Bearings are the components that are designed with high precision to ensure that they support the smooth running of mechanical movements.
Apart from simply facilitating movement, bearings also help to carry heavy loads with great ease and efficiency. There are different types of bearings, and among them, ball bearings and roller bearings, generally used in cars. This type is used especially because they can support both radial and axial loads.
Wheel bearings are really necessary for the operation of your car. They are located on a metal axle shaft and are permanently installed in the hub. The wheel bearing is essential for the proper functioning of the hub, the tire and the wheel assemblies of the car so that they can work together.
The wheel bearing ensures smooth movement and rotation of the hub assembly, thus ensuring smooth tire and wheel rotation.
A malfunction of the wheel bearing results in a variety of signs or symptoms, some of which are clearly visible and others confusing. It is difficult to diagnose because the car needs to be driven to diagnose the problem.
Symptoms of a Bad Wheel bearing
There can be a variety of symptoms and effects of a faulty wheel bearing. They are as follows:
1. Grinding or Grating sound from the wheel
One of the most common and most recognizable symptoms associated with poor wheel bearings is noise emanating from the wheel of a moving vehicle. You may confuse this with engine noise, but if you listen closely, you will probably hear a crunching or grinding sound that becomes louder as the vehicle accelerates.
Because wheel bearings are not known to wear so often, the noise is usually mistaken for something else and the problem is overlooked.
Mostly, wheel bearings are made of hardened steel and can withstand many forces. Bearings are usually destroyed by heat and water. Heat is generated when there is little or no lubrication, and water can sometimes permeate the wheel bearing. In most cases, newly manufactured wheel bearings are fully sealed.
These seals help to protect the wheel bearing from destructive elements such as water, dirt, etc. However, if this seal is broken, the wheel bearing starts to fail and make noise.
2. Shifting Weight of Car
Another result is if you drive the car at a speed of about 50 miles per hour and if you steer it to the left and right by shifting its weight from left to right, it will start making noise. Be sure to steer gently, as high speeds and rough cuts can tip your car over.
If you steer from left to right or from right to left, the sound effect will be different. For example, if you turn right and the noise decreases, it means that your left wheel bearing is damaged, and if you turn left and the noise decreases, it means that your right wheel bearing is damaged.
3. Worn Patches on Tires
Sometimes tires that are partially worn or cut out of various patches make grinding or squeezing noises when the speed is increased. This noise is somewhat similar to the noise of a worn wheel bearing. It is therefore recommended to have a look at the tires as well. But don’t forget that these stains on tires can also be the result of worn wheel bearings.
4. Your Car Feels Loose
The looseness of the wheel, also known as wheel play, is another common symptom of a bad wheel bearing. When the bearing becomes spoiled, it begins to get lost inside the wheel hub and wheel spindle, making the vehicle feel loose when steering.
Replacement of the Wheel Bearing
Wheel bearings do not fail immediately; they often allow some time to pass before they need to be replaced. In the worst case, the failure of a wheel bearing can cause the wheel hub to become completely blocked and the car can no longer move. But it is not necessary to replace them immediately, sometimes you can simply drive on with defective wheel bearings and nothing happens; the noise just gets louder and louder.
Replacing a bearing is a bit expensive because there is a lot of work involved. Especially for vehicles with four-wheel or front-wheel drive, several parts have to be removed to get to the bearing.
Some cars have a hub that can be easily replaced, others require special equipment to replace it. If this is the case, it is probably easier and cheaper to have a mechanic do the work for you instead. However, if you want to replace it yourself, you can do it the following way:
(Remember that this varies greatly depending on the model of car)
First, the vehicle is lifted onto the jack and placed on a jack stand. The rear wheels are blocked with a stopper to ensure that your vehicle does not move. Then the tire is unscrewed first and a wheel cover on the rim of the tire is removed.
Remove Axle Nut
After removing the cover, put the tire back on, fix it with 2-3 nuts, loosen it, and then remove the axle bolt. Use wrenches with long handles, as axle nuts are usually very tight and require high torque to remove.
Remove Brake Rotor Assembly
As soon as the axle nut is loosened, reinsert the jack and remove the tire. It is recommended that you place the removed tire under your vehicle to ensure that you avoid possible damage to the vehicle if the jack fails. Then remove the axle nut and take out the stripping rotor.
Remove Bearing Hub Assembly
As soon as the brake rotor is removed, it is recommended to hammer the axle rod inwards to release it and move it inwards. Then move the hub as desired and remove the screws that hold the hub to the body. Remove the ABS sensor and then use a slide hammer to remove the hub from the stub axle. If there is high friction, use penetrating fluid and hammers to allow some external movement.
Once the hub is removed, you can easily see your bearing. Then remove the bearing from the hub and replace it with the new bearing. It is recommended that you use sandpaper and clean all nearby areas, i.e. the hub mounting area, from rust and deposits.
If your new bearing is equipped with ABS wire, remove the old ABS connection from hub and motor and connect the new bearing. Then screw all parts back together, tighten your axle, put the wheel cover on your tire, remove the jack, and you are ready to go.
Wheel bearings are an essential component of your vehicle. They help the wheel movement of the vehicle. A malfunction of the wheel bearings can either cause serious problems, or they can simply disturb you with their increasing noise. It will cost you a lot of money, but it is still recommended to make the changes as early as possible.