Is your car creating a whining or grinding noise coming from underneath it while you’re going down the road? Tracking down issues based only on noises is difficult and can confuse and throw off-track even the most seasoned mechanics. However, if this noise becomes louder as the car speeds up, a wheel bearing may be a potential issue. In this article, we will go through typical symptoms of a bad wheel bearing and ways of replacing it.

What is a wheel bearing?

When driving, the wheels are rotating around their axis, while the car itself is travelling in a linear motion. Wheel bearings are the components that a smooth and seamless transition between these two different motions. Despite their different forms and applications, all wheel bearings work on an identical principle and share similar components. There is a stationary outer ring inside the wheel hub and the inner ring that rotates together with the wheel. Between them there are one or more rows of steel cylinders or balls, whose task is to ensure smooth and effortless movement. Other components include side seals, roller cages and a grease that reduces friction.

Symptoms of a bad wheel bearing?

Besides the noises we already mentioned, there are other symptoms that can reveal if you have a bad wheel bearing. One of the most important things is to check what happens when going through fast bends. If the whining noise goes away while turning to the right, you have a bad left side wheel bearing. You may also lift the car to see what happens when spinning or rocking the wheels. With both suspension and brake components in good shape, any noise or play are a sign of a wheel bearing issue.

How do we replace a wheel bearing?

Most modern cars either use wheel bearings that come as a separate component, or wheel hubs with integrated bearings. Found mostly on rear axles, separate wheel bearings are simple in design and come with a lower price. However, replacing them requires several special tools that help get old bearings out of the hub and pushing new ones in. Although being more expensive, wheel hubs with integrated bearings come with a benefit of easier and trouble-free installation. Most cars today have this type of bearing on front axles. In the end, as wheel bearings have a significant safety impact, we recommend you always replace them in pairs.

How important is this service?

A bad wheel bearing will suffer from increased friction while rolling, which causes excessive heat and wear. Besides nasty noises and vibrations, this can also end up with a bearing falling apart all together. Being the only link between the wheel and your car, this can cause a very dangerous accident. If you notice any of these symptoms, check and replace the wheel bearings on your car with no delay. Although this isn’t very complicated, consider hiring a professional to do this job. At FixMyCar, we have certified and seasoned technicians that can come to your home and solve any wheel bearing issues. This will ensure that all important components are checked and your car is ready to hit the road.