Whirring sound at higher speeds, but no vibration or loss of handling

Noticed in past week that when i drive the car above about 35 mph, there is a distinct whirring sound (like a distant airplane) that is hard to locate. the faster you go, the louder it tends to get and doesn't abate when you stop accelerating. At lower than 35 mph, it doesn't make the sound at all. There is no vibration or groaning like you might get with a bearing, and no change in handling detected at all.

My car has 136080 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Experienced mechanics share their insights in answering this question :
Hi there:

Quite often this type of noise can be caused by a loose center wheel cover or a hub cap as it hits the wind at higher speeds. Other possible causes of this type of noise may be related to a CV joint that is beginning to wear out. The only way to know for certain is to have a mobile mechanic test drive the vehicle and complete a car is making a noise inspection; so they can listen, feel and determine the source of the noise and pinpoint what’s causing this to occur.

How to Identify and Fix Common car Problems ?

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The more you accelerate, the more the whirring increases. It`s time to get your car in for a checkup! There might be a number of reasons for this, including a bad water pump, low levels of power steering fluid, and a bad air conditioner compressor.
Your Car Makes a Humming Noise When Accelerating

If you hear a rumbling/humming noise as you idle and when you accelerate, the noise gets louder (like an airplane taking off) this is most likely a wheel bearing issue.

Common reasons for this to happen: Low Transmission Fluid: For both manual and automatic transmissions, the primary cause for whining when in gear is low transmission fluid. If the fluid is too low, then the internal components of the transmission are not lubricated properly.
A humming noise while you accelerate could be a sign of a bad wheel bearing, uneven tires, or an alternator belt issue. Some of these problems can be dangerous, so it`s important to bring your car to a shop ASAP. Bizarre noises are never a good sign when driving.
If the whining gets higher with the revere, it means that the fluid line of the transmission has been clogged. In most cases, a clogged fluid line points to a more significant issue. On an automatic transmission, if the whine gets louder when in gear, it points to a problem with the torque converter.
Definition of `whirr`

When something such as a machine or an insect`s wing whirrs, it makes a series of low sounds so quickly that they seem like one continuous sound.

You very likely have an issue with a large exhaust leak at or before the muffler. Most commonly, heat and moisture combine over time to form small holes in the muffler or exhaust pipe, causing the muffler to stop… well… muffling.
Car Makes Whining Noise When Accelerating

While the transmission is the most likely cause, whining while accelerating can also be caused by low power steering fluid or more serious damage like faulty alternator bearings, a malfunctioning water pump, a broken piston or a bad AC compressor.

Some of the most common include transmission problems, electrical issues, and interior accessory faults. Still, none come close to the damage the worst models might sustain. If you invest in one of these models, you can feel comfortable on the road.
If the noise becomes worse the faster you drive, then it`s almost certainly a bad wheel bearing. If the noise remains the same, then the issue may be the tires instead. The noise may be the result of an under-inflated tire or improperly aligned tires.
The classic sounds of a bad wheel bearing are cyclic chirping, squealing and/or growling noise. You can also tell that the sound is related to wheel bearings if it changes in proportion to vehicle speed. The sound can get worse with every turn, or it can disappear momentarily.
Whirring or Whining

Whirring and whining noises from the engine vary as the car runs fast or slow. These sounds can indicate a number of different problems, including a failing water pump, a bad power steering pump, low power steering fluid, a failing alternator, or problems with the air-conditioning system.

A humming or whining noise in an automatic transmission vehicle often means that you are low on automatic transmission fluid. If this is the case, you want to refill that fluid immediately. Transmission fluid reduces friction, which means heat, which in turn is bad news for transmissions.
If you ever hear growling or whining noises coming from under the hood, you could have alternator problems, which should be checked out by a professional ASAP. This growling or whining sound happens when the belt that turns the alternator`s pulley becomes misaligned or rubs against the side of the pulley.

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

Whirring sound at higher speeds, but no vibration or loss of handling
ANSWER : Hi there:

Quite often this type of noise can be caused by a loose center wheel cover or a hub cap as it hits the wind at higher speeds. Other possible causes of this type of noise may be related to a CV joint that is beginning to wear out. The only way to know for certain is to have a mobile mechanic test drive the vehicle and complete a car is making a noise inspection; so they can listen, feel and determine the source of the noise and pinpoint what’s causing this to occur.

severe steering wheel vibration at speeds above 60 mph, but not below 60, and severe vibration during braking.
ANSWER : If you can wiggle the tire side to side then you either have a problem with inner or outer tie rod ends. You may have both of them that are bad. This will allow the side-to-side movement, but brake rotors that are warped is the fault that may be responsible for the wobbling. You should have the tie rod inner and outer joints checked and replaced. Also check the rack and pinion bushings to make sure they are properly in place. If you need help with any of this, a certified mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic can come to your car’s location to inspect your vehicle’s vibration issue.

Vibration when turning left at highway speeds
ANSWER : Hi there. Vehicle vibration when driving above 55 mph is commonly attributed to tire / wheel balance. However, the other symptoms you’re describing lead me to believe that you might have damage to wheel bearings (as you indicated you have some play when you move them), or rear stabilizer bar (which is the play in the bushing you described perhaps). Since you had the brakes completely rebuilt, I’d suggest to have all of your wheel bearings inspected, especially since you said you noticed a vibration in your brake pedal. On a 1997 Toyota Camry, that symptom would usually be a front end wheel bearing problem, but could be due to all wheel bearings wearing out. If you would like to have the vibration inspected, a certified technician from YourMechanic can confirm the faulty component and replace the wheel bearings if necessary.

2006 Mazda 3 makes a hum sound when accelerating. Sound is louder at higher speeds but stops when car is out in neutral and still
ANSWER : Hi there. If the humming sound is coming from your vehicle while it’s in gear, then the likely source is the transmission. It is possible that CV joints or wheel bearings might also be the source of your problem, but those typically make noise all the time. It would probably be a good idea to have a professional mobile mechanic come to your location to complete a car is making a noise inspection, so they can pinpoint the source of this issue and recommend the right repairs.

Car is making a speed related sound over 20mph almost like something is dragging or rubbing. 2008 Subaru Outback
ANSWER : Hi there – quite likely, this is a wheel bearing noise. Your own diagnostics actually narrow it to this "speed-related, but not while shifting (accelerating)" – well done! The bearing might not make noise while suspended – because it isn’t carrying any weight then. If you make slow turns at modest speeds – an "on-ramp" for example – that will help determine which bearing it is if it’s a front wheel bearing: if louder during a left turn, it’s the right-front bearing, opposite for a right turn. I would recommend a wheel bearing/hub replacement service by a mobile, professional mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, who will come to your location, diagnose this problem, give you an accurate assessment of damage and cost estimate for repairs.

Whirring sound when driving.
ANSWER : You may be correct that it is a bad wheel bearing. However a thorough diagnosis would be needed in order to properly check your noise out. Sometimes something as simple as a plastic bag got caught on the axle and is spinning around making noise. This is why I would recommend having a mechanic, like the certified ones at YourMechanic, come to check it out for you to see what is causing the problem.

Car sounds like golf cart when revving and braking; also leaking fluid; sound fades as car warms up
ANSWER : Hello,
There are a number of things that could make an engine noisy when starting up. Depending on the specific type of sound you are referring to, this will determine how to properly diagnose. If there is a bit of a hissing sound, this may be a sign of a vacuum leak. If this is more of a shrieking sound, this may be a sign of a worn out or out of adjustment serpentine belt. If there is a bit of a howling or growling sound, this may be a sign of a worn out or low on fluid power steering pump. A rattling or pinging sound may be caused by an ignition problem. An engine can ping (or knock) due to an improper combustion process. A "spark knock" is the result of combustion occurring too early. Early combustion can occur from carbon buildup inside the combustion chamber, a lean air/fuel mixture, and advanced ignition timing (spark plug firing too soon). A clattering type sound may be a result of improper lubrication in the valve train which could be a more serious problem and should be addressed as soon as possible. I would suggest having an expert from YourMechanic come to your location to diagnose and inspect your vehicle to ensure everything is in proper working order.

Engine makes clicking sounds while idling and at lower speeds
ANSWER : Hey there. The first noise you described sounds like valve lifter noise. You will hear this sound if the engine is low on oil. Check the oil level and add if necessary. The lifter noise is not heard at higher RPMs because the oil pressure is higher as the engine speed gets higher. If you have high mileage, you could benefit from the next higher viscosity oil. For example: a car that originally called for 5w30 when the mileage gets up past 100K, you can use 10w30. The reason is because as bearings wear out it becomes harder to maintain oil pressure and a slightly thicker oil can help get some of that oil pressure back. I’m not sure what noise you could be describing, but there should not be rocks in any engine pipes. It is possible you have a cracked exhaust pipe or something else loose that is rattling against a pipe. A certified technician from YourMechanic can come to your car’s location to inspect the car noise and make the correct repairs.