Photo via www.bobscustoms.net/
A wheel bearing is a group of ball bearings that enables a wheel to spin freely. The bearing fits snugly inside the hub of each wheel, and while it can withstand a lot of abuse, heat and water can cause severe damage. Most wheel bearings that are properly installed and cared for (regular inspection and grease) can last around 100,000 miles. But wheel bearing can suffer from neglect or damage from accidents and broken seals, and when they do it’s important to replace them. Failing to do so can cause further (and more expensive) damage to your drive axle and even result in your wheel completely detaching while you drive. Be on the lookout for the following signs of a broken or damaged wheel bearing.
Do you hear a rhythmic, rotating noise that gets louder at higher speeds? This may have something to do with your tires and may not primarily be the fault of your wheel bearings. It’s a good idea to check your wheels for patches if you do hear a rhythmic noise that increases in volume the faster you go.
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Is the noise louder or softer when your car has more weight on one side or the other? You can test this by gently swaying your car while driving slowly. If the noise lessens when you sway right, then the damaged bearing is likely on a left wheel bearing. If it lessens when you sway left, a right wheel bearing is likely broken.
Does your steering wheel vibrate or wobble while driving? When bearings wear down they loosen inside the wheel, which can cause the looseness while driving. If you’re unsure whether your car has a wheel bearing issue, have an expert diagnose the situation.