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How to Identify Bad Wheel Bearings on Your Car

February 28, 2016 | General Repair Info

For any vehicle owners who are concerned with potential wheel bearing issues, there are some clear signs that a wheel bearing issue may exist in a vehicle. First and foremost, a bad wheel bearing is going to probably be making some strange noises which will be easily audible to the driver and any other passengers within the vehicle. The noises produced by a bad wheel bearing will typically sound like a kind of grinding noise. This grinding noise tends to be more pronounced when the vehicle is cornering, making turns, and additionally when the vehicle reaches higher speeds the noise will usually get a lot worse.

Bad Wheel Bearing Symptoms

Other characterizations of noises created by a bad wheel bearing include squealing noises, growling, whining, or squeaking noises. Being able to discern from different types of automotive noises being made and their potential causes is going to be critical for a vehicle owner to determine what the issue really is. A simple test which can alert a vehicle owner of a wheel bearing malfunction or failure is by holding the steering wheel and shaking it around when the wheel is lifted up off of the ground.

If this test reveals that the wheel is wiggling around a lot and has a lot of movement other than the intended turning and repositioning of the wheel, then this can be a clear indication that there is a wheel bearing issue. A wheel on a vehicle should have very little or no play at all, meaning that it should not be able to wiggle around and shake. If the wheel is wiggling noticeably and has a lot of play on it, then this should alert the vehicle owner that the wheel bearing probably needs replacing.

Additional Signs of a Bad Wheel Bearing

Even if there is not a lot of wiggling or play in your wheel, this is not a certain indicator that the wheel bearing is in good shape. Another way to test the viability of a wheel bearing is to raise the wheel off of the ground, and rotate it by hand. If while rotating the wheel by hand it is clear that there is some noticeable noise or roughness to the rotation, then this is another way of determining wheel bearing problems and a potential need for replacement.

One more test for determining whether or not a wheel bearing is worn out and in need of replacement is going to be to drive for about ten miles with the suspected wheel bearing. After driving for about ten miles, then it is time to get out of the vehicle after turning it off, and test the temperature of the wheel bearing and hub. These components should not be very warm or hot after ten miles of driving, so if there is a lot of heat in the wheel bearing area then this is another solid indication that they need replacing.

Read also:  4 Causes of Timing Belt Symptoms

Since wheel bearing malfunctions and failures are so dangerous if left unaddressed, it is critical that repairs are performed as soon as the issues arise. If left unchecked, then it is possible for a wheel to come completely disconnected from the vehicle while driving and this obviously creates a potential for catastrophic car accidents to take place. Even if the wheel does not come completely off of the vehicle, it is still possible that the vehicle operator can lose all steering control when a wheel bearing fails during driving the automobile. This is another situation where a horrible accident could possibly take place, and another critical reason that a wheel bearing should always be replaced at the first signs of failure.

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