Wheel bearings are integral components of your vehicle’s safety and performance. Without proper maintenance, they can fail and cause expensive repairs. The signs of bad wheel bearings can vary depending on which ones are affected, the front or rear wheel bearings. In this blog post, we’ll explore the symptoms of bad front and rear wheel bearings and discuss their replacement cost. We’ll also provide helpful tips for diagnosing and preventing these problems in order to keep you safe on the roads. By understanding what to look out for, you can avoid costly repairs down the line. Additionally, we’ll discuss why it’s important to have a certified mechanic inspect your wheel bearings regularly in order to ensure optimal performance from your vehicle in all conditions.
What is a Wheel Bearing?
A wheel bearing is an important part of a vehicle’s suspension system. Wheel bearings are composed of tapers or steel balls and a metal ring, facilitating the wheel’s motion with little to no friction. At the center of each vehicle’s wheels is an empty metal component known as a hub; inside these hubs fit snug wheel bearings which provide further lubrication by riding on metallic axle shafts.
With this technology in place, cars can spin their wheels at speeds never before achievable! It helps to support the weight of the vehicle and allows it to move smoothly over bumps in the road. A wheel bearing also absorbs shock and vibration while providing stability to a car or truck’s wheels during turns. Wheel bearings are lubricated with grease so that they can resist wear from heat and vibration caused by road conditions.
Components Related to Bearing Assembly
The bearing assembly is a crucial component of many machines and devices, providing the necessary structural support to enable them to move and operate effectively. The basic components that make up a bearing assembly are:
Bearings are circular objects used as pivots that allow two parts to move relative to one another without wearing out or creating excessive friction. They typically consist of an inner ring, an outer ring, and rolling elements (ball bearings). Bearings come in different sizes and can accommodate various load capacities depending on the application.
A race is a cylindrical-shaped device that fits around the bearing and provides support and guidance to the bearing as it moves. Races or rings also add strength and stability to the assembly, ensuring that the structure remains in place under normal working conditions.
Seals are used to protect bearings from dust, debris, and other contaminants that might damage them over time. They usually consist of a rubber or plastic component that is placed between the inner and outer race of the bearing, creating a barrier to prevent anything from entering or exiting the bearing.
Nuts and Bolts
Nuts and bolts are used to secure the races/rings in place and to fasten them together. The size of the nut and bolt required depends on the application; for example, small-scale bearing assemblies might require only a few bolts, while larger-scale ones may require many more.
Washers are flat pieces of metal that are placed between the nut and bolt to help evenly distribute the force applied when tightening or loosening them, preventing them from becoming loose over time.
Bearing grease is a type of lubricant that helps reduce friction and wear on the bearings, allowing them to move freely without excessive force or heat buildup. It also helps protect the bearings from corrosion and other damage caused by moisture or high temperatures.
Altogether, these components provide the necessary structural support for a bearing assembly and ensure that it operates reliably and efficiently. It’s important to use the correct components for each application to ensure that the assembly functions properly and provides optimal performance.
Causes of Bad Front & Rear Wheel Bearings
There are several potential reasons for wheel bearing failure, with the following being some of the most common causes:
When driving in extremely wet conditions, the water that is splashed up onto the wheel bearings can cause significant rust and corrosion. Over time, this can lead to a decrease in the bearings’ performance and thus, lead to premature failure.
Wheel bearings must be regularly lubricated to prevent premature failure. If they are not, then the bearing will start to wear out quickly due to friction and heat. This can cause excessive heat build-up which may result in bearing seizure or failure. Also, If they aren’t adequately lubricated, the bearings can become corroded and over time, lose their effectiveness.
Wheel bearings are designed to withstand certain loads but if they are overloaded beyond their capabilities, then this can lead to premature bearing failure. Similarly, if the load is distributed unevenly across the axles then this can cause a significant amount of stress on the bearings and also lead to premature bearing failure.
Continuous driving in rough conditions can cause premature bearing failure. Poor road surfaces, potholes, and other obstacles can cause excessive wear on the bearings, resulting in decreased performance and eventually, bearing failure.
Over-Tightening of Mounting Bolts
Over-tightening of the mounting bolts on the wheel bearing can cause excessive friction which, in turn, leads to premature bearing failure. Similarly, if the mounting bolts are not tightened correctly then this can also lead to an imbalance in the axle, resulting in bearing wear and potential failure.
Tires Not Balanced
If the tires on a vehicle are not balanced properly, then this can cause additional strain on the wheel bearings. Unbalanced tires increase the rotational force which can put excessive strain on the bearings and over time, cause them to fail.
Incorrectly Fitted Bearings
If wheel bearings are not installed correctly, then this can cause a number of problems. Poorly fitted bearings can cause the wheel to move excessively which can lead to increased vibration, noise, and eventually bearing failure. Most of the time it is best to have a professional mechanic install your wheel bearings to ensure that they are done correctly.
Using low-quality parts and components can often lead to premature bearing failure. It is important to use bearings that are designed for the specific make and model of vehicle, as otherwise they may not fit correctly or withstand the pressures of driving.
Car accidents can cause significant damage to the wheel bearings and suspension components of a vehicle. If there is a collision, then it is important to check all of the wheel bearings for signs of wear or damage before driving again as this could lead to premature failure.
These are all potential causes of bad front and rear wheel bearings. It is important to be aware of these factors when inspecting your vehicle’s wheel bearings, as this can help to prevent premature wear and failure.
What Are Bad Wheel Bearing Symptoms?
The Wheel bearing symptoms can be easy to detect. Typically, a faulty wheel bearing will produce a few telltale signs that alert the driver of an issue. If any of the following symptoms are present, it is recommended that you have the bearing inspected and replaced if necessary:
Are you hearing a loud, grinding noise emanating from your tires? You may have bad wheel bearings! When these components lose their lubricity and accumulate lots of heat, they create an uncomfortable sound. It’s almost as if two metal pieces are being dragged against one another. Generally, you only hear the sound from a single wheel instead of them all due to uneven wear. The noise is most audible when changing directions or turning your vehicle. To restore peace and quiet in your vehicle, replacing these bad bearings is essential.
Reduced Acceleration When Driving
The wheels are the only components connecting your car to the road. If they fail to turn, your vehicle won’t accelerate. This can be very dangerous in certain driving conditions; it’s important to check for any signs of a bad wheel bearing as soon as possible. Generally, bad bearings will have an effect on acceleration, especially during higher speeds such as freeway driving. You may even feel a slight vibration in the steering wheel as you accelerate.
Uneven Tire Wear
A malfunctioning wheel bearing can cause the tire to wear out unevenly. When wheel bearings wear out, they do not usually do so evenly. This means that the corresponding tire will be worn more than the other tires of a vehicle, leading to uneven tire wear. As a result, you may notice visible signs of wear on just one side of the tire. This is because the weight distribution gets thrown off when bearings break down, and it causes extra friction on certain parts of the tire.
Normal tire wear is generally even across all tires and results from natural driving conditions. Therefore, if you find that your tires are wearing unevenly then it could be a sign that your wheel bearings are in need of repair or replacement.
It is important to note that there can be other causes of uneven tire wear such as poor wheel alignment, unbalanced tires, and more. You should not assume it is the wheel bearings unless these symptoms match up with others. If you think you may have an issue with your wheel bearings, consult a professional and have them check it out.
Vehicle Pulls to One Side
Have you been driving straight only to find that your vehicle is pulling to one side? This can be a sign of bad wheel bearings. When bearings become worn, they will cause the tire to have more drag on one side than the other.
This drag can cause the car to shift and pull in either direction and can also lead to excess wear on your tires. If left unchecked, this can cause a range of issues such as compromised steering control and uneven tire wear. If you notice that your car is pulling while driving straight, it could be due to bad wheel bearings and should be inspected as soon as possible.
Are you feeling a vibration coming through your steering wheel? This is often the result of bad wheel bearings. The vibrations occur because of an imbalance in the bearing, which causes it to move around and create a shaking sensation when driving at high speeds.
This can be dangerous as it can make it hard to control your vehicle and maneuver safely on the roads. If you notice vibrations coming through your steering wheel, this could be a sign of bad wheel bearings and should not be ignored.
Are you noticing any grease leaking from the hub or wheel area? This could be another indication that your wheel bearing is starting to fail. As these components wear out, they can allow grease to escape and drip onto the ground. If you spot any greasy fluid underneath your car, it is important to have a professional inspect the wheel bearings as they may need to be replaced.
If the wheel bearing is not in optimal condition, it can lead to an error in the anti-lock braking system (ABS), putting drivers at risk of a potential accident. The ABS works in tandem with a wheel speed sensor positioned on the hub. When there’s an issue with the bearing, it can trigger instability and vibrations which will eventually damage the sensor. When this occurs, the ABS warning light will be activated as the system is unable to operate correctly.
Excess Wobble or Play in Wheels
If you feel any excess wobble or play when the wheel is rotated, that can be a sign of bad bearings. To check for this symptom, lift each corner of the vehicle while it is on level ground. Then try to rotate the wheel by hand. If there is more movement than seems normal, then it could be a sign that your wheel bearing is in need of repair or replacement.
It is important to note that there can be other causes of excess play in the wheels such as a bent axle, loose suspension components, and more. Therefore, you should not assume it is the wheel bearings unless these symptoms match up with others. If you think you may have an issue with your wheel bearings, consult a professional and have them inspect it.
Wheel Separating from the Car
If you have reached this stage, it signals that your wheel bearings are beyond repair and irreversibly damaged. This will cause the wheels to completely detach from the car if you’re driving on a highway. Being unable to steer in such a situation can be extremely dangerous for both yourself and others around you.
Smoke Coming Out of the Wheel
The final symptom of bad wheel bearings is smoke coming from the wheels. This is a sign that the bearing has completely failed and is generating excess heat, which causes the grease to burn off. If you spot any smoke or smell burning coming out of your wheel area, it is important to stop driving immediately and inspect the wheel bearings.
In conclusion, if any of these symptoms sound familiar to you then it is best to have your wheel bearings inspected by a professional. Ignoring the issue can lead to further damage and even potentially dangerous situations while driving. Make sure that you are aware of the signs and take action as soon as possible.
What are the risks of driving with bad wheel bearings?
Bad wheel bearings can cause a number of safety risks. If a wheel bearing is damaged or worn, it can lead to loose wheel nuts, which may result in the wheel coming off while driving and potentially causing an accident. Additionally, bad wheel bearings can cause excessive tire wear due to the additional friction created by the poor fit between the bearing and the wheel. The increased friction also puts extra strain on the wheel, which can lead to more frequent and expensive repairs. Bad wheel bearings can also cause poor handling due to the uneven weight distribution caused by an improperly aligned wheel. Finally, bad wheel bearings can have an adverse effect on fuel economy, as it causes the wheels to work harder and requires more energy to rotate. Therefore, it is important to regularly check and maintain your wheel bearings, as the risks associated with bad ones can be very dangerous.
Factors Affecting Wheel Bearing Replacement Cost
There are a number of factors that can affect the cost of wheel bearing replacement. Here are some of the most common ones.
Vehicle Make and Model
Wheel bearing replacement costs can vary greatly depending on what make and model of your vehicle. Luxury vehicles often have more expensive parts, as do newer models that utilize advanced technology. It’s important to check with a qualified mechanic or auto body shop before getting a quote for the job.
OEM vs. Aftermarket Replacement
In some cases, you may have the option of replacing your wheel bearings with either Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or aftermarket parts. OEM parts are usually more expensive but tend to last longer and provide better performance. Aftermarket parts are typically cheaper but may not be as reliable or durable as OEM parts.
The type of wheel bearing can also affect the cost of replacement. Tapered roller bearings are usually more expensive than ball-type or hub-bearing assemblies, and this is because they are more complex and require more time to install.
Serviceable vs. Unserviceable Bearings
When purchasing new wheel bearings, you may have the option of buying serviceable or unserviceable bearings. Serviceable bearings are pre-assembled and ready to be installed in your vehicle, while unserviceable parts require some assembly before they can be used. Unserviceable bearings typically cost more than serviceable ones because of this added labor.
Location and Availability of Parts
The cost of wheel bearing replacement may also depend on the availability and location of parts. If you’re in a rural area, you may have to pay more for parts due to their limited availability. Similarly, if the parts are hard to find, you may have to pay more for them as well.
Mechanic vs DIY
Finally, you’ll also want to consider the cost of labor when replacing your wheel bearings. If you choose to do the job yourself with a DIY kit, you can save some money. However, if you choose to have a mechanic or auto body shop do the work for you, the cost of labor will be factored into the total cost of the job.
These are just some of the factors that can affect the cost of wheel bearing replacement. It’s important to consider all of them before making a decision, as the cost can vary depending on the type of part, where you buy it from, and who does the work.
Average Cost to Replace Front, Rear, and Hub Wheel Bearings
Here is the estimate of the cost to replace the wheel bearings front and rear depending on the type of vehicle:
Front Wheel Bearings
The cost of replacing your front wheel bearings can vary quite significantly depending on certain factors such as the make and model of your vehicle, as well as where you take it for repairs.
Generally speaking, if you need to replace both front wheel bearings then you should expect to pay between $260 and $480 dollars. This consists of parts costing roughly $120 to $200 dollars, plus labor costs between $140 and $280 dollars. It is also worth noting that large trucks, sports cars, and luxury cars may require more expensive parts which could add extra costs to the repair job overall.
If however you only need one side of your bearings replaced instead of both then the total cost should average around $130-$220 with parts being priced around $60-$100 and labor being charged at approximately $70-$140 per side.
Rear Wheel Bearings
Replacing your rear wheel bearings can be an expensive job, costing anywhere from $240 to $460 for both sides. The parts alone will cost around $100 to $180 on average, with the labor costs ranging from $140 to $280 for both rear wheel bearings. However, if you are only replacing one side then the price is typically around $120 to $240 – with the parts costing between $50 and $90 and labor being approximately $70 to $140.
Rear Hub Bearings
Many vehicles are equipped with a rear hub bearing assembly, which allows the wheel bearings to be installed as an entire unit. This is different from simply replacing individual bearings, as it requires replacing the whole hub assembly instead. The cost of such a project can vary greatly depending on the model of the car and the complexity of its construction. Generally, customers should expect to spend around $400 – $800 for both sides of the axle. Although parts may cost more, labor costs are usually less than with a standard bearing replacement.
How are wheel bearings replaced?
Replacing wheel bearings is a labor-intensive job, and there are two conflicting schools of thought when it comes to this process.
One school of thought suggests that you only replace the bad bearing while the other recommends replacing them in pairs. The latter is more logical because since wheel bearings are installed at the same time, there is a higher chance that the other bearing may be going bad too.
The first step in replacing wheel bearings is to remove the wheels from the hub assembly. This involves taking off the brake caliper, rotor, and caliper mount in order to expose the hub assembly. For front wheel bearings, you will also need to disconnect and remove any components related to struts, control arms, or tie rods from the hub assembly before taking out the axle itself.
When dealing with press-on wheel bearings, you will need to press out the old bearing from its seat in order for it to be removed safely. Once all of these steps have been completed, it is possible to install a new bearing by pressing it into place securely and then reassembling everything in reverse order.
In newer models of vehicles, however, non-serviceable hub assemblies are often used – meaning that you will have no choice but to replace the entire assembly if your wheel bearings ever go bad since they cannot be pressed out easily.
How Do I Check My Wheel Bearings?
Identifying a malfunctioning wheel bearing can be hard to determine, however, there are several ways you can assess its condition. These include;
Touch the Wheel
The first method involves physically feeling for any movement in the wheel itself. Take off your tire and assess the wheel by pushing it around gently. If you have any movement or odd noises, then it is likely that your wheel bearing needs to be looked at.
Use OBD Scanner
For newer cars, an OBD scanner can be used to detect faults with a car’s wheel hub bearings. A sensor is attached to the hub which sends signals about its condition directly to the scanner. This makes it easy for mechanics to see whether or not there is something wrong with the bearing without needing to take apart the entire assembly.
Feel and Listen
The third way you can check your wheel bearing is by listening carefully while driving at different speeds. If you hear any kind of knocking or howling noise coming from one particular corner, then this could be indicative of a bad bearing. If this is ignored, then further damage could be caused which could result in more expensive repairs being required later on down the line.
Let The Mechanic Check Your Car
It is always best practice to get it checked out as soon as possible by an experienced mechanic so they can inspect it properly and advise on whether or not you need new ones installed on your vehicle’s wheels. Even though this may be expensive, it is the most reliable way of inspecting your wheel bearings. It would be wise to hire a mechanic if you lack essential tools or automotive knowledge.
How To Increase The Life Of Wheel Bearings?
The key to increasing the life of wheel bearings is good maintenance. A few simple steps can be taken to ensure that your wheel bearings have a long and healthy life:
- Regularly inspect your wheel bearings for excessive play or any signs of wear or tear. Replace them if needed.
- Make sure that the wheel nuts are tight and properly torqued.
- Make sure the hub is regularly lubricated with a high-quality grease specifically designed for wheel bearings. This will help to reduce friction and keep the bearing in good condition, thereby reducing wear and tear.
- Be aware of any changes in your vehicle’s handling. This could be an indication of a problem with the wheel bearings or other components in the suspension system; take action immediately to prevent further damage.
- Always use the correct size and specification bearings for your vehicle.
- Make sure that you properly clean any corrosive material from the hub before reinstalling the wheel bearings.
Following these steps will help ensure that your wheel bearings are in good working order and last for a long time. Regular maintenance is the key to keeping them running well and prolonging their life.
Common Types of Wheel Bearings
Wheel bearings are essential components that help to prevent friction when a wheel is spun. Friction is created due to the resistance between two parts of the wheel, which causes wear and tear over time. Wheel bearings are designed to reduce this friction and allow the wheel to spin with less resistance. This helps to extend the lifespan of the wheel as its parts are not affected by too much contact.
There are several different types of wheel bearings available, each with its own unique characteristics and benefits:
Ball bearings consist of two rows of balls, which are held together by an inner and outer race. These bearings have a low rolling resistance, making them ideal for use in applications where speed is important. Ball bearings are the most popular and flexible wheel bearing on the market; they can tolerate both thrust and radial loads, making them an ideal choice for all your needs.
The cornering pressure that a wheel is subjected to is the thrust load, while the weight put on it constitutes its radial load. Ball bearings can be found in wheels of all shapes and sizes – from roller skates’ minuscule rotators up to automobile tire rims.
Precision Ball Bearings
Precision ball bearings are very similar to ball bearings, with one key difference: their metal shields. The metal shields help protect the balls from dust and any other debris that may affect their performance. Moreover, precision ball bearings also feature a greater level of accuracy than regular ball bearings, making them an ideal choice for applications that require precise motion control.
Tapered Roller Bearings
Tapered roller bearings are designed for applications that require high load capacities. This type of bearing features tapered inner and outer races that are made up of a number of conical rollers.
This design helps to increase the radial load capacity, making it suitable for vehicles and machines with large overhangs.
Roller bearings may often be a more practical choice than ball bearings, but they lack some of the versatility that comes with using a ball bearing. While roller bearings are reasonably capable of handling weight and pressure, they don’t quite match the agility you would get when cornering with a ball bearing.
For vehicles that must maneuver around sharply at moderate to high speed, roller bearings are not the ideal choice. However, for items such as shopping carts or trolleys that don’t require advanced cornering capabilities, then these types of ball bearings will do just fine.
Needle Roller Bearings
Needle roller bearings are made up of cylindrical rollers with a tapered point at one end. These bearings are most commonly used in applications that require high speed and low rolling resistance, such as bicycles, motorcycles, and inline skates.
Due to their small size and lighter weight compared to other types of wheel bearings, needle roller bearings provide high levels of stability without compromising on speed. The tapered point end ensures that the bearing is able to absorb thrust loads more effectively compared to other bearing styles.
These are just some of the most common types of wheel bearings available. Depending on your requirements, you should be able to find a bearing that is perfect for your needs. Be sure to do your research and consult an expert if necessary – this will help you get the best performance from your wheel bearings.
In conclusion, every car needs functional and intact wheel bearings. These parts allow the wheels to rotate smoothly without any grinding noise or resistance. When these components start to fail, they will exhibit certain symptoms that alert the driver of a problem. Diagnosing bad wheel bearings is not always straightforward, so it’s best to leave this task to qualified mechanics. Keep in mind that replacing them can be costly, but there are ways to extend their lifespan and avoid premature failure. We have also defined various types of wheel bearings to help you to choose when replacing the bearings. We hope, this blog post will answer all your questions and help you to make the right decision when it comes to your wheel bearings.
Frequently Asked Questions
Operating a car with a bad wheel bearing can be hazardous as it may cause the wheel to suddenly cease operation while you are driving. This damaged bearing will also strain the CV joint, hub, and transmission. If not addressed swiftly, these components could potentially break down too!
The longevity of your wheel bearings varies according to the quality of the product and how you drive. On average, it is estimated that high-grade ones will last between 80,000 to 125,000 miles or 7-10 years depending on your driving conditions. If you’re looking for even better performance from them, try finding a higher-quality bearing and sticking with calm roads!
It can be a bit tough to tell the difference between bad bearing and tire noise. To clarify, if it’s the former, you’ll likely hear an irregular metallic sound that is “grindy” in nature – much harsher than regular tire sounds.
If you’re familiar with the process, changing out a wheel bearing should take about an hour. For those who are not as experienced or need to search for tools, however, it’s best to double that estimate and plan accordingly.
To isolate the source of a sound, drive your car with each window open one at a time, paying close attention to when it becomes louder. By doing this you can accurately pinpoint its origin. As a final step in your inspection, you will need to lift up your vehicle and rotate each wheel while examining it for any signs of imbalance.
You don’t have to replace both wheel bearings if one is defective. It could just be a faulty component, and the other side might last you many thousands of miles more. However, replacing them both would provide extra assurance and peace of mind that they’re all in good condition – though it’s not necessary by any means.