Automotive wheel bearings are small but very strong devices that play a very important role. They sit between a rotating wheel and stationery hub and help ensure the vehicle's safe operation. Yet as with anything else mechanical, issues can arise. Eventually, you may need to repair those bearings to ensure uninterrupted and safe travel. How do you know if that time is upon you?
Keeping You Safe
The primary purpose of the wheel bearing is to allow the wheel to rotate with minimum friction. These bearings are placed in between the drive axle and the brake disc, and each bearing is filled with tiny metal balls or tapers. Everything is held in place by an inner and outer ring that is tightly sealed and packed with grease.
Bearings At Work
As a car travels along the road, it will encounter various forces and obstacles, and the wheel bearings allow the wheel to move no matter how much radial or axial load is being placed on the parts. These devices are quite remarkable, but they do need to put up with a lot of stress.
Signs Of A Problem
If your wheel bearings begin to fail, you will probably notice a strange noise when you are driving. This can manifest in different forms. For example, you may notice a distinct "click" as the wheel turns through one rotation. Alternatively, there may be a low-pitched hum or even a grinding noise, depending on how badly damaged the wheel bearing actually is. You may also notice a noise when you drive over a bump and feel the vibration through the steering wheel.
As matters progress, the vehicle may start to pull to one side and especially when you apply the brakes. You may also get a warning light on the dashboard, as a defective wheel bearing can often cause the anti-lock braking system sensor to trip.
Most modern wheel bearings are self-contained and should be replaced as one unit. To do this, you need special tools and a good degree of knowledge, so it's best to hand this type of work over to a qualified mechanic.
Take Prompt Action
Don't delay if you suspect a bad wheel bearing. In the worst-case scenario, the bearing could seize altogether, which would cause the wheel to lock in place or even fall off. If this happened at speed, it could cause a serious accident.
Reach out to an auto repair shop to find out more.