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Is It Just a Defective Hub Bearing or Wheel Speed Sensor? 
By: Mighty Auto Parts | Monday, January 8th, 2018 at 7:58 pm in Preventive Maintenance, Tech Tips, Tires/TPMS

Is It Just a Defective Hub Bearing or Wheel Speed Sensor? 

Noise coming from the wheels, an illuminated malfunction indicator lamp, antilock brake-related symptoms, traction control issues, or transmission-related symptoms are all indicators of potential vehicle problems. But did you know, each of these vehicle warnings could occur with hub bearing or wheel speed sensor failure?  It is always important when having your vehicle inspected for repair to eliminate all possible potential failures.  The last thing you’d want to do is to repair a transmission when it’s only the hub or wheel bearings, replacing a defective wheel speed sensor. Seems unlikely, but we promise, it has happened.

So how does damaged occurring to the hub or wheel bearings? Some hub bearing assemblies contain internal wheel speed sensors while others use external sensors. Some of the problems that can arise and cause damage to the sensors include:

  • Excessive bearing end play
  • Corrosion, affecting the air gap spacing and weakening the sensor’s signal strength
  • Road debris blocking the sensor, rendering it inoperative or causing mechanical damage
  • Particles of metallic debris attached to a wheel speed sensor magnetic encoder ring
  • Contaminated wheel speed sensors

If there is debris, the last thing you want to do is use a magnetic tool to remove it. This can damage the encoder ring. Rather, remove the debris with a soft bristle brush or use a mild detergent to wash the decoder ring. Sometimes removing the hub bearing is necessary to ensure a thorough cleaning, but your trusted auto shop and technician can take care of this easily.

While wheel bearings are designed to last for many miles, the fact is they can still fail for various reasons due to normal wear and tear on your vehicle. When diagnosing symptoms that may indicate trouble with the hub bearing or wheel speed sensor, the technician should focus first on the possibility that it’s a defective wheel speed sensor, wiring, or contamination affecting the sensor signal before other options are considered. That means make sure you take your vehicle in for thorough diagnostics, and making sure line graph diagnostics are performed on each wheel speed sensor and compared to other sensor signals.  To read more about hub bearing inspections click.

Mighty Auto Parts partners with more than 12,000 repair facilities, from independents to large multi-bay specialty shops and tire centers. High-quality OEM parts, personalized local service, and familiar faces that say, “We’re in this together,” make Mighty the dependable partner to the thousands of owners, corporations, and professional automotive repair shops that we serve across the United States. To learn more about how we can keep your car in top running condition with the highest-quality parts, visit us at Mighty Auto Parts today!

7 responses to “Is It Just a Defective Hub Bearing or Wheel Speed Sensor? ”

  1. JACK WADEL says:

    Strange nioses from car. Missing a few pulses.Corridinating, all speed sensors, (8)TCM,and ECU up, 2004 Saturn 3.0 clearing a few glitches, August 14,2021.

  2. David says:

    2006 Honda Pilot has loss of communication past 30 mph with abs modules. Honda recommends changing the module but I believe that the wheel bearings in the front of the vehicle are both bad and I’m thinking that that may be most of the problem there? 🤷

  3. Elvia Vega says:

    Thank you for the suggestion!

  4. Mike says:

    Is it normal to have oil on the enteral part of the speed sensor

  5. Elvia Vega says:

    Thank you for the question, Mike! If you’re referring to a Vehicle Speed Sensor (VSS), it is common for gear oil to be present as the sensor is located in the gearbox. Symptoms of a malfunctioning VSS may include erratic (rough) shifting of gears, speedometer inaccuracies, or a check engine light. If any of these symptoms exist, it would be recommended to have the vehicle inspected by a specialist.

  6. Alexander Forbight says:

    2018 Sonata Limited left wheel speed sensor went bad. I replaced the entire assembly by myself. One nut needed special wrench to get at other than standard wrench. Now the right front went bad. I am thinking that something inside of the assembly that got exposure to the elements is the issue. I will take both apart and see if I can find a problem that can be cleaned. Hyundai must correct these sensors going bad with their vehicles under 40,000 miles like mine and driven in good climate conditions.

  7. Elvia Vega says:

    Thank you for sharing, Alexander!

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