Rubbing Noise From Front Wheel When Driving – What Could it Mean?

The rubbing noise in your front wheels could mean one of the following possibilities:

  • The metallic material in the brake pad is scraping against something.
  • The wheel bearings or cv joints might need to be inspected.
  • One of these parts is failing: the brake caliper, rotor, or pad.
  • A tire may be going bad.

When you think any of these could be the cause of the noise, take your car to a mechanic.

Continue reading this article so you can have a deeper understanding of your rubbing noise issue, but remember that no online advice can ever replace an inspection by a qualified mechanic. The information on this site, as always, is for educational and entertainment purposes only.

Close up shot of a front wheel driving on the road, Rubbing Noise From Front Wheel When Driving - What Could it Mean?

Symptoms of Bad Brakes

You don't necessarily have to hear noises to wonder if your brakes are having problems. Sometimes you can feel them while you drive.

One example would be when your brakes respond slower than they should when you press on the brake pedal: that's evidence of worn brake pads.

Another example is when you feel like the brakes keep braking or pulling on their own.

The braking system has many components that all work together. When you begin to hear noises, you'll want to examine one of these brake parts to find the problem as each part has its symptoms. Those parts are the:

  • Caliper
  • Pad
  • Rotor
  • Hose/fluid

What Does a Bad Brake Caliper Sound Like?

Cleaning car brake pad and disc with caliper

On the front wheels of basically every car are discs called calipers. The job of the caliper is to clench onto the rotor and cause deceleration of the vehicle.

It's one of the more exposed components of the braking system. Road debris, deicing salt, and excessive or rapid braking can cause wear and tear quicker than usual.

Corrosion is also, but unlikely, a cause of a failing caliper. This is only an issue when you let your car sit for too long.

Your calipers will not release the rotor as smoothly as they should, causing your vehicle to pull in one direction. Regular driving will prevent this from being a possibility.

When the calipers begin going bad, you'll hear it whenever you're braking. This means that a bolt is loose, which causes a rubbing or rattling noise. However, you could also hear this when small debris finds its way inside.

What Does a Bad Brake Rotor Sound Like?

Car brakes skeleton view

Car owners often overlook brake rotors since they mostly look at the brake pads (more on that later). However, the rotors are just as important. Rotors are large discs inside a wheel; they are the parts that brake pads press down on to stop the wheels from spinning.

Failing brake rotors are often caused by rapid stopping, riding on the brakes, or using the brakes when another brake component isn't performing right. This will lead to longer braking distance, which is dangerous.

Sounds you may hear when the brake rotor is going bad will be heard when braking. Those sounds include squeaking, grinding, or squealing noises. You'll also feel vibrations while driving.

Squeaking noises aren't a super urgent issue until it turns into grinding noises; then, you need to go to a mechanic as soon as possible. Once the grinding noise appears, you'll begin to feel a wobble when driving.

What Does a Bad Brake Pad Sound Like?

Set of brake pads on a mirror

As mentioned earlier, brake pads press on rotors as part of the braking process. To get a look at your car's pads, turn the wheel as far to the right or left as possible.

According to Cars Direct, at least one-fourth of the pad should be visible for it to be considered in good condition. Any less than that means you should get new pads soon.

The pad puts pressure on the rotor, and over time, it'll wear out. The key indicator that your car's brake pads are wearing out is when you hear a squeak when coming to a stop. Another sign is when your brakes overheat.

Cars equipped with ABS, or Anti-lock braking system, will let you know when something involving your brakes is wearing out.

Do your best to get that problem remedied sooner than later, because not only are your brakes at risk, but the ABS sensors could mess up as well.

What Does a Bad Tire Sound Like?

Close up shot of a front wheel driving on the road

The inner components of a tire beyond the braking system can have their issues, too. It's attached to axle, bearings, and CV (constant velocity) joints. When a tire goes bad, you'll hear a grinding noise while driving.

Two likely reasons are because of wheel bearing issues or bad CV joints.

Wheel bearings are metal circles held in a ring; it reduces friction when the wheel spins. You'll know that the wheel bearing is bad when you feel a vibrating noise, and it increases as your speed increases. The car will start pulling in a direction you didn't intend to go.

CV joints transfer power from the engine to the wheels. You have a bad CV joint when you hear a clunking noise in the tire when making a turn.

Can Under-inflated Tires Make Noise?

Refer to your owner's manual to know the correct tire pressure for your car's tires. Over or underfilling your tires can cause a treading sound. With under-inflated tires, you may hear a humming noise.

Make sure your tires are correctly filled. Failing to do so can cause the tire to wear faster. It can also cause wheel misalignment, which may lead to more significant problems later on.

Wrap Up

Photo taken inside a car at a beautiful road. A hand holding a steering wheel.

As important as it is to keep up with maintenance with the engine, keeping up with brake maintenance is equally important. It can often be ignored since brake wear and tear depends on how aggressively you use it.

The instant you start hearing rubbing noises, especially from the front tires, inspect your pads and rotors.

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  1. i hear rubbing sound from my front breaks only at slow stops not all the time just once in a while any answers?

    • @mike, I have the same problem. We just had the front axle replaced and the sound STILL came back. When you get an answer, please let me know. Also, there are NEW tires on the car.

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