How to Tell If Your Toyota Highlander Wheel Bearings are Bad (Plus Solutions)

Wheel bearings enable your car wheels to spin smoothly. But as the wheel bearings ages or becomes damaged, they can cause various issues, such as increased noise, vibrations, and decreased control while driving.

In that case, identifying these issues early on and addressing them promptly is crucial to avoid more severe problems and maintain the safety of your vehicle.

Some common symptoms of having bad wheel bearings in Toyota Highlander are increased road noise, driving vibration, or a grinding sound from the wheels. You should also check for any wear or damage on the wheel bearings, such as visible cracks or loose parts. If these issues are present, the wheel bearings should be replaced.

In this guide, we’ll discuss how to tell if your Toyota Highlander wheel bearings are bad plus solutions to run your vehicle safely and smoothly for years to come.

Understanding Wheel Bearings on Toyota Highlander

Wheel bearings on a Toyota Highlander are important components that allow the wheels to rotate smoothly. They are usually made of steel and consist of an inner and outer race, a set of balls, and a cage to hold them in place. The bearings are typically sealed to prevent contamination from dirt and moisture.

Over time, wheel bearings can wear out and cause various problems, such as noise, vibration, and uneven tire wear. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to have your Toyota Highlander inspected by a qualified mechanic.

How to Tell If Your Toyota Highlander Wheel Bearings are Bad?

Wheel bearings are designed to withstand a lot of wear and tear, but over time they can become damaged and worn out, leading to various issues that can impact your driving experience. Here are some common signs that your Toyota Highlander’s wheel bearings may be bad.

Unusual noises

One of the most common signs of a bad wheel bearing is a loud, persistent noise from the affected wheel. The noise may be a humming, whirring, or grinding sound that increases in volume as you accelerate. The noise may also change pitch or intensity as you turn or corner.


Another symptom of a bad wheel bearing is vibration or wobbling in the steering wheel. You may notice a shaking or shuddering sensation that increases as you drive at higher speeds.

Steering difficulty

If you’re having trouble steering your Toyota Highlander, it could signify that one or more of your wheel bearings is worn out. You may also notice that your steering feels stiff or unresponsive or that your vehicle pulls to one side.

Uneven tire wear

Worn out or damaged wheel bearings can also cause uneven tire wear. You may notice that the tires on the affected wheel are wearing down faster than the others or that there are bald spots or other signs of damage.

ABS light

If your Toyota Highlander has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), a bad wheel bearing can trigger the ABS light on your dashboard. This is because the wheel speed sensor may be affected by the damaged bearing, causing the system to malfunction.

Causes of Bad Wheel Bearing on Toyota Highlander

Wheel bearings are essential components in the smooth functioning of your Toyota Highlander. They allow the wheels to rotate smoothly, and when they become damaged, it can cause many problems. Here are some common causes of bad wheel bearings.

  • Overloading or Excessive Force: If your Toyota Highlander is overloaded or subjected to excessive force, such as during off-road driving, it can cause the wheel bearings to wear out more quickly.
  • Wear and Tear: One of the most common causes of bad wheel bearings is simply worn and tear. Over time, the bearings can become worn out, and the grease that lubricates them can dry up, causing them to overheat and fail.
  • Improper Installation: If the wheel bearings on your Toyota Highlander were not installed correctly, they might fail prematurely. The bearings need to be installed with the proper tools and tightened to the correct torque specifications.
  • Contamination: Wheel bearings can also become damaged by contamination. If dirt, water, or other debris gets into the bearings, it can cause them to wear out more quickly.
  • Lack of Maintenance: If your Toyota Highlander’s wheel bearings are not properly maintained, they can become damaged over time. Regular maintenance, including cleaning and lubricating the bearings, can help to prevent premature wear and extend the life of your bearings.

Solutions for Bad Wheel Bearings on Toyota Highlander

Bad wheel bearings on a Toyota Highlander can be reasons for annoying noises to safety hazards. For that, we’ve discussed some effective solutions for bad wheel bearings in your vehicle.

1. Replace the Wheel Bearings

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, your wheel bearings likely need to be replaced. A mechanic or a skilled DIYer can do this. The process involves removing the wheel, brake caliper, and rotor to access the hub assembly, which houses the wheel bearings. The old bearings are then removed and replaced with new ones before reassembling the components.

2. Check for Damage to Other Components

Bad wheel bearings can cause damage to other parts of the suspension system, such as the CV joints or tie rod ends. Therefore, inspecting these components for damage when replacing the wheel bearings is important. If damage is found, these parts will also need to be replaced.

3. Perform Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance can prevent issues with wheel bearings. This includes checking the condition of the bearings and ensuring that they are properly lubricated. So, you should keep the wheels properly aligned and balanced to prevent unnecessary stress on the bearings.

4. Upgrade to Higher Quality Bearings

In some cases, the original wheel bearings may not be of the highest quality, leading to premature wear and tear. Upgrading to higher-quality bearings can help prevent future issues. It is important to select bearings compatible with your Toyota Highlander and to ensure that they are properly installed.

Final Verdicts

Hopefully, you have figured out how to tell if your Toyota Highlander wheel bearings are bad. Typically, wheel bearings are a critical component of your vehicle’s suspension system and need to be replaced if they go bad.

Fortunately, various solutions are available to help you fix wheel bearing issues, including replacement, repair, and bearing seals. With the proper maintenance and repairs, you can ensure that your Toyota Highlander will stay on the road for many years to come.