Wheel bearings of a vehicle comes under the category of low maintenance parts, unlike other motor parts. However, this does not mean that they are everlasting parts and will never need maintenance. Like any other automobile parts, even wheel bearings can undergo wear and tear, and exhibit signs of a bad wheel bearing.
Earlier understanding the signs of bad wheel bearing was easier enough as in the older car models wheel bearings were known to make a lot of loud noises.
Now with technology and soundproofing in modern cars, it becomes difficult to distinguish between signs of wheel bearing failure and signs of other parts failure.
What is wheel bearing?
A wheel bearing is an important part of the wheel assembly that connects the wheel with the axle. It is a set of steel balls or tapered bearings which are utilized and held together by a metal ring. This enables the wheel to rotate very smoothly with minimum friction. Wheel bearings are crucial components in terms of safety that are designed to sustain radial and axial loads caused by gravitation, acceleration, and braking forces, so they need to be replaced if they stop functioning.
A wheel bearing can have an average life span of 136,000 to 160,000km. This number gives a clear idea, regarding when should you first introspect in your wheel bearings maintenance before it shows signs of bad wheel bearing.
Symptoms of wheel bearing problems
Signs of bad wheel bearing vary as per its severity. In some cases, it can very difficult to detect them, in many it is easily recognizable. Here are some indicators of a worn wheel bearing or wheel damage that needs instant repair or replacements.
1. Snapping or clicking sounds
If you hear any sort of noise close to snapping when your vehicle is in motion, it indicates that damage has occurred in the outer CV-joint. However, it can be related to serious wheel bearing endplay, usually due to inadequate clamping. This noise is mostly heard when one attempts cornering or sharp turns.
2. Grinding sounds
A bad wheel bearing noise is a clear indication of wheel bearing issues. If you hear grinding noises from your vehicle there is a possible mechanical damage in a wheel-end system. This issue is like a roller or raceway damage. The noises can be heard when taking turns or when the load is shifted.
3. Knocking sounds
Knocking sounds are a signal in wear and tear issues occurring from the CV-joints or the U-joints. This can also be caused due to backlashes in different gears. Knocking sounds are generally not associated with bearing issues, and can be heard when the vehicle shifts to change directions or take reverse or forwards transitioning from accelerating.
4. Growling sounds
Growling sounds are louder noises and occur when a tire, electrical, or drivetrain components are in problem. Predominantly the noises or vibration due to wheel bearings is present when driving in a straight path. These noises intensify when the vehicle turns the steering wheel slightly to either of the directions.
5. Vibrations occurring at constant speed
Vibrations are linked with worn-out damaged suspension parts, tire issues which are signs of bad wheel bearings. Hence vibrations are the most indicative of hub or bearing damage.
6. Wheel vibrations and wobble sounds
One can feel wheel vibrations due to damaged or worn tire, wheel or suspension components. If the problem is related to hub or bearing, this normally indicates the loss of clamp or bearing with extreme mechanical damage. It can occur when lug nuts are not properly torqued.
7. Side pulling
Do you feel that your vehicle shifts to one side when you apply brakes? If yes, then this due to defective caliper or equalizer which is a sign of car wheel bearing failure. This can also occur due to worn brakes or rotors. Even critical looseness of bearings can cause excessive runout, which may cause the brakes to pulsate or pull. One of the most common causes is the warped rotor due to the caliper not retracting.
8. Uneven tire wear
There are many causes of abnormal tire wear. The most common are worn or damaged suspension components, misalignment, improper inflation, or tire selection. While extreme bearing wear or looseness can cause abnormal tire wear, it is typically related to other failure modes.
9. ABS Failure
In the most extreme cases, interior and exterior sensors in the ABS can be damaged due to excessive movement caused by too much vehicle end-play.
This exhibits a lack or loss of bearing clamp. This result due to mechanical breakup or damage. Adding on to this in designs where the sensors are mounted externally, sensor damage can result from corrosion, stones, and other hazards.
Wheel bearing failure sounds
Like any motor parts, wheel bearings can undergo severe issues, and one should be ready to fix it or at least recognize it with self-care maintenance tips. However, primarily you should know what are the possible reasons that result in wheel bearing failure.
- Poor driving practices can be a major reason, as impacts from driving over potholes, rough bumps, rash driving, hitting curbstones can severely damage a wheel bearing and reduce its lifespan.
- If inappropriate tools are used to install the wheel bearings, like a hammer or an impact wrench, it can cause damage to the outer parts and inner fittings of the wheels and bearings causing the wheel bearing to fail before its warranty time. Also making use of old accessories like bolts, nuts, chips, or seals instead of compatible and new once can add to more issues.
- The quality of wheel bearing comes first than anything else. If the quality of wheel bearings is not up to the mark, none of the fitting methods, driving practices will save your wheel bearings from getting damaged. Always trust original parts like ford spare parts, ford Figo parts and ford eco sports part, when it comes to installing good quality wheel bearings.
- Signs of wheel bad bearings depends heavily upon what conditions prevail over your driving practices. The conditions can be driving through mud, dust, road salt, deep water, and more. If you have been driving in these conditions excessively your wheel bearings may have reacted to the minerals, salts, pollutants found in such waters and mud holes which is not good.
- Have you ever paid attention to your car modifications? Trying to fit bigger or wider rims, tires with much lower thread walls, suspension springs, stiff shock absorbers can cause higher loads on the wheel bearings which causes more wear and tear. Stick to prescribed rings, tires shock absorbers that are compatible with your car.
How to control wheel bearing failure symptoms in an automobile?
The above points gave a clear idea about what can be the most persistent sounds of a failing wheel bearing system which is generally ignored. Here are a few more prevalent symptoms of a bad wheel bearings,
1. A humming, grinding, growling noises that intensifies with acceleration or coasting of the vehicle.
2. A loud constant whining noise prevalent when the car is in motion
3. Clunking noises when the car takes a sharp turn or shifts loads from side to side.
4. Vague steering and intemperate play in steering wheel.
5. Vibrations occurring due to increased vehicle speed or as car makes turns.
6. ABS malfunctioning due to failure of ABS sensors which is integrated in the wheel end bearing.
To control or stop these problems persistent in wheel bearings damage, replacement of parts is the best option. There are many advantages of genuine spare parts, and hence car spare parts always stand beneficial for such situations in a vehicle.
The condition of the entire wheel bearing system to completely fall off suddenly is very rare. Yet chances should not be taken with the safety of your asset. It is best to just avoid driving on uneven roads or heavily conditioned roads, in deep waters for adventure when you realize that there is something wrong with your automobiles wheel bearings.
Always make it a habit of reaching a good service station once a year and get all your automobile parts checked and repaired to avoid any faults and life-threatening problems, they can lead to car accidents. Never use cheap quality parts in the vehicle and trust the reliable once. Once you know all is set, your car will work as smoothly as you wanted!
Your car wheel bearing system helps in providing a smooth and comfortable ride even on tough bumps and roads. Wheels carry the entire load of a vehicle, and therefore they must stay in perfect condition to avoid wheel bearing failure danger.
As with all mechanical parts, there are problems, the same can happen with your car wheel bearings. You can recognize those symptoms and get them repaired or replaced easily with Smart Parts Exports. Sit back and enjoy your car ride with ease!