A growling sound coming from one of the wheels is a telltale symptom of a bad wheel bearing. Usually, the faster you drive, the worse it gets.
A bad wheel bearing can make a number of other unpleasant sounds. It might whine, hum, rumble, chirp, howl or squeal, and just like the growling sound, it typically gets louder as the vehicle accelerates. Also, if the noise changes when you’re turning, that’s another indication that it’s a bad wheel bearing.
Another sure sign of a bad wheel bearing is noticeable play in the tire, in both directions. If there’s no movement in the tie rod or the upper and lower ball joints, but there’s play in the tire, there’s a good chance you have a bad wheel bearing. If a wheel bearing IS the culprit, it’s important to have it replaced right away, because a bearing failure can cause the wheel or axle to dislodge from the vehicle (video sponsored by BCA Bearings).