Model S

Faint Helicopter Noise / Possible Wheel Bearing Replacement?

edited November -1 in Model S
Hi All,

I have a 2015 Model S with 104K total miles on it. RWD with 85KWH battery and staggered 21" Pilot SS tires on arachnid wheels. Recently I'm noticing a kind of faint "helicopter" like sound, especially when cruising at low speed. I took it in for service recently and the team just quickly looked it over and said everything seems fine but the noise persists. I have new rear tires that I got recently. Fronts still have some meat on them.

- Has anyone observed a similar noise with their vehicle?
- Has anyone had to replace their wheel bearings and if so when?
- Any tips on how to tell if the noise may be tire related, wheel bearing, or something else?



  • edited January 30
    One thing to check is if one of your tires has a bolt or nail that has embedded into the tread. Sometimes even a small rock can wedge into the tread and make such a noise.
  • edited November -1
    I had the same exact thing happen to me on my staggered setup after i replaced only rear tires. I thought i had a noisy wheel bearing as well and a service center tech did a test ride with me and he agreed thats what it sounded like but apparently its extremely rare for a bad wheel bearing in a Tesla. They found some slight scalopping on the inside edge of the tires even though the rest of the tire had about 5/32. New front tires and an alignment and it was taken care of.
  • edited January 31
    Does it sound like a car with window down and wind pulsating? Like mild pulsating bass?

    Or more like metallic?
    edited November -1
    The frequency of wheel bearing noise will increase with road speed, not stay constant, and is usually not present at lower speeds (typically absent below 30 mph unless the wheel bearing is totally fubar. And any decent tech would hear that). Wheel bearings also react to changes in load. A right turn lightens the load on the right side and a failing right side wheel bearing will usually quiet down. If you are not noticing any change in volume with changing side load then it is probably not a wheel bearing. If the noise is still present with no torque on the drivetrain (coasting in neutral/0 Kw usage on a hill) then tires are the most likely source.
  • edited November -1
    Thanks all for the replies. Appreciate it.

    It sounds like a wind pulsating noise.

    Brought it by service again and had another tech listen to it. He doesn't think it's the wheel bearing or drive unit. Likely an issue with a tire so they'll inspect and re-balance them all and then see what happens.
  • edited January 31
    If there’s a wheel out if balance, it could be the trunk lid pulsing.
  • edited November -1
    Out of
  • edited January 31
    @Techguy817 - BH reminded me, if it only happens with a window open, the trunk lid if not adjusted correctly, it will create a low-frequency thumping as the trunk vibrates slightly up and down. My guess the tech is aware of this issue, and would have known if that was the issue or not.
  • edited November -1
    It can happen with the windows closed if the balance is off far enough.
  • I am having an issue with a sound that is like described. I have read several threads now on wheel noises. I put on a set of 21” staggered wheels and tires today and noticed at low speeds while accelerating there was a helicopterish noise. Windows up or down and it sounds like it is coming from the rear driver side. Wheels were mounted, balanced, shipped to me and I installed. Seems like it would be related to new wheels and tires but they were balanced. I have had balancing issues before on other cars and it was nothing like this. Just looking for anyone who resolved something similar.
  • Have your tires checked for out of round. You may also be experiencing early tread separation on one tire. Another thing to check is for small rocks stuck in the tread. I once had a flat rock stuck in the outer tread and because the car is so quiet it drove me nuts until I parked one day so that I saw it. I pried it out and the noise went away. Sometimes it’s simple stuff.
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