, symptoms of transmission failure may resemble those of poor transfer case.  It can sometimes lead to confusion for car owners trying to repair their car themselves.

To avoid any confusion, it is a good idea to have a car inspection from a professional if you suspect a transfer case problem. They will have the proper tools (and years of experience) to properly inspect your vehicle.

Can transmission be damaged with a bad transfer case?

There are cases where a transfer case’s failure can damage other parts of your vehicle, including transmission.  It is always advisable to address any known issues as soon as possible to avoid additional problems.

transfer case

Transfer Case

As previously mentioned, the transfer case is found on vehicles with AWD or 4WD power and allows drivers to switch to these operating modes.

  • 4WD Transfer Case

A typical 4WD transfer case is located behind the transmission, powered by a transmission output shaft, and works very well as a second transmission.

Most 4WD transfer cases have four operating modes:two-high, neutral, four-low, and four-high.  Because drivers only do 4WD when needed, this type of system is called “part-time” four-wheel drive.

The gear unit you want can work with a lever, engine vacuum, or in-vehicle electronics.

  • AWD Transfer Case

AWD systems are distributed to all four wheels without any input from the driver.  Most modern SUVs have AWD and a front-wheel drive-bias layout.  Vehicles with this design have a transaxle instead of a transmission.

The transfer case mounts to the transaxle side and distributes power to the rear differential and one of the front CV axles. You may also hear that people refer to this type of transfer case as part of a power transfer unit (PTU) or something similar.

Some cars have AWD and a rear-wheel-drive scale.  With this design, the transfer case is very much like the one found in a 4WD vehicle. The main difference is that the transfer case does not have multiple gear ranges for the driver to choose from.

That is why this type of setup is also known as full-time 4WD.

If you are looking for transfer case part types, visit The Auto Parts Shop.