A wheel bearing is an important part of a vehicle’s braking, steering, and suspension systems. It is the component that connects the wheel to the axle and allows the wheel to turn. A wheel bearing is a set of steel ball bearings or tapers that are tightly packed in a grease-filled metal ring. They are engineered to support the entire weight of the vehicle and enable the wheel to rotate smoothly with minimum friction.
Why Do Wheel Bearings Fail?
Wheel bearings can fail for a variety of reasons and can also be damaged. They are especially vulnerable if you hit a tall curb, pothole, or speed bump at a high speed. If water, road salt, or mud gets past the waterproof seal and touches the bearings, it will contaminate the grease and cause the bearings to wear down and break prematurely.
Top Warning Signs Your Wheel Bearings Need Replacement
- Noise While Driving – The most common symptom of a bad wheel bearing is audible.
Humming Noise- If you hear a humming or whirring noise while driving, typically at higher speeds, that could be a bad bearing. But be careful- a humming noise can also be linked to other issues such as tires or the CV joint.
Squealing or Growling Noise- Worn-out wheel bearings typically make a squealing or growling noise. This sound will intensify as vehicle speed increases.
Clicking Sound- A problem with the wheel hub assembly is commonly heard as a clicking sound which increases in frequency as the vehicle accelerates.
- Steering Feels Loose- If the steering feels less responsive than normal, worn-out wheel bearings could be causing the problem.
- Steering Wheel Vibration- Bad wheel bearings can cause the steering wheel to vibrate at higher speeds or as the vehicle turns left or right.
- Wheel Wobble- Auto Technicians can check if the wheel wobbles by putting the vehicle on a lift and manually checking for wheel movement. If it moves, the hub assembly needs immediate attention. The wheel can come off the vehicle at any time if the issue is not repaired.
- ABS Failure- The wheel’s speed sensor will not operate properly if the ring, tire, and wheel wobble. The anti-lock braking system may operate sporadically or not at all.
It is best to avoid driving with a bad wheel bearing for any length of time. Doing so could have severe consequences for the drive-axle and steering assembly, as well as, for your safety.
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