Bad wheel bearings is one problem which is likely to come heavy on your vehicle if you don't take the necessary measures at the earliest; and to make sure that your vehicle is not vulnerable to this problem, you have to be well-versed with the causes and symptoms of this problem.
Bad Wheel Bearing Causes
Wheel bearings help in reducing rotational friction, and help the wheel rotate freely to facilitate smooth movement of the vehicle. A bad wheel bearing, which hampers this very smooth movement of the vehicle, can be caused as a result of quite a few underlying problems. One of the foremost problem happens to be the accumulation of dirt and debris in its housing. Even though the wheel bearings are housed in a safe manner using oil seals, the chances of these oil seals getting damaged and dirt or debris reaching them cannot be ruled out. In fact, the chances of this are more when you don't pay enough attention to regular maintenance of the vehicle. When dirt gets accumulated on the bearing balls, it causes tremendous wear and tear of the wheel bearings, which in turn, reduces their lifespan.
Grease is used in these wheel bearings in order to lubricate them, and inhibit problems like overheating and corrosion that are caused as a result of continuous friction. Inadequate lubrication can also bring down the lifespan of a wheel bearing by a great extent as lack of lubrication subjects them to intense wear and tear. Heat produced as a result of continuous driving can also add to your woes by damaging the wheel bearings, and so does excessive load and misalignment. Other than all these problems, wheel bearings of a vehicle can go bad after a certain period even when you put in all the maintenance efforts, as they have a lifespan of certain years. In such circumstances, you are left with no option but to replace them to avoid further damage.
Why is it Dangerous?
The consequences of bad wheel bearings range from depreciated ride quality to loss of steering control, with the latter being a perfect recipe for disaster. It can also affect the stability of hub and tires, which can result in rough ride. Continuing to drive the vehicle in such circumstances can be dangerous as vibration and friction caused by failed wheel bearings can further worsen the condition, and cause problems in maneuvering the vehicle or functioning of brakes. Experts are of the opinion that driving a vehicle with damaged wheel bearings is as good as calling for a disaster, especially when you are driving at high speed.
How to Check for it?
When wheel bearings turn bad, you are bound to see quite a few changes in the functioning of the vehicle. Some of the most obvious symptoms of bad wheel bearing include squeaky noise coming from the wheels, restricted wheel movement, problems with steering and braking, etc. The noise produced in this case tends to change as you continue to accelerate as friction continues to increase with speed. One of the simplest method of checking wheel bearing is to jack the vehicle and rotate the wheel with your hand to see whether the rotation is smooth or not. If there is some problem in rotation (or if the wheel is wiggling for that matter), it is a sign of some problem with the bearings which can be diagnosed at the workshop.
Taking into consideration the severity of this problem, it is but obvious that it cannot be taken lightly. Even if you have the slightest feeling that there is some problem with the way your vehicle is functioning, it's better to go ahead and have it checked by someone who has professional expertise. When it comes to car problems, your laid-back attitude can make a hole in your pocket even before you realize it.