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Don't turn up the radio to drown out wheel bearing noise, come into Repco for the best selection of quality wheel bearings.
Stay safe on the road and replace a bad wheel bearing today
Wheel bearings are an important part of any wheel setup on all cars, trucks, utes, vans, motorcycles and even trailers.Keeping on top of wheel bearing maintenance is essential in order to avoid costly breakdowns which can leave you stranded on the side of the road or even create hazards if they decide to throw in the towel as you're driving.
How do wheel bearings operate?
A wheel bearing kit will consist of tapered roller bearings or ball bearings inside a metal ring or race that enable the wheel hub assembly to spin freely around the axle assembly as your wheel and tyre rotates, minimising friction with the axle and allowing your car to roll effortlessly down the road.
As with all moving parts on a vehicle these have have a finite life span and this lifespan of a front or rear wheel bearing can be anywhere from 100,000 kilometres and beyond.
The reasons and causes leading to needing to have a wheel bearing replaced can vary but can come down to oversized wheels or tyres putting excess load on the axle, deterioration of dust seals leading to other contaminants mixing with the grease and wheel bearing assembly or road damage from potholes or speed bumps.
How to identify a wheel bearing in need of replacement
Luckily, there are some tell-tale signs which indicate a bad wheel bearing and the need for wheel bearing replacement. For a quick how-to on detecting bad wheel bearings and limiting a wheel bearing to fail prematurely, see the guide below.
How do I tell when my wheel bearings need replacing?
- Noises - a bad wheel bearing sound or humming noise from your wheel bearing indicates it's time to fit a replacement. The types of noises to listen out for are a rumbling sound, grinding or growling noise or other metal-on-metal type sounds. The noise will generally become more noticeable either with higher speeds or more effort in steering input.
- Loose steering - Any slack or play in the wheel bearing will transfer through the steering rack and ultimately to the steering wheel. If you notice excessive steering wheel play, 'loose' feeling or steering wheel vibration, it's time to check your bearings.
- Steering pulling to the side - Slack in wheel bearings can also affect your wheel alignment as you drive and result in the car pulling to one side. This can be an intermittent characteristic, however sometimes is consistent.
How do I check or service my trailer or wheel bearings?
Now you might be wondering how do I check my wheel bearings? The best method to check suspect wheel bearings will require you to first jack up the vehicle so the wheel attached is in the air. From here, place your hands on the wheel assembly at 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock checking for any play in the wheel vertically. It is important to check the wheel this way to eliminate a false reading from sloppy steering components on the front wheels such as the steering knuckle.
Checking your bearings isn't a quick process, but it's something worth setting an afternoon aside for every 10,000kms or 12 months, but what exactly are you looking for?
After removing the wheel and hub, remove and clean your bearings so you can have a proper look at them. If you notice any visual damage to the rollers, roller cage, bearing or bearing race or any discolouration or evidence of excessive heat and friction, it's time to fit some replacement bearings. Make sure to use quality grease when re-assembling the bearing assembly.
When taking the assembly apart, it is important not to overlook the seals. If they are damaged, dry, brittle or cracked in any way then they must be replaced to ensure the assembly stays lubricated. It's worth taking into consideration that all of these components are relatively inexpensive and can be replaced before the due date to prevent any future damage or breakdowns.
For those who tow regularly or subject their trailers to extreme conditions, bearing protectors are a great idea to maximise service life of your bearings and seals. These handy little accessories protect your bearings and seals from dust, dirt and water which can break down bearing grease and damage seals. They also add a greaseable point for quick service without dismantling the entire assembly.
If you do not have the required tools or confidence to replace a faulty bearing it always pays to utilise a professional mechanic to service your vehicle. Modern vehicles have can have an abs system or abs sensor integrated into the hub assembly so special attention and training may be required.