3 Questions About Bad Bearings And Your Car

Posted on: 3 August 2016

Wheel bearings are a vital but little understood automotive component, one that can be found on every single car on the road. Bad wheel bearings are not only problematic in and of themselves, but, if left untreated, they can lead to a whole host of other problems. If you would like to reduce the risk of developing such problems by learning more about bad wheel bearings, read on. This article will answer three of the most frequently asked questions.

How do I know if I've got bad wheel bearings?

The most easily detectable symptom of bad bearings are unusual sounds--especially if they seem to be coming from your wheels. Such sounds are usually described as a whirring, grinding, or roaring. This sound is generally most pronounced while accelerating at low speeds. It may seem to disappear as your car approaches highway speed. Left unattended, the intensity and volume of the sound will increase with time.

How can I be sure my problem is bad wheel bearings?

As with most symptoms of automotive trouble, odd or unusual sounds coming from the bottom of your car may be caused by a variety of different issues. For instance, what sounds like a bad wheel bearing may actually be caused by worn tires, faulty wheel alignment, or a problematic CV joint. To narrow down these possibilities, be sure to schedule an inspection with a local car repair shop.

A skilled mechanic from an auto shop like D Wells Automotive Service will pinpoint the source of the untoward noises by performing a battery of different tests. One of these involves attaching automotive stethoscopes to the bottom of your car so that they can isolate the sounds being produced by your wheel bearings. Another test involves elevating the car with a lift and testing the wheels for any bearing play. A wheel that has become loose or wobbly often indicates bad bearings.

Why do wheel bearings go bad?

Most wheel bearings go bad simply thanks to the wear and tear that daily driving produces. Such wear is only exacerbated by the fact that the location of the wheel bearings makes them more exposed to the elements. In theory, the wheel bearings are protected by a watertight seal. Unfortunately, these seals often work loose or degrade, allowing water to hasten the decay of the grease used to pack the bearings in place.

As this grease degrades, the bearings are subject to greater and greater amounts of friction. As time goes on, this friction will cause the surface of the bearings to become worn and pitted. This only hastens further damage. Unusual sounds tend to begin once the worn out bearings start to crumble and break apart.