Visionary movies set in a technologically advanced future have long imagined that cars could drive on frictionless spheres similar to Star Wars' BB-8. We're not there yet because cars still use wheels and tires to deal with the terrain, but modern cars would not be possible without different types of ball bearings. We're talking about ball bearings.
Almost every new car has a set of miniature ball bearings behind each wheel that allow the wheels to turn smoothly without interruption. When it comes to the major components of a car, though, their importance cannot be overstated.
What is a wheel bearing?
Wheel bearings are small metal balls housed in small rings designed to reduce rolling friction and allow the wheels of your car to spin freely while keeping the weight of the vehicle in check.
Where are wheel bearings located?
Wheel bearings are located inside the wheel hub and connect the wheel to the axle. Each wheel has its own set of wheel bearings.
Ball Bearings vs. Roller Bearings
The two most common types of wheel bearings are ball bearings and roller bearings. One type of wheel bearing uses rollers, which are basically a series of small cylinders placed inside a tapered circular housing. Roller bearings are usually not sealed, which is good for service but bad for sensitivity to contamination.
Ball bearings, however, use miniature balls with small contact points to facilitate rolling. Ball bearings are usually sealed, which is useful for preventing contamination, but they are usually not serviceable.
How long do wheel bearings last?
The life expectancy of wheel bearings depends on the manufacturer, daily operating conditions and driving loads, but they are usually expected to last at least 75,000-100,000 miles.
Symptoms of a bad wheel bearing
The good thing about wheel bearings is that you'll know when they're going bad, thanks to a few telltale symptoms. These are the signs you need to check for.
The most common symptom of a bad wheel bearing is that they make a strange noise when something shuts off. You may hear a humming, whirring, rumbling, rubbing or clicking sound, depending on how the wheel bearing fails.
Uneven Tire Wear
As ball bearings wear, they will begin to loosen and/or lose some of their effectiveness within their housings. As a result, the tires may wear unevenly.
Loose steering feel
No, the steering wheel itself will not feel loose, but the steering feel may. If the bearing is bad, it may create some play within the wheel assembly. If this happens, your steering may feel more fuzzy than usual.
Wheel Bearing & Hub Assembly
If a wheel bearing seal is damaged and the inside is contaminated with hard particles, or if it simply wears out over time, it may cause a rougher ride and vibration than usual.
Most modern wheel bearings are sealed, and for good reason. If any dirt, debris or other contaminants get into the bearing, it may reduce lubrication and increase friction. If it gets too hot, or if there is too much debris in the bearing, they may begin to lock up or grind. If the bearings lock up, the wheels may lock up.
Traction Control or ABS Failure
Almost all new wheel assemblies are equipped with built-in sensors to notify traction control, ABS, stability control and other driver assistance systems. If something inside the wheel bearing is not working properly, it may cause the system to malfunction or throw codes and warning lights.
If you want to get more information about the auto wheel bearing, welcome to contact us today or request a quote.