Wheel bearings are an integral component of the car's suspension. These ensure smooth rotation of the wheels and also support the radial and the thrust load. The weight of the vehicle and the thrust load that the wheels are subjected to while taking steep turns, is borne by them. These also help in minimizing the friction between the wheel and the axle. It is the smooth wheel movement that ensures a smooth ride which is why these must be changed as and when needed. If you have been experiencing steering problems or often hear grinding noises, creaking sounds or unusual vibrations while driving, you must have your car's suspension system checked. Given below is some information on the common bad wheel bearing symptoms along with ways to tackle this car problem.
Why Do Wheel Bearings Get Damaged?
The mechanical devices in your car are constantly in use while you are on the road. While the bearings are engineered in such a way that they can support the vehicle's weight and facilitate smooth movement of the wheels, these can also reel under stress due to excessive use of the vehicle. So, if your job requires you to travel a lot by road or you love going for long rides every now and then, not only will your car eat up miles, the bearings may also get worn-out sooner than you may expect. This problem must be addressed at the earliest. These can get damaged due to various reasons. Leakage from the oil seals that coat the bearings is one such issue that needs to be taken care of. At times, dirt may enter the bearing cavity, and hamper the working of the bearings. If the seals of the bearings are loose and water manages to seep through, these may rust due to exposure to water. If such damaged bearings are not replaced soon, the safety of those traveling by such a vehicle would be compromised.
Common Signs of Damaged Wheel Bearings
This problem that must be fixed immediately. Road disasters that may be caused due to this problem could be averted if one pays attention to the aspect of car maintenance. If one is aware of the signs of such common car problems, one can make necessary repairs. Here is some information on the signs of damaged bearings along with tips on what a car owner must do on noticing such signs.
Noises from the Wheel
If squealing noises get louder as your vehicle picks up speed, it is indicative of worn-out or damaged bearings. So, keep your ears open for any unusual noises that may arise from the wheel or the tires as you turn your vehicle. Car repair is definitely needed under these circumstances.
Looseness in the Wheel
Does the wheel appear to be loose? Worn-out wheel hub bearings are most likely to cause looseness. The loose wheel hub and spindle will eventually create looseness in the wheel as well as the tires. To check for this problem, raise your vehicle and pull on the steering wheel.
Wheel Movement feels Restricted
Damaged bearings can have an adverse impact on the life of the tires. Abnormal tire and wheel play can cause significant wear and tear to the tire units. The wheels can even get separated from the vehicle. This car problem can also cause complete lack of control with the steering wheel.
Slack Front Suspension
Faulty bearings especially in the front two tires can cause slackness in the bushes comprising the control arm and ends of the rod. This may cause the front tires to sway. Thus overload on the vehicle and lack of lubrication might hamper your car's suspension system.
How To Tackle this Car Problem
Though it is always better to seek the services of an auto mechanic, one can also conduct a self-check. Here are some instructions that you should follow to do so.
Use the car jack to raise the vehicle off the ground and try spinning the back wheels. If the movement is accompanied with a scraping noise, damaged bearings might be the source of this car problem. An unusually free movement is also a sign of worn-out bearings. Also, check the hub's temperature after driving for about 15 minutes. If it is warm, attention needs to be paid. Remove the wheel, hub and brakes. Look for any scratches or change in the shape of the bearings. Check if they are well-lubricated.
Change Damaged Wheel Bearings
It all boils down to how well you maintain your car. So start taking care of your car before it is too late. Do replace the tire bearings, every 40,000 to 50,000 miles. If you are a car junkie and a good hand with tools, then you might as well perform this self check, however, it would be better to let a mechanic check the critical units of the tire assembly. The hub, brakes and wheels might need an overhauling. If a delay is made in replacing the bearing, it can prove to be dangerous.
The smooth functioning of your car depends a lot on proper wheel bearings, so pay heed to any grinding or squeaking noises. If you detect any of the aforementioned signs in your car, have this car problem fixed at the earliest.