Diagnosing a wheel bearing noise should be done through the process of elimination starting with the inspection of suspension system of the car; if the suspension system is functioning properly, the tires can be checked and the it can be determined that the wheel bearings are the problem if the tires are working properly. A wheel bearing noise is most commonly not a result of a bad wheel bearing, but is the result of a bad suspension or tires.
The noise that a bad wheel bearing makes sounds like a click or a groan while the other problems cause sounds that are similar to a grinding sound. To test the suspension, the ball joints should be inspected. If there is orange dust on the joints, the suspension is the culprit of the problem. If the tires are the suspected problem that is causing a noise similar to a wheel bearing noise, they can be rotated to different positions on the vehicle. If noise continues after the tires have been rotated, it can be deducted that the wheel bearing is the issue. If the noise does not continue or moves to a different area on the vehicle, the tires are the problem and they need to be replaced.