Why Wheel Bearings Have Such an Important Role to Play

Posted on: 3 June 2022

On a typical vehicle, some parts may be considered to be more important than others. However, few have the level of importance associated with a wheel bearing as this diminutive part supports the vehicle's entire weight. It is also a component that allows your car or truck to take corners at speed. Why do you need to pay a lot of attention to this part, and how do you know something is going wrong?

Careful Engineering

Engineers understand how important each wheel bearing is and put a great deal of time and effort into making them from high-quality parts designed to last. Each bearing is self-contained and is made up of miniature taper or ballbearings, tightly packed into a waterproof sealed metal container. Within the bearing is a copious amount of grease that is designed to allow the bearings to move back and forth. The grease will also absorb a tremendous amount of heat and vibration while reducing dangerous levels of friction.

When Damage Strikes

In theory, the bearing should last for years, and they are meant to be self-lubricating. Still, they can sometimes be damaged should you hit a curb or pothole at speed and at an unfavourable angle. In this case, the outer casing may become damaged, allowing debris and moisture to get into the inner cavity. When this happens, the grease will become contaminated and not be able to perform as it should. This will cause the bearings to degrade and ultimately fail. At the same time, this part will not be able to deal with the constant adjustments needed when the vehicle is in motion, which could cause knock-on damage to other components.

Clearly, you should do your best to avoid any sharp impacts, but sometimes this is unavoidable. Be on the lookout for strange noises at any time, as these could be early warning signs of a damaged wheel bearing.

Signs of a Problem

For example, you may hear a rhythmic, clicking noise when the vehicle accelerates, especially when it is going around the corner. Or, there may be a constant humming noise that tends to get louder as the car accelerates. When you apply the brakes, the vehicle may put sharply to the same side as the damaged wheel bearing, and you may certainly feel a strong vibration through the steering wheel.

Being Aware

Spare a thought for the humble wheel bearing and what it has to do to keep your vehicle on the straight and narrow. Always take the car in for a scheduled service so that a technician can evaluate the health of each bearing and replace them whenever necessary. 

For more information, contact a local auto repair shop.