If you are a vehicle owner who still doesn’t know a lot about wheel bearings – what they are, why they need to be looked after, and how to protect them – then don’t worry, you certainly aren’t alone. However, because it is good to know these things for your own safety, read on for essential information you should know about your wheel bearings.
1. Wheel bearings are essential parts of your car.
First and foremost, you may be wondering what exactly wheel bearings are and what role they play in your car. In simplest terms, a wheel bearing is a pair of steel balls that are held together by a metal ring known as a race. They are essential to the car as they assist the wheels in spinning quickly with as little friction as possible as well as support the weight of the vehicle.
Not just in cars, wheel bearings can be found in all types of vehicles ranging from bicycles to aircraft and, of course, cars. Generally, in your car, the wheel bearings can be found sitting on a metal axle shaft that goes inside the hub.
2. Wheel bearings need to be looked after.
While they are considered pretty basic parts, the fact of the matter is that automotive wheel bearings need to be looked after and adequately maintained to ensure that they keep working properly for your car. In fact, wheel bearings that are made of high-quality steel and are properly looked after can generally last up to 100,000 miles.
The three leading causes of wheel bearing failure are:
- Poor installation
- A damaged wheel bearing seal
- Damage from an accident
That being said, most cars need their wheel bearings replaced when the mileage is above 80,000 miles, while vehicles with older circle bearings should be regularly looked at after the 60,000-mile mark.
3. Heat and water are the main enemies of wheel bearings.
As they are made up of hardened steel, wheel bearings can generally endure a lot of physical damage. However, they are unable to withstand heat and water. Any heat that results from a lack of lubrication can destroy a wheel bearing, as will water that thrusts through a sealed bearing.
To keep them properly lubricated and protected, wheel bearings are packed with heavy grease and then sealed to ensure the grease stays in, and that water and dirt are kept out. If the seal begins to leak, then you are likely to develop a problem as the grease can become corrupted suddenly. This, in turn, can lead the wheel bearings to overheat and subsequently decline.
4. Wheel bearings let you know when there is an issue.
Luckily, wheel bearings are rather “outspoken” when it comes to letting you know there is an issue and so you will quickly be able to “hear” that something is wrong. In other words, if you hear any unusual sound coming from your wheels, then there is a good chance that there is something wrong with the wheel bearings.
Generally, an upset wheel bearing makes a sound that can be compared to chirping, growling, or rumbling. Additionally, you may find that the noise becomes louder when you are driving at certain speeds.
5. You can make wheel bearings last longer.
Obviously, as a vehicle owner, you want to be doing everything that you can to look after your car to ensure that you get the maximum possible usage out of it. This includes looking after your wheel bearings!
Some steps you can take to make your wheel bearings last longer include purchasing high-quality wheel bearings from a reputable bearing supplier as those that are made from cheap materials often fail early.
Also, utilize dependable grease that is formulated for high temperatures to minimize the amount of friction that bearings are exposed to, and make sure to replace the axle nuts when needed.
Are you a vehicle owner who has recently had problems with your wheel bearings?
Do you have any tips and tricks to share with the community regarding how you dealt with the issue?
Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!
Hassanein Alwan is the Managing Director of Mineral Circles Bearings with more than 10 years’ experience in the bearing industry’s technical support division, sales and marketing, plus strategic business development consultancy.