The most reliable part of any car’s suspension has always been the wheel bearing. What is it, how is it tested, and why does it wear out? This article contains the answers to these and a slew of other questions.
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What is a wheel bearing?
The wheel bearing ensures that the car’s wheels rotate in the same direction. Thus, it serves as a link between the vehicle’s axle and the hub, where the wheel is attached. Between the rings, conical components are forced into the metal. Rubber insulators separate these from the case. The hub and bearing work together to keep the wheel as free of friction as possible.
It has numerous lubricated balls inside, much as any other bearing. Balls brush against each other because the lubricating oil degrades with time. So the bearing’s lifespan is extremely short.
Ball angular contact and roller conic are the two most common types of wheel bearings. In recent decades, single-row bearings have been replaced with more advanced bearings.
Because of the high loads they endure, wheel bearings need to be replaced on a regular basis.
high temperatures, a variety of external stimuli, as well as shocks, such as when a wheel hits a pothole, as a result of driving style, brakes, and steering are all contributing factors. The wheel’s rotation should be quiet and friction-free, with just a minimal amount of noise.
The wheel bearing performs the following functions:
- provides unimpeded rotation of the hub itself on the axis with a minimum expenditure of friction;
- connects the hub, with an axis or with a rotary cam and makes its centering on the axis
- makes a distribution of forces, both radial and lateral, torque, received from the wheel to the axis and suspension of the car, as well as from the suspension to the wheel;
- relieves the load from the axle shaft of the drive axle, transferring it to the bridge beam.
Cars cannot function without a wheel bearing. Because of this, the wheel would be unable to move. It is subjected to a lot of wear and tear, necessitating the use of high-quality materials. If you drive a lot or abuse the vehicle, this component will eventually wear out. It is a necessity to do so. You could cause a major accident if you don’t pay attention to the road.
Main symptoms of a failing wheel bearing
- When a wheel bearing is bad there will be a strong hum, both inside the car cabin, and on the outside as well. Being in the car, it is difficult to determine which wheel has that humming noise.
- With the strong wear of the bearing, the steering wheel vibration will be noticeable. When there is a lot of wear, the bearing bed is broken, the spherical elements begin to walk around the bearing circumference.
- The car will tend to go in the direction in which the defective bearing is. A bad bearing will always get worse fast, and, because of this, the car begins to pull left or right.
How to tell if a wheel bearing is bad?
There are numerous options for accomplishing this.
Checking the wheel bearing without removing the wheel
Using this procedure, a bearing can be inspected without having to remove it. Specialized equipment isn’t even required.
How to check the rear and front wheel bearing?
The gear shifter must be in the neutral position at 70 to 80 km/h (44 to 50 mph). As a result, you must pay close attention to the suspension noise. Because of this, it is critical to pick a route that is as flat as possible, so that the suspension does not move as much as possible. Wheel bearing problems are indicated by an unusually high-pitched humming noise.
Checking the wheel bearing without removing the wheel
You can use an elevator to lift the car, then hold the top and bottom of the tire and move it gently horizontally or vertically with your hands. It is highly likely that the wheel bearing has been destroyed, if you see a gap in the wheel. Careful! There is a tiny amount of wiggle room when it comes to the rear wheels. On the front deck, this is strictly prohibited, and the wheel must be extremely stiff in order to function properly.
You won’t be inconvenienced if the elevator isn’t working. Utilize the jack. It’s going to take some time. However, these aren’t the only means for determining if a bearing is functioning properly.
Check the wheel bearing by using the steering wheel
Because we don’t have to look far and accelerate the car to high speeds, this strategy has a lot of advantages. However, the uniformity of coverage is also critical. So how does this procedure aid in the inspection of the wheel bearing? While driving at 20-30 kilometers per hour, we immediately turn the wheel left and right.
We can see how much the car’s body is swaying this way. If the wheel bearings are faulty, the skid will get worse. A distinctive noise will accompany all of this. It can be exaggerated at times.
In the same way, we can tell which side is shaky. The pressure is on the left bearing when turning right (because the body is moving in the opposite direction). In order to determine whether or not it’s a rear or front element, you’ll need to ride an elevator.
Checking for lubrication is critical when purchasing a new bearing. Most of the time, unethical producers fail to disclose this information. As a result, the element is subjected to continual stress and fails.
How long does a wheel bearing last?
The wheel bearing’s life expectancy varies widely depending on a wide range of conditions.
from 31,000 miles to more than 150,000 miles (93. 000 miles). Operating circumstances and the car model and make are first on this list.
In the end, we’ve shown you how to tell if the bearing works properly or not. Of course, there is always some sort of noise to go along with a problem. Even if it hasn’t broken down yet, it’s crucial to catch it. Taking a wrong turn on the road is quite hazardous. A component of the front axle is especially problematic.
How long can you drive with a bad wheel bearing?
A buzzing noise is the first indicator of a bag bearing. You will notice vibration in the steering wheel when the bearings are worn out. A worn-out wheel bearing indicates that the spherical parts have already been worn out.
It is the hub bearing’s job to distribute all that weight on the road to the rim. As a result, the materials used to build these components are built to last. However, there is a point at which everything comes to an end. Wheel bearings wear down over time, whether it’s through driving the automobile a lot or for other reasons.
Causes of premature wear of the wheel bearing
- Too many miles. There is nothing supernatural: long-term driving leads to wear on any part, and hub bearing is no exception.
- Loss of lubricant. It is placed inside the product during the manufacturing phase, and then the bearing is tightly closed with a special rubber or plastic cover. If this housing is destroyed, the lubricant leaks and starts to run on “dry”, which leads to its destruction.
- Constant driving on bumps, potholes, and an aggressive driving style.
- Incorrect installation. If the installation of this part is done incorrectly, after about 2000 kilometers (1000 miles) or even earlier, you will be convinced that the hub bearing is defective and the characteristic noise is heard.
- Lubrication is not recommended by car manufacturers. The hub operates in high-temperature mode, so for normal operation, you need a proper composition. Another type of lubricant can overheat, melt and leak, leaving the bearing dry.
- Installing a lower quality or faulty wheel bearing.
- Abnormal operation of the brakes causes them to overheat. As a result, excess heat is transferred to the hub bearing.
The bearing, to be honest, is the hub’s most durable component. Trying is the only way to defeat it. Racks, rubber bushings, and other mounted components are liable to break.
Repairing and replacing the wheel bearing
Bearings frequently fail after a certain number of miles due to wear and tear. If the old grease cannot be removed, a new one can be applied. This operation’s grease is now available for purchase. They can withstand high temperatures without losing any of their qualities.
A new wheel bearing should be purchased rather than re-greasing the old one.
Changing a wheel bearing on your own is an extremely difficult task. To do this, you’ll need specialized tools and an understanding of how the car’s suspension works. The wheel hub must be replaced if the wheel bearing fails.
The first stage of wear is marked by a noise that begins at a speed of 40 to 50 kilometers per hour (24 to 31 miles per hour). An additional blow is then added to the noise, followed by a crack that indicates that the separator has been destroyed. Finally, the wheel becomes stuck and even starts rotating at an angle that is not parallel to the path of travel. As a result, not only the driver and his or her passengers, but also the adjacent pedestrians, are at risk.