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Womp Womp Tire Noise: 14 Causes & Fix

Tire-related issues can often create weird noises that leave drivers puzzled. One such enigma is the womp womp tire noise. That rhythmic or irregular thumping sound disrupts the tranquility of an otherwise well-planned, highly-anticipated drive. In this guide, we’ll address what causes the womp womp tire noise and offer practical solutions.

The womp womp tire noise usually stems from tire-related inconsistencies, out-of-spec cold-tire pressure, damage caused by foreign objects, and continued use of worn components. Regular inspection, proper upkeep, and conscientious driving habits help keep most of these problems at bay.

Here are common causes of a womp womp tire noise:

  1. Inappropriate Wheel Alignment
  2. Uneven Tire Patterns
  3. Deformed Wheel
  4. Tire-Belt Separation
  5. Inflation Issues
  6. Imbalanced Tires
  7. Debris-Related Damage
  8. Sidewall Bulging
  9. Stone Trapping
  10. Axle or CV Joint Problems
  11. Faulty Wheel Bearings
  12. Brake Rotor Issues
  13. Worn Suspension Parts
  14. Loose or Worn Calipers

Determining what triggers that loud tire noise at highway speeds or when cornering is easier than you might think. All it takes is familiarity with root cause indicators and a watchful eye. Once spotted, these aggressors can be resolved with parts replacement or tire servicing — as you’ll soon discover in this article.

Mechanic Holding Car Tire

What Is a Womp Womp Tire Noise?

Engine Diary defines the womp womp tire noise (or wump wump) as sounds caused by an uneven or cracked tire surface and the surface type you’re driving on. It could also be from rotor runout or warped rotors. I find this interesting as it differs from most online blog definitions. Plus, it hints at tire damage and warped rotors from the get-go.

But the question is, “Are these two the only causes of the womp womp noise?”

Well, for spoilers, the answer is “No” — and you’ll soon learn why in the subsequent sections.

What Causes Womp Womp Tire Noise?

I could have selected a more technical definition of the womp womp noise. However, gaining insight into the underlying causes of this unusual noise makes for a better understanding of the issue. Many car owners often confuse the “womp womp” noise as tire humming or some other ‘more common’ sound. Hence, sticking to definitions wouldn’t necessarily help with the matter at hand.

Although this is the prevailing sentiment in most online forums, there are also some good takeaways. For one, there are at least 15 potential causes of the womp womp noise (whereas initially, I only planned on discussing five).

Also, several of these culprits aren’t limited to a particular driving scenario and can manifest in two or more situations. So, for clarity, I have categorized them based on the driving situations where they tend to be most prevalent.

When Turning

Inappropriate Wheel Alignment

This can result in uneven tire wear, particularly along the tire edges. Furthermore, driving a vehicle with misaligned wheels will force relevant components to corrode away much faster. This, in turn, substantially shortens the average lifespan of your tires while also unintentionally increasing the risk of harm to suspension parts.

When you navigate a turn with your wheels in this state, the lateral forces acting on your tires emphasize this irregular wear, causing a rhythmic or erratic womp womp noise. This noise becomes most pronounced during turns due to the heightened impact of forces on your knobbies.

Uneven Tire Patterns

Irregular tire treads (often caused by excessive or uneven wear) are another factor that can give rise to the womp womp sound, particularly when making turns. During turning, the tires encounter varying lateral forces, and if the tread is uneven or exhibits specific wear patterns, it can create this kind of noise as the tread interfaces with the road.

Depending on the tread designs, the air within the tread patterns is compressed to varying degrees. However, if the noise becomes overly pronounced to be noticeable while driving, it could be problematic if you continue using these tires. It’s also worth noting that the friction produced by irregular tread wear generates a sound akin to wind noise when you drive — hence, it may not always be characterized by ‘womps.’

Deformed Wheel

When your wheels are damaged to the point of losing their roundness, the likelihood of generating the womp womp tire noise increases. This particular damage can manifest as a subtle bend in the wheel’s barrel or a more substantial dent in the outer rim portion.

Damage to the rim’s outer edge is often readily visible. However, significant damage to the inner lip might go unnoticed unless you feel it through the steering wheel. Minor bends typically do not produce any unusual noise. However, bent wheels can generate sounds akin to a tire-belt separation when the damage is severe.

Tire-Belt Separation

Tire-belt separation is a concerning issue in which the steel belts within the tire carcass start to detach from the rubber. During turns, the lateral forces exerted on the tires can trigger these separated steel belts to shift or deform, resulting in the distinct womp womp sound. This noise is often characterized as rhythmic thumping or drumming, with its prominence heightened when the vehicle’s weight shifts during turns.

Common causes of belt separation or a broken tire belt include encounters with potholes and curb strikes. While the damage may not be immediately obvious, it often becomes apparent soon after the impact. That said, it’s imperative to recognize that tire-belt separation poses a grave safety risk — potentially resulting in a loss of vehicle control or blowout.

Inflation Issues

Tire inflation problems, particularly underinflation, lead to uneven wear on the tire tread. When the tread wear becomes irregular and pronounced, it can cause the tire to generate a rhythmic womp womp noise as it makes contact with the road during turns. The lateral forces experienced during turning accentuate the uneven tread wear, making the noise more pronounced in this driving scenario.

When Accelerating

Imbalanced Tires

Imbalance problems are particularly noticeable during acceleration, especially at higher speeds, since they can induce vibrations and irregularities in tire rotation. These vibrations intensify as you accelerate — hence, the repetitive ‘womps.’

This imbalance can develop over time due to tire wear, although it’s unlikely to create a significant rhythmic womp womp noise. When such a noise becomes prominent, however, it’s often due to losing wheel weight or significant wheel damage, causing an imbalance issue.

At Low Speeds

Woman Driving Vehicle

Debris-Related Damage

One of the most common sources of a womp womp tire noise is when a foreign object punctures the tire and becomes embedded in it. This is particularly evident if the noise suddenly starts.

When a tire is punctured, the object responsible for the puncture often remains embedded in the tire. As the tire rotates and contacts the road, it produces noise, especially at lower speeds (if the sound is relatively subtle). Larger objects tend to create louder noises, which become more noticeable at higher speeds.

Objects like screws and nails are frequent culprits behind tire punctures that don’t immediately lead to a flat tire. Various items, including large bolts and 10-mm sockets, can get stuck in tires. Pointy and metal objects are typically the most common, but unexpected objects can also become lodged.

While some larger punctures can be patched, objects large enough to cause a rhythmic womp womp sound often inflict sufficient damage to the tire to necessitate replacement. That said, avoid driving on punctured tires whenever possible, as the object responsible for the puncture can dislodge at any time — causing a rapid loss of air and potential loss of wheel control.

Sidewall Bulging

Sidewall bulges are a conspicuous form of tire damage, often identified by a pronounced deformity on the outer sidewall. These bulges (essentially a belt separation or broken tire belt issue) result from encounters with potholes or curb strikes, internal damage, or manufacturing defects and can be easily spotted through a visual inspection without the need for vehicle lifting.

This deformity makes contact with the road surface as the vehicle moves, especially at lower speeds. The deformed section repeatedly impacts the road, generating a rhythmic or irregular womp womp noise.

Stone Trapping

Stone trapping occurs when rocks become wedged between tire tread blocks and remain trapped while the tire rolls down the road. Although smaller stones within the tread pattern often go unnoticed, larger rocks or other objects can lodge themselves between tread blocks and create noise during driving.

While most of these larger rocks or objects may be dislodged when accelerating, some can persist stubbornly, resulting in a rhythmic sound emanating from the tires. Fortunately, this cause of tire noise does not damage the tires, and the trapped object can be easily removed from between the tire treads.

Axle or CV Joint Problems

Issues with the axles (view on Amazon) or CV joints can cause noise during low-speed driving due to these components’ integral role in the drivetrain. These joints, situated between the transmission and the wheel, are responsible for transmitting power from the engine to the wheels while accommodating the up-and-down motion of the suspension during vehicle movement.

Note that issues with the axles or CV joints do not directly cause womp womp tire noises. However, they can indirectly generate this noise, especially when worn or damaged, since they can contribute to the misalignment of components in the vehicle’s drivetrain.

When Braking

Faulty Wheel Bearings

Worn or damaged wheel bearings can indirectly contribute to the womp womp tire noise when braking. However, they’re particularly more pronounced when turning. The changing weight distribution during turns places additional stress on the wheel bearings. If these bearings are compromised, they may not operate smoothly, causing the wheel to wobble and leading to uneven tire wear.

Brake Rotor Issues

Conversely, warped or unevenly worn brake rotors (view on Amazon) can generate rhythmic womp womp tire noises during braking. When brake pads make uneven contact with the rotor’s surface, it results in a pulsating or uneven brake action, causing the pads to repeatedly contact different areas of the rotor during braking, effectively producing the noise. This outcome goes both ways, tracing back to worn brake pads or a warped rotor.

Worn Suspension Parts

Another indirect cause of the womp womp tire noise is worn suspension components. The likes of bushings, ball joints, or struts getting compromised can result in an unstable wheel alignment. During braking and acceleration, the tires experience lateral forces. If the suspension parts are worn, they may not properly support the vehicle’s weight and alignment, contributing to unusual noises when maneuvering in such situations.

Loose or Worn Calipers

Issues with calipers are a common source of the womp womp tire noise. Calipers are crucial to the braking system; they house the brake pads and facilitate their controlled movement. When calipers become loose or worn, they can induce several problems that lead to the noise.

Loose calipers may allow the brake pads to move unevenly and inconsistently in response to braking. This results in an irregular application of force on the rotor, causing the pads to make uneven contact with the rotor’s surface.

Worn calipers might have compromised pistons or seals, leading to difficulty maintaining proper pad alignment. As a result, the brake pads may not sit correctly, causing them to repeatedly contact different rotor areas during braking.

This inconsistent pad-to-rotor contact creates that womp womp noise as the brake pads intermittently grip different rotor parts. This noise becomes more pronounced during braking, particularly at higher speeds or when more significant braking force is applied.

How to Fix Womp Womp Tire Noise

Car Tire Close-up

In addition to the above fixes, here are other ways you can eradicate that rod knock sound from your vehicle:

1. Keep your senses alert for these other accompanying symptoms:

  • Steering wheel, seat, and floor vibrations, especially during acceleration
  • Steering issues, such as difficulties in pulling to one side or a crooked wheel when going straight
  • Reduced handling and control, particularly when cornering or braking
  • Pulsations or reduced braking efficiency
  • Changes in noise intensity (even when it’s not characteristically a womping sound)
  • Activated dash warning lights (typical of tire noises related to axle or CV joint)

2. Use a diagnostic tool.

Use diagnostic tools like the FOXWELL NT604 Elite Car OBD2 Scanner (view on Amazon) and scan for trouble codes if warning lights are set off. Some examples of DTCs you may encounter are as follows:

  • P0776: Pressure Control Solenoid “B” Performance/Stuck Off
  • C0040: Right Rear Wheel Speed Sensor Circuit

3. Thoroughly inspect all relevant parts and components.

Park your vehicle on a level surface and turn off the engine. Examine each tire for signs of damage or irregular wear patterns, including checking for bulges, cuts, or foreign objects lodged in the treads. Inspect the wheels, calipers, and suspension parts, and look for any loose or disconnected components that may affect alignment or balance.

4. Perform the fix.

Once done with visual inspection, refer to the table below based on your findings. At this point, the necessitated resolution for your womp womp tire noise could be anything from a parts replacement to a full-on tire-and-wheel service.

Inappropriate Wheel AlignmentWheel and tire alignment
Uneven Tire PatternsTire replacement
Deformed WheelTire repair or replacement
Tire-Belt SeparationInspection and/or tire replacement
Inflation IssuesProper tire inflation
Imbalanced TiresTire balancing
Debris-Related DamageInspection and removal of debris
Sidewall BulgingTire replacement
Stone TrappingInspection and removal of debris
Axle or CV Joint ProblemsRepair and/or replacement of components
Faulty Wheel BearingsWheel bearing replacement
Brake Rotor IssuesBrake disc resurfacing or replacement
Worn Suspension PartsParts replacement
Loose or Worn CalipersCaliper repair or replacement

Conclusion — Womp Womp Tire Noise

Note that the factors discussed in this guide can produce noise in various driving situations, including acceleration, low-speed driving, and braking — contingent on the extent of damage and how such affects tire performance and wear. It’s just that most of these causes are often associated with turning since it’s the most conducive scenario for detecting the womp womp tire noise due to the stresses on load-bearing, steering, and suspension components and the lateral forces involved. 

If you suspect that any of these issues might be responsible for the womp womp noise in your vehicle, it’s crucial to have the erring components promptly inspected and, if necessary, replaced.