AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 0056B ACCREDITED

What Are Wheel Bearing Types and Their Warning Signs?

Without bearings, many apparatuses, mobile systems, and other applications could not operate optimally. Mobile systems necessitate bearings, allowing components like wheels to rotate with ease. Wheel bearings are just one example of a type of bearing commonly used in such systems.

Wheel bearings are critical for your wheels to work properly. This is especially the case for hubs, tires, and other assemblies, allowing them to work harmoniously. Due to the nature of their performance requirements, wheel bearings are susceptible to wear, and eventually, failure. As such, it is important to become familiar with the warning signs your wheel bearings may present, giving one ample time to replace them.

A wheel bearing consists of a metal ring or race with a set of steel balls. The hub positioned at the center of your wheels holds the bearings, allowing them to ride on the metal axle shaft. This configuration helps reduce friction when the wheel begins to rotate.

Keep in mind that wheel bearings are different from engine bearings. A major distinction lies in the lack of lubrication present for the wheel bearings. That being said, they must be tight enough so that water and road dust does not make its way into any gaps or clearances. As they support the entire weight of the vehicle while it is in motion, wheel bearings withstand abuse from rough roads, potholes, and lateral forces from turning.

Ball bearings are one of the most common types of wheel bearings, though other types are widely used as well. Some of these include tapered roller bearings that find use in trucks, and precision ball bearings which are designed for intense radial loads. Nonetheless, the warning signs for each remain the same with the biggest indicator being sound.

If you notice a grinding or grating noise coming from your wheel or tire, this may indicate that you have a bad wheel bearing. This is particularly true if the noise gets louder when the vehicle accelerates. There are several different noises one should be familiar with to determine if there is a bad wheel bearing.

A humming noise while driving can indicate a problem with the wheel bearings, tires, or CV joint. A squealing or growling noise is usually heard when you change speed or turn, providing an indication that the wheel bearings may be worn out. Lastly, a howling noise is a sign of a loose pinion-bearing preload or malfunctioning wheel bearings, especially if this noise is heard during sharp turns.  

Another telltale sign of a bad wheel bearing can be identified when you drive the car. If the vehicle is nonresponsive or less precise when steering, this may be an indication of a bad wheel bearing. While loose steering is not always due to bad bearings, it can be.

Another related phenomenon associated with a bad wheel bearing is “pulling.”  When driving the vehicle, if the car is veering away from your intended path, a bad wheel bearing may be the problem. Finally, you must always pay close attention to your tires. Rotating your tires on a regular basis can prevent wear on bearings and other assembly components.

If you find yourself in need of wheel bearings, roller bearings, or other related components, look no further than Part Orbit. With over 2 billion ready-to-purchase items at your disposal, part procurement has never been easier. We set ourselves apart from other distributors in our ever-expanding catalogs containing new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find items that no other entity has. Kickoff the purchasing process with a competitive quote which you can access through our Instant RFQ service and see how Part Orbit can fulfill your operational needs. 


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