The short answer is yes, bad tires can cause a humming sound. But normally customers think there is some other major root cause…like a wheel bearing, or a drive axle, or a CV joint going bad. These indeed are causes that can create a humming noise…but, more often than not, it is the tires.
Can Bad Tires Cause a Humming Sound?
If the humming sound is constant and never seems to change, then it is indeed likely one of the other items. Some unscrupulous tire companies have even be known to intentionally set the tire pressure wrong or make the tires out of balance in order for you to need tires faster.
But wheels do need to be rebalanced from time to time as a normal maintenance, depending on how rough your roads are and if the condition of your shocks and alignment are poor.
Uneven tire wear is the most common cause of humming noise from the tires, especially on our customers cars like the BMWs, MINIs and Audis. Weak rear shocks (especially on front wheel drive cars like the MINI and Audi models), wheel alignment issues, improper tire pressure and other problems can cause wear that creates a humming sound when you drive. If the tires have worn oddly with weird patterns (humming most often comes from the rear tires “cupping”, a high and low pattern in the rubber that causes a change in the surface area that touches the road. This wear will most often occur on the inner edge…a place that is often hard to see or detect, and a casual review of your tire wear may not make this issue jump out at you, but it is likely there. Take a very close look at the inner area of the tire (the 1 -1 1/2” inner tread area), and feel the surface as you rub your hand around the perimeter of the tire tread. The tire may also look smoother in this area than the other areas of the tread. Another diagnostic test is to move the rear tires to the front and the front tires to the rear (if you have symmetric tires sizes front and rear (meaning the same size)), you can diagnose the likely cause of the wear by looking at the tread.
If you detect this uneven wear pattern, you have a couple of decisions to make. First, to eliminate the noise, and if you want to maximize your tread life, moving the rear tires to the front and vice versa should eliminate the noise for a while. However, sooner than later, you will need to now replace all four tires with a new set of tires. If you’re not sure, you can always have us check it out…a quick visual exam is usually all it takes.
If it is not the tires, then the exam and road test should point out what other issue is present. A bad wheel bearing is also the cause of a noise that will sound as if it’s coming from the tires. But it is less of a humming noise and more of a high-pitched squeak or grinding noise. This issue needs to be fixed right away. If not fixed, it could allow the wheel bearing to get so hot from internal friction that it could seize.
Get It Checked Out
Don’t let concern anxiety drive you nuts…just stop by and ave one of our techs at BRracing perform a quick exam – your tires and check some things like wheel bearings, wheel rims, brakes, the tire wear patterns and balancing. We’ll figure out the cause quickly. Drive safe.
BRracing – expertise whenever you need it.