Drivetrain Whirring

Easy step by step guide on how to locate an automotive drivetrain whirring noise, these steps are featured in order of popularity, though step may vary per application the process is the same.

Difficulty Level - 4

Begin with the vehicle on level ground safely lifted using jack stands and a basic set of tools while wearing protective gloves and safety eyewear.

Step 1 - A tire with a scalloped pattern will cause a whirring sound at speeds over about 40 mph and is caused by a combination of worn struts or shocks and or tire imbalance. To check for this condition, pass a hand over the tread, it should be relatively smooth, if high and low points exist, the tire is cupped and needs to be rotated or replaced depending on severity. Learn more

Tire Cupping

Step 2 - As an axle bearing fails it will create a grumble or whirring sound while driving. A quick way of checking for a failed axle bearing is to safely suspend the vehicle so there is no weight on the suspected tire-axle bearing, grab a hold of the tire with both hands and shake it back and forth (top to bottom), if the wheel seems loose further inspection is required. Learn more

New Axle Bearing

Step 3 - When the rear or front differential oil level is low or the gears, bearings have worn due to usage they can make a whirring noise, disassembled to inspect for metal shavings which is an indication of failure. Learn more

Differential Inspection


Written by
Co-Founder and CEO of
35 years in the automotive repair field, ASE Master Technician, Advanced Electrical and Mechanical Theory.


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