Consider yourself travelling down the road when your left front tire and wheel suddenly break off, sending your out-of-control car tumbling over multiple lanes of 65 mph traffic. In actuality, if you fail to recognize the symptoms of poor wheel bearing, you may find yourself in this situation.
This definitive guide is for those who want to understand wheel bearings and how they fail. This article will show you all you need to know about wheel bearing problems and how to fix them.
What is a Wheel Bearing? Application of Car bearing
Wheel bearings are metal rings that hold a pair of steel balls or tapers together. They allow the wheels to spin smoothly and with little friction.
Hubs are hollow metal components that sit in the middle of a vehicle’s wheels. Wheel bearings are snugly fitted into hubs and ride on metal axle shafts, reducing friction while the wheels spin.
There is no consistent source of lubrication for wheel bearings, unlike engine bearings. To prevent dirt, water, and dust out of the wheel bearings, they must be tight. They also sustain the whole vehicle’s weight while it is in motion. Thus they are susceptible to a lot of wear and strain.
Wheel bearings are essential when it comes to improving a car’s performance. The following are the most common uses for wheel bearings:
It reduces CO2 emissions, which contribute to global warming, as well as the number of breakdowns.
While we wish to travel quicker or require substantial driving energy, such as when climbing uphill, we employ a wheel bearing in a vehicle gearbox. It is vital to develop a driving force that is suitable for the driving conditions.
The transmission mechanism turns engine power into a driving force and distributes it to the wheels. Many various types of bearings operate together inside the system, each utilizing its strength. However, a vehicle uses several bearings inside the separate components.
Finally, a car uses wheel bearing to support shafts and gears, as well as differential gears.
How long does a wheel bearing last?
Although Engineers manufacture wheel bearings to last the life of your vehicle, they can break and become worn out. Most wheel bearings last between 85,000 and 100,000 miles before needing to be replaced.
Some vehicles’ wheel bearings live longer, while others require replacement very fast. It all relies on the quality of your wheel bearings and the conditions in which you drive.
Because the wheel bearings are located directly on the wheel, they must survive various driving and weather situations, including potholes, speed bumps, rain, dust, and more.
Because of the tough conditions, you should watch for failing wheel-bearing symptoms rather than depending on a timeframe.
Bad wheel bearing Symptoms
If you’re worried about your wheel bearings, there are several signs of bad wheel bearing to watch. You may need a replacement if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned below. If you fear your wheel bearings are failing, stay vigilant and tell your technician what indicators you’ve seen.
Strong Wheel Bearing Noise
Bad wheel bearings can cause a variety of strange noises, so it’s best to take note of anything you hear. As a car owner, it is your job to know what noises are standard, so you should notice wheel bearing noises out of the norm as soon as they start.
Hearing humming, squealing, squeaking, growling, clicking, snapping, popping, clunking, or knocking noises is common if your wheel bearing is bad. You might hear these noises when you turn, accelerate, shift gears, and more. These noises could also indicate various other issues, so let your mechanic figure out what the problem is.
Squealing and growling are common noises made by worn-out wheel bearings. As the vehicle’s speed rises, the sound becomes louder. Try to determine the noise source since this will reveal the location of the worn-out wheel bearings.
There might be an issue with the wheel hub assembly if you hear a clicking sound that becomes louder as the car speeds up.
By placing the vehicle on a lift and physically monitoring wheel movement, you may recognize this fault. Usually, shaking the wheel and tire would be impossible. If it moves, however, the hub assembly requires immediate care. If you don’t fix the problem, the wheel might come off the car at any time.
The anti-lock warning light may come on. The wheel’s speed sensor can no longer function properly if the ring, tire, and wheel wobble, and the ABS may act irregularly or not. For a repair, see a specialist.
Uneven Brake Pad Or Rotor Wear
It’s possible that if one tire wears out quicker than the others, the wheel bearings are worn. There are a variety of reasons why your tires and brake pads are wearing out prematurely. Wheel bearing failure is one of these reasons.
It might also indicate that the case has underinflated, misaligned the tire, or it broke the vehicle’s suspension components. No matter what you believe the problem is, you should schedule an appointment with a specialist if you detect uneven brake pad or rotor wear.
Vehicle pulls to one side
When braking, worn bearings may cause a car to pull to the left or right. The worn bearings are on the left or right side of the vehicle, depending on which way the automobile pulls. However, this might indicate an issue with the brake rotor or calliper.
Steering wheel vibration
Bad wheel bearings might cause vibrations in the steering wheel as the vehicle’s speed rises as the car turns left or right. The intensity increases as well. However, an out-of-round or unbalanced tire might link this issue to a vibration.
Steering feels loose
Worn bearings might be the source of excessive play in the steering, making the steering seem less sensitive and accurate than typical. The intensity in this situation rises in proportion to the vehicle’s speed.
It might also indicate that you may need to align the vehicle’s wheels. Visit a dealer service or vehicle repair facility if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above.
Pulling while applying brakes
The worn bearings might become loose at times. As a consequence, there is a lot of runouts. The brakes pulse or pull as a result of this.
In other circumstances, the vibration is transmitted through the steering via a damaged or pitted bearing. It may also induce a pull to one side. Your car will pull to the side of the wheel bearing that has failed.
Why does wheel bearing fail?
Wheel bearings may fail for a variety of causes. Some of the most prevalent reasons for wheel bearing failure are listed below.
Inappropriate instruments, such as a hammer or an impact wrench, might damage the wheel end bearing’s exterior and inside, causing the bearing to fail prematurely.
Additionally, reusing outdated accessories such as bolts, nuts, circlips, split pins, seals, and the like may result in wheel bearing failure. Suppose you don’t replace them with new ones. In that case, the wheel end bearing may be subjected to abnormal or hazardous circumstances, resulting in increased wheel end bearing wear and the possibility of a vehicle accident.
Poor Road Quality or Impact Damage
The more you drive on uneven terrain, the more likely it will damage and wear out your wheel bearings. The steel balls will acquire damaged regions over time, limiting their capacity to minimize wheel friction. It is therefore required to take your automobile to an auto repair shop.
Poor Quality Wheel Bearing
Like every other car component, the quality of the wheel bearing determines how long it will survive. Bearings are specific items that need lengthy production procedures.
Poor heat-treating in low-quality steel may cause it to spall and wear prematurely, as well as include hard or soft metal, which can lead to failure. It is essential to contact a reputable auto technician to ensure that your vehicle has solid and long-lasting wheel bearings.
Your wheel bearings may fail if you drive through deep water or dirt. Water, mud, or other pollutants like dust or road salt might get past the seals and into the bearing, contaminating the oil and causing the bearings to wear out.
Larger or wider rims, tires with lower thread walls, harsher shock absorbers, and suspension springs cases higher stresses on the wheel bearing and faster wear. To extend the life of your wheel bearings, stick to the rims, tires, shock absorbers, and springs recommended by the manufacturer.
Making ensuring your vehicle’s tires are balanced is an essential part of any decent auto maintenance program. If not, specific wheel bearings will be subjected to higher strain and stress than others, perhaps resulting in damage. If you feel your tires are unbalanced, take your automobile to a shop and have a professional examine it.
Wheel bearings wear out more rapidly while hauling big weights. Trailers usually overlook the wheel bearing because it usually takes overload. Don’t forget to get your vehicle’s wheel bearings examined as well. You may replace your wheel bearings more regularly if you weigh down your car continually.
Any portion of a vehicle, including wheel bearings, may be damaged in an automotive collision. Even a little ding on them might cause them to malfunction. Potholes, speed bumps, and even striking curbs may damage wheel bearings, which an auto repair can diagnose.
Risk of driving with bad wheel bearings
It’s pretty unusual for wheel bearings to fail, and soon after, the first symptom appears.
However, we don’t recommend driving with a worn wheel bearing for any length of time. As we’ve seen, the wheel bearing is critical for linking your wheel to your vehicle, and any failure in this connection might result in serious repercussions.
The solution to avoid risk with bad wheel bearings
Even though current wheel bearings are more straightforward to install than earlier generations, it still requires proper installation, the use of suitable equipment and adherence to the stated torque values for optimal performance, longevity, and safety.
As a result, we suggest installing your wheel bearings by a professional technician who has the necessary knowledge and equipment. It’s critical to seek high-quality components while repairing your wheel bearings.
Factors to consider before purchasing the wheel bearing
We now know how vital a wheel bearing is for an automobile because of what we learned above. So. Before buying a wheel bearing, there are a few things to consider. In this scenario, the three elements listed below are sufficient to examine.
Ceramic Vs. Stainless Steel Wheel Bearings
Stainless steel is often used for wheel bearings since it is corrosion resistant and does not rust. This wheel bearings can endure high temperatures and survive a long period without lubrication.
Self-lubricating ceramic bearings, on the other hand, endure longer than stainless steel wheel bearings. These bearings are very robust and considerably minimize rolling resistance, lowering the strain on the driveline.
Usually, people utilizes ceramic wheel bearings in performance automobiles and racing, while stainless steel wheel bearings are inexpensive and ideal for regular commuting and passenger vehicles.
Wheel Bearing Kit Vs. Individual Wheel Bearing
You can purchase wheel bearings as a single item or as part of a kit. The wheel bearing package includes bearing protection, bearing cover, lock nut, O-ring, spacer, split pin seal, and bearing cover.
A single-wheel bearing is relatively inexpensive and may save you a lot of money. However, a wheel bearing kit enables you to fix the wheel bearing assembly’s other damaged pieces.
Wheel bearings come in a variety of kinds and sizes, depending on the vehicle and use. Engineers designed the wheel bearings to handle a specified weight, which varies from vehicle to vehicle.
As a result, selecting the proper wheel bearing for your vehicle is critical. You may get this information in your car’s handbook or on PartsAvatar by searching for your vehicle’s appropriate fitting wheel bearings.
Wheel bearings are an essential part of any vehicle’s drivetrain since they are the initial point of contact between the moving and stationary parts of the car. As a result, all automobile owners must have a thorough understanding of wheel bearings.
Wheel-bearing failures have causes and symptoms that you should be aware of. Finally, it would be best if you were mindful of how to prevent these blunders. Finally, it would be beneficial to know the elements to consider when acquiring a wheel bearing.