There are literally THOUSANDS of parts on today’s cars and trucks, any of which could fail over the life of your vehicle. This is why preventative maintenance is such an important part of responsible vehicle ownership. As an added benefit, when you have your maintenance performed at a reputable auto repair shop, they will inspect all the major components to make sure they are in good condition. One such part that is important to have inspected periodically is the wheel bearings.
Role of Wheel Bearings
Wheel bearings play a vital role in a vehicle’s suspension system; they support the vehicle’s weight as well as allowing the tires to rotate with ease. Most wheel bearings are engineered to withstand use up to 150,000 miles or more, however this number can be considerably lower if you often drive over rough roads.
Another cause of premature wheel bearing failure is due to contamination of or loss of grease. A damaged grease seal makes it possible for the protective grease to leak out of the bearings and dirt and water to enter in.
Safety Concerns of a Bad Wheel Bearing
A bad wheel bearing can cause some serious safety concerns if left unrepaired. For one thing, the steering of your vehicle is going to be off; it can make it feel as though your vehicle is wandering all over the road, or make it feel wobbly.
The first sign that a wheel bearing is damaged or beginning to fail is typically noise from the tire. The noise will vary from vehicle to vehicle, however it is typically described as a growling or rumbling noise. Moaning, chirping or cyclic noise have also been reported in a bad wheel bearing. If you notice any of these symptoms, take note because a failed wheel bearing can be catastrophic if left alone too long.
If a wheel bearing has failed, there is the danger of the wheel actually coming off the vehicle while you are driving down the road – believe us, you DON’T want this to happen! Also, as the wheel hubs heat up due to excessive friction, it could lock up the wheel during operation which can make your vehicle veer out of control.
We must repeat that it is extremely dangerous to drive your vehicle with a bad or failing wheel bearing. If you think your wheel bearing might be failing, it is extremely important to schedule a visit to your auto repair shop as soon as possible to have it evaluated and repaired or replaced as necessary.