Vibrations and Humming from Front Wheels

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by FtbChrisBs, Oct 21, 2019.

  1. FtbChrisBs

    FtbChrisBs New Member

    Hello everyone,

    I have had my wonderful Grey Honda Clarity for almost 2 years. Last week, I began to hear this vibration and humming noise, I suspected it to be he electric motor.

    After taking it in to my Honda Dealer/Service Department, they noted "impact" damages around the undercarriage and specifically the wheel bearings and hubs. I live and drive in the San Francisco Bay Area and I have not lowered my car.

    My car does scrape from time to time on bumps but those are rare and far between. However, my driveway into my home sometimes cause my car to scrape. This occurs a few times a week and has been doing so since I've had the car. I have serviced the car a total of five times due to the recalls and the routine A1, oil change and tire rotations, every 6-7k miles.

    The service department believes the impact would not be warrantable but my case for them is that even if a repair, this won't prevent the car from scraping on some inclining driveways.
    My biggest fear is that they won't considered it warrantable, I'll pay out of pocket and eventually have to do so again in the future.

    Has anyone had experiences with this?

    I have seen on various forums about how the wheel bearings have needed replacing event early in its lifecycle, but I am unsure how to proceed
  2. Sandroad

    Sandroad Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Given what's been reported on this forum and your description of symptoms, it's extremely likely to a wheel bearing. I hope the dealer does not block getting it replaced under warranty. Get a second opinion if necessary.
  3. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    Red flag. I would like to see the exact wording of the service ticket on this issue.

    If you are interpreting and relaying what they are telling you correctly, I would immediately ask them to put the car on a lift and point to the wheel bearings and hubs, and show you exactly where the impact point/visible damage is on these two parts. BTW this is absolutely a trick question. The bearings and hubs are 100% encapsulated by the wheels when the wheels are installed, and it is not physically possible for ANYTHING to physically impact them when the wheels are can hardly even see the parts deep in the wheels from the inside. And this is where they go can't actually SEE the impact damage ON those particular parts, causing denial of warranty?

    OK, then if you can't see any impact damage on the parts, then how do you know the impact damage is there on those particular parts?

    Counterpoint: If they are pointing out impact points like a bunch of hard curb rash on your WHEELS? They might have a valid warranty denial. Curbing a wheel pretty hard can indeed bend/damage a bearing and hub, and for this reason it might not be a warranty situation. Are your wheels all banged up from hitting curbs? If yes I might side with the dealer, and I might suspect vibration caused by slightly bent wheel or hub. But this is without troubleshooting or driving the car. Before dispute goes too far take it to another shop (ideally another Honda dealer) for a 2nd professional opinion, that will have much more teeth than you working alone, or anything someone on the internet advises.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
    Lowell_Greenberg likes this.
  4. FtbChrisBs

    FtbChrisBs New Member

    Here are some pictures from the issue. Charged me 199 for the diagnostic to look and tell me no warranty.

    craze1cars your suggestions have great merit.
    Exact wording on ticket
    "Customer states 15 mph+ engine makes humming noise
    check and advise
    verified customer complain. signs of impact to front subframe
    test drove vehicle and loud humming noise apparent after rotation of tires.
    rec to replace front hubs and wheel bearings
    rec to do alignment"

    One of my good car guru friends also noted that if my alignment is not off, tire wear can indicate, damage to wheel bearings should be non-existant

    Attached Files:

    • 1.jpg
      File size:
      84.3 KB
    • 2.jpg
      File size:
      41.9 KB
    • 3.jpg
      File size:
      38.2 KB
    • 4.jpg
      File size:
      45 KB
  5. Sandroad

    Sandroad Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Ack! $199 to diagnose! I don’t see any reason those frame hits would damage a wheel bearing. They must make more money having the customer pay instead of warranty pay. Get it to another dealer or open a case with Honda.
  6. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    Well... Now that I’ve seen the photos of the impact points? I’ve changed my mind. I’ll be shocked if you can get this warranted. That subframe has taken a big hit. I do disagree with their diagnostic and repair approach, but I do believe your entire subframe needs to be replaced first to ensure your suspension points are still in the correct locations. That plus alignment is step one. Then test drive and if noise is still there, they’ll continue diagnosing or throwing parts at the problem until it’s fixed. If your subframe took a hit that hard it’s possible your wheels/tires took a hit that hard, bending something else like lower control arms. And bearings could be flat spotted which would cause a noise but is not possible to see. Too many variables and this could get terrifyingly expensive. If I were you I would just file an insurance claim and pay your collision deductible. You have a fully legit insurance claim, and with photos like that Honda has all the proof they need to deny any warranty service. They’ll just use the photos to prove you’ve had an accident.

    Sorry to deliver the news but I handled situations like this as an insurance adjuster for a 25 year career and that’s the way I see this best playing out for you. If it actually needs hub/bearing assemblies, or anything else driveline related, insurance will pick that all up as part of the claim as well. Plus all the torn up plastic shields under there.

    And while $199 diagnostic for this is indeed robbery, give that receipt to your insurance company and they’ll apply it toward your deductible as part of the claim.

    I believe you’re going to have a fruitless and frustrating time, if you continue to pursue this thru Honda. Save all that headache and just call your insurance company and eat your deductible.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
    KentuckyKen and Lowell_Greenberg like this.
  7. Sandroad

    Sandroad Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Amazing! That looked like some paint scraped off and torn plastic undercover to me. Something that might have happened at a parking curb that was in inch too high and scuffed up the metal without bothering the wheels. I went out and found plastic scuffing and some paint scraped on my own Clarity in those spots from the curbs at the dog walk park. Wouldn’t the driver have felt a big impact if the hit was hard enough to damage the sub-frame? If it was my car, I’d still get a second opinion from another dealer and I’d be tempted to start with an alignment and a new wheel bearing. (Unless of course i knew I’d hit something really hard, in which case I’d be calling insurance.)
  8. FtbChrisBs

    FtbChrisBs New Member

    My issue here is that if there was a huge impact, the waving in the sub-frame doesn't really support a large scale issue. In addition, the sound is only coming from the front left bearing as opposed to both. Scraping was shown almost evenly on both sides.

    In addition, my alignment was not damaged and still drives without wobbling. The only issue is the noise and possible continuous damage.

    The dealer did not open the wheel well or remove the hub to check for bearing damage but assumed impact caused the damage. I noted that I scrape regularly but did not cause any issues until now. More importantly if I fix, wouldn't I end up having the same issues unless I repave my driveway.

    In addition, isn't there some merit trying to get warranty since I wouldn't be paying to file a claim, whereas insurance would surely be more expensive although more expedient.

    And if I claimed insurance, would I be placed at fault? This seems to make more trouble for my finances and insurance
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
  9. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    I see dents, not just scrapes. Do I even see holes worn clear thru the metal on one of the blurry pics? I can’t tell. If just scraped I retract what I said earlier.

    As for whether to file warranty or insurance? Warranty obviously if they pay. But if you can’t get them to 100% of the responsibility for diagnostic and paying for repairs while a shop tries to chase these problems down falls on you. In the end they decide it’s “the electric motor” as you initially speculated? Many many thousands of dollars.

    By all means if you are able to get them to pay warranty on this, you should. I’m simply advising I find it doubtful you’ll get Honda to agree. I do think if you want to go that route you’re smarter to start over with a different Honda dealer and hope they look the other way when they see that damage and don’t report it to Honda with the claim. But you already have one dealer who noted what they did and saw on your VIN. So will Honda notice if a different dealer now tries to push warranty claim when another dealer called it impact damage? Another wild card. You can try escalating thru Honda. Almost everyone who has ever attempted this in my experience has gotten nowhere. Honda is not known for being customer friendly in escalated claims.

    Yes if you make an insurance claim it’s on you...nobody else could be at fault here. This is the sort of thing insurance is for and every insurance company handles this differently. Some have first accident forgiveness clauses, etc. I don’t know your circumstances.

    FWIW there is no “inspection” of a bearing that will tell whether it’s bad or not. They have to just throw parts at it and see if the noise goes away. So I can’t fault them for not pulling a wheel/hub and trying to look at it closer like you wanted them to. It would look fine and could still be defective or damaged, and they would charge yet more for the mechanics time to accomplish nothing. So they are indeed guessing at the cheapest parts first, as any mechanic would do with this sort of noise. Maybe they’re right and maybe not. I’d prefer to risk insurance company’s open checkbook instead of mine if it continues as an expensive guessing game.

    I certainly wish you alll the best. Just sharing my experiences and my thoughts so you don’t get fully blindsided if this doesn’t all go your way.

    FWIW if you do decide to file an insurance claim, I strongly advise you tell them it was a one time impact that caused this...going over a big curb or whatever. You didn’t realize it was damaged until noise started, then dealer saw impact damage on a lift. This is a routine claim. But do not tell them this is from scraping your own driveway several times a week over two years, or they may also take a stance and deny the claim as wear and tear that built up over time.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
  10. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    I’m also a little unclear, have you clearly and directly asked this dealer to file a warranty claim for the bearings they suggest replacing? And have they clearly told you no they will not file a warranty claim?

    If not, make sure you are very clear with them that you feel this is warranty, and you’d like them to file a warranty claim. Refer to my first reply on this thread for arguments, and the fact that these impact points on a subframe do not mean the bearing were impacted. If they still decline to present a warranty claim and dig their heels in that you have non-warranty impact damage, then I see 4 true options:

    1. Escalate to a Honda customer service and complain about this dealer.
    2. Try again with a different Honda dealer.
    3. File an insurance claim and tell them you must have hit something hard enough to cause subframe damage because dealer found this problem.
    4. Pay out of your pocket for all repairs you’d like attempted.

    Choose your poison. Not sure what other options you have.

    And I just have to say i really do think driveway repairs or some sort of parking adjustment is warranted. If it’s scraping multiple times per week and is tearing up your car like this, it’s worth fixing the root problem IMO, or this could repeat again somehow.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
    MrFixit likes this.
  11. Lowell_Greenberg

    Lowell_Greenberg Active Member

    Do you think the Clarity has a reliability/design issue with respect to wheel bearings? There have been multiple issue reports on this forum- and we know the Clarity is about 600lbs heavier than an Accord. While impact damage and driving conditions can be a key cause, I wonder if the threshold is too low.

    Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
  12. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    I feel there are nowhere near enough samples on this forum to draw any conclusions. Early bearing failure is relatively common on many vehicles. They’re precision machined parts and one subtle mfr flaw can make a ton of noise in short time. All mfrs balance price per unit against failures per unit and choose a bearing supplier. Only Honda can know this answer, and it will never be public.
  13. MrFixit

    MrFixit Well-Known Member

    An interesting and understandable article on wheel bearings HERE

    Among other things it discusses the symptoms of bearing failure and the fact that bearings are NOT zero maintenance. The recommendation is to check the bearings every 25,000 to 35,000 miles. The average expected life of a bearing is 85,000 to 100,000 miles. The article also mentions that bearings should be replaced in pairs because the 'good' side has experienced the same wear and tear as the bad side. Most people (myself included) totally ignore the bearings until there are symptoms and by then, it is a lost cause.

    It is also important that the bearings be installed and lubricated correctly. There is usually a prescribed procedure to preload the bearing that is subject to human error. Inadequate preload results in excessive play, and too much preload results in excessive wear, either of which causes premature failure. This is partly why I was trying to see if there was a 'trend' that showed that the right front bearing was failing more often than the left, but as @craze1cars point out, there is WAY too little data just from the forum to conclude anything.

    Honda is certainly tracking this kind of failure and they will see if it is excessive. The hope is that if there is a design or manufacturing issue with the bearings, that they will respond accordingly with a safety recall / fix.

    My instinct is that the extra weight of this vehicle vs. an Accord is inconsequential in its effect on bearing life.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2019
    Lowell_Greenberg likes this.
  14. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    Modern sealed bearing assemblies are far less expensive to just throw away and replace on a modern car than it is to attempt any maintenance on them. And there is no preloading or such things anymore either. You run them till they fail, then replace. Last car I owned with serviceable and adjustable wheel bearings was a 1974 Monte Carlo...

    Trailers still have them though.
  15. MrFixit

    MrFixit Well-Known Member

    Showing my age :(... Are the rear bearings sealed too?
  16. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    Yup. Bearing maintenance on cars is a thing of the past. Thats why you’ll never see them mentioned on any maintenance schedules anywhere. Truth is most last the life of the car....200k is not uncommon. But if one has a subtle manufacturing flaw they may quit early...very early usually.
  17. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    Photos of typical front and rear bearing and hub assemblies in link below. Installs with 4 bolts along with a tight press fit into the knuckle, often need a slide hammer to break them loose from knuckle after the bolts are removed. Relatively easy to swap out and generally cheap to buy. The bearing itself is pressed into these assemblies and you can’t do anything to adjust or re grease. On some you can replace bearing only but it would require a hydraulic press to do it:

    these are NOT for Clarity, but I’m sure Clarity looks about the same...
    neal adkins likes this.
  18. MrFixit

    MrFixit Well-Known Member

    Well, I do still have a trailer (and a couple of tractors too).
    If I want to reminisce about the old times by re-packing and pre-loading my bearings, I can still do it there !
    MPower and craze1cars like this.
  19. neal adkins

    neal adkins Active Member

    It's very common for every warranty issue to be scrutinized. Its the modus operandi of everyone i deal with. I've seen this over and over again. The burden of proof is a 2 way street. You shouldn't nessacarily need to prove the scraping didn't cause the damage to a wheel bearing/hub that is engineered to absorb impacts. In my case they wouldn't cover my frontend alignment on my 6 month old clarity because thier was evidence of scrapes on the inside of my rims. Turns out that was caused by the rails at the carwash. The dealers exercises thier sence of superiority to make you feel foolish to question thier percieved infallible take on the situation. I say fight it and show them who is boss. After seeing the photos i agree that there was obviously repeated impact. But what that has to do with directly causing a wheel bearing failure is a mystery to me because the bearing doesnt take a direct hit. The frame does. So a second opinion is in order. I could be wrong but they seem to look for ways to avoid warranty claims and give themselves the benefit of the doubt.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2019
  20. Tek_Freek

    Tek_Freek Active Member

    If all else fails call your local news station and see if they will pursue the story. Most have someone on their staff who's job is doing this.
    neal adkins likes this.

Share This Page