It probably should come as no surprise to learn that wheel bearings tend to be among the most overlooked parts of a vehicle, even though they are absolutely crucial to the functioning of your car. Your wheels rotate on these bearings; there is one wheel bearing at each wheel. The full weight of your vehicle and everything inside it is supported on these bearings, so eventually they’re going to begin to wear out and will need to be serviced or replaced.
High-speed travel and hard turning at high speeds wears on wheel bearings excessively, sometimes causing them to fail prematurely. And overloading your vehicle or towing anything that exceeds the gross vehicle weight of your vehicle will also cause premature wear and eventual failure.
Wheel bearings are lubricated with grease or gear oil, depending on their location and the type of vehicle.
Serviceable Wheel Bearings
If your vehicle has serviceable wheel bearings, be sure to have them serviced periodically. This type of bearing is usually found on older cars and 2wd or rear-wheel drive vehicles. It doesn’t take long to inspect them during a service or inspection here at G&J’s.
The manufacturer of your make and model recommends the maintenance schedule for serviceable wheel bearings. But if your wheel is loose while still bolted to its rim, don’t wait because it’s likely your bearing needs to be addressed (servicing or replacing). Another indication of a serviceable wheel bearing going south is noise coming from the wheels while you drive. The noise typically sounds like excessive road noise, a loud hum, or grinding. If you notice any of these symptoms, your wheel bearing is in very bad shape and needs to be repaired. Neglecting to repair bearings will cause your car to break down and, in severe cases you can lose a tire while driving…so get it checked out promptly!
Sealed Wheel Bearings
Sealed wheel bearings are simply another design. This bearing is sealed inside the inner and outer bearing race and isn’t serviceable or re-packable as are serviceable wheel bearings. Sealed wheel bearings are usually found on newer cars, front-wheel-drive cars, and many other makes and models. Eventually, the grease inside sealed wheel bearings will wear down and the bearing unit will lose its lubrication. When these bearings show signs of wear (loose wheel or noise while driving) they can only be replaced. (Repair isn’t an option.)