Do you hear a grating or grinding noise while cruising in your car? What if your car is suddenly veering to one side while driving? Does your steering feel loose while running?

It’s very important for a car owner to know about the vehicle that they’re driving. Responsible ownership is crucial when you want to use your car for a long time. Having basic information about your vehicle’s capacity, limitations and relevant information plays a significant contribution in keeping your vehicle in tip top shape. 

Every Nut and Bolt

You don’t have to be a total gear head when it comes to owning a car. However, remaining totally clueless about these components is an absolute disadvantage for you as an owner. Not knowing the symptoms your car manifests can expose you at higher risks.

Take for example, the automotive bearings in your vehicle. Having basic knowledge about the importance of wheel bearings in your car’s wheels will help you understand how some certain components that collectively work together, and provide you a seamless travel experience. A bit of knowledge can go a long way.

Here are the basics that you should know about wheel bearings:

What are wheel bearings?

A wheel bearing is an arrangement of steel balls in a metal ring called a race. At the center of your wheel is the hub, a hollow piece of metal where the wheel bearings are located. The bearings are fit tightly inside the hub and ride on an axle shaft made of metal. The bearings aid in friction reduction when the wheel rotates.

Since there is an absence of a constant source of lubrication, wheel bearings need to be as tight as possible to keep dust and water away. Wheel bearings also suffer a lot of wear and tear as they support the vehicle’s weight while going through different road conditions, like potholes. At the same time, they also need to withstand lateral forces while turning, for example.

What are the types of wheel bearings?

Current requirements in modern passenger cars use two basic types of wheel bearings: ball bearings and tapered roller bearings. Depending on the application and load, variations of bearings may also vary

The bearing design also dictates whether the rolling elements are ball- or roll-shaped. These rolling elements roll back and forth within the inner and outer rings to shift the forces acting on the bearings.

What role do wheel bearings play?

Wheel bearings are key components that help the hub, tire, and wheel assemblies work and function well together. They allow the hub assembly to move and rotate in a frictionless way that leads to the smooth rotation of both the tires and wheels.

Wheel bearings also play a key role in automotive safety as they are instrumental in the driving stability of the vehicle. Depending on the design, they also supply the information on wheel speed for the anti-lock braking system (ABS).

It is not safe to drive with faulty wheel bearings as this can stop the wheel from working while driving.

What are the signs of a bad wheel bearing?

Wheel bearings take on most of the roadside brunt, so it is not unusual that it will get damaged either from normal wear and tear or from extreme axial and radial impacts such as bumping hard into curbs or driving through deep potholes.

When wheel bearings are faulty, the usual tell-tale signs would be audible ones. A grating or grinding sound coming from the tires or wheels is usually a sign of bad wheel bearings, especially if the noise escalates as the car accelerates. Hearing humming noises from your car while on the road can also mean that something is not right with the wheel bearing or the CV joint. Chirping, growling, howling or squealing are other sounds indicating that you need to have your car checked.

Another symptom is when you feel that your car’s steering is less responsive or precise. The feeling of looseness can be caused by worn wheel bearings within the wheel assembly. The same goes when you feel your car veering in a certain direction. This is called pulling and may still be connected to a bad wheel bearing.

Lastly, you should also check on your tires. If you notice extremely uneven wear, then it could still be traced back to faulty wheel bearings. If you’re still in big doubt, try reading more articles about the signs of spotting bad wheel bearings and check if some symptoms are similar to your current situations. 

When you notice these signs, you should make sure to book car services online or bring it to your trusted technical service provider for a check-up. It is best to have a professional mechanic look into the state of your vehicle to ensure your safety on the road.

Always Bear Safety in Mind

You surely want to have a wonderful time driving around in your car. Bad wheel bearings could seriously put a stop to your ride. Moreover, serious accidents may happen if you ignore the signs that your car is telling you.

It is best that you are in tune with your car’s condition so you can avoid unfortunate road situations. Knowing your car’s key components as well as how these parts work should give you more peace of mind and confidence while driving on the road.


Hassanein Alwan is the Managing Director of Mineral Circles Bearings with more than 10 years’ experience in the bearing industry’s technical support division, sales and marketing, plus strategic business development consultancy.




About The Author