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The Importance of Your Car’s Wheel Bearings

si26si Offline

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A wheel bearing is a crucial part of the wheel assembly that connects the wheel and the axle. It is a set of steel balls (ball bearings) or tapers (tapered bearings), held together by a metal ring. It enables the wheel to rotate smoothly with a minimum of friction. Wheel bearings are safety critical components designed to sustain radial and axial loads caused by gravitation, acceleration, breaking & cornering forces, so they need to be replaced when they stop working properly.

Faulty installation – inappropriate tools such as a hammer or an impact wrench can cause damage to the exterior and or interior of the wheel end bearing causing the wheel bearing to fail prematurely.  Also, re-using the old accessories such as bolts, nuts, circlips, split pins, seals,… instead of replacing them with new ones can cause the wheel end bearing to operate under abnormal or unsafe conditions, increasing wheel end bearing wear and risk of a car accident. 
Impact damage or poor road quality – all impacts from driving through a pothole, driving over speed bumps or hitting the curbstone can damage a wheel bearing and reduce its lifespan.
Poor quality wheel bearing – a wheel bearing is continuously under enormous pressure. Wheel bearings constructed of low-quality materials can have poor heat-treatment, resulting in premature wear and failure.
Driving conditions – driving through deep water or mud can cause your wheel bearings to fail. Water, mud or other contaminants such as dust or road salt could get past the seals and enter the bearing, polluting the grease and wearing away the bearings.
Car modifications – fitting bigger or wider rims, tires with lower thread walls, stiffer shock absorbers and suspension springs cause higher loads on the wheel bearing and can accelerate wear. Stick to rims, tires, shock absorbers and springs that are specified by the car manufacturer to minimize the impact on the longevity of the wheel bearings.

It’s very rare for wheel bearings to fail immediately and completely after you notice the first symptom(s). 
Having said that, it is best to avoid driving with a worn wheel bearing for any length of time. As we’ve already seen, the wheel bearing is essential for connecting your wheel to your car, and any weakness in this connection could have severe consequences for your drive-axle and steering assembly – as well as for your safety.

Replacing your wheel bearings
Despite the fact that modern auto bearing are easier to install than previous generations, correct installation, the usage of appropriate tools and respecting the specified torque values are still essential for maximum performance, durability and safety. Therefore, we recommend having your wheel bearings fitted by a professional mechanic that has the skills and the tools to do the job.  

The content contained in this article is for entertainment and informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.

The increasing preference for personal mobility in the post-COVID period will boost the growth of automobiles and components such as agriculture machinery bearing. Additionally, the Indian automotive bearings market is expected to benefit from the shift of production lines of the global automotive bearings manufacturers to the emerging economies.

Nachi-Fujikoshi, a prominent manufacturer of automotive bearings, has announced its plan to move its production of general-purpose bearings from Japan and Taiwan to Thailand. The move is to reduce production costs for automotive bearings. The recent introduction of production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes for automotive components by the government of India will play a crucial role in attracting global players to set up manufacturing facilities in India.

The growing demand for light-weight and durable bearings from the automotive industry is leading the prominent bearing manufacturers such as SKF India, Schaeffler India, and NRB Bearings to focus on adopting new raw materials, instead of traditional high-grade steel. For instance, SKF India is manufacturing automotive bearings with alloys that are 10%-12% lighter than traditional bearings made from high-grade steel. The vendors are increasing spending on R&D for the development of lightweight technology. In 2019, Schaeffler India spent 1.34% of revenue on R & D.

Auto mechanics all over the country take advantage of the public’s limited knowledge about automotive mechanics and engineering. Many drivers assume that their mechanic knows more about the subject of what’s going on with their cars than they do, and feel they have no choice but to trust their “expert” opinions. This happens frequently with recommended part replacements—especially with wheel bearings.

Wheel bearings play an integral role in your car’s overall functioning and performance. Wheel bearings can indeed become damaged or worn out over time, and under these circumstances it is critical to replace them if need be. However, this is one of the opportunities that automotive shops seize to upsell their product and services. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “well, if you’ve replaced one you should replace the other” then you’ve likely overpaid for automotive services. In this article, we’ll talk about the importance of wheel bearings for your car. We’ll also discuss when industrial bearing should realistically be replaced and what you can do to keep your car in excellent condition moving forward.

Wheel bearings are critical for your car’s performance. They reside inside a wheel to help the wheel rotate smoothly and competently by decreasing the amount of friction created by other various parts of the drivetrain system. When wheel bearings become damaged or require replacement, it can lead to devastating effects if not replaced properly. When wheel bearings are not replaced with the proper tools, equipment, and attention to detail, it can cause further, more significant damage to the part over time. Bearing assemblies are a simple mechanical design, but their function is essential to the smooth rotation of your wheels. When one wheel bearing goes bad, it can cause a concerning noise coming from your wheel, especially at higher speeds, and it can cause other gradual side effects to your alignment and wheel balance.
When Wheel Bearings Need to Be Replaced
Wheel bearings are made of tough, durable material, which means that they generally last a long time in cars. However, they can still require replacement under the right circumstances. If you have noticed any strange noises coming from your wheel as you’re driving, consider if any of the following could apply to your car:

Accident Damage
Although wheel bearings are sturdy parts alone, the impact from an accident can cause the auto wheel bearing to become damaged. After the rough impact of a car accident, especially if the accident was a side impact, it’s common to encounter broken seals in the bearing assembly, which leads to a contaminated bearing. When grease gets inside through a broken seal, it causes too much friction, which can chip the bearings and cause them to begin to malfunction.

Improper Installation
Wheel bearings need to be replaced under somewhat rare circumstances, including when they are replaced improperly to begin with. Whenever a wheel bearing or a bearing assembly is replaced, the wheels should be balanced and aligned in order to prevent further damage. This can save you a lot of money in the long run, all you need to do is find an honest mechanic!

Engineering Defect
Automotive engineering is not a perfect science; many vehicle parts come with defects and wear issues. Cars that are well designed generally have fewer defects, but some cars were simply manufactured with a propensity for wheel bearing issues somewhere throughout the course of the vehicle’s life.

Usually automotive shops recommend that if one wheel bearing becomes damaged that the corresponding wheel’s bearing should also be replaced (i.e. front driver’s side and front passenger’s side). While this might make sense for the sake of symmetry, depending on the condition of the other wheel bearing it is usually not necessary to replace both for this reason alone. Here at Santa Barbara Autowerks we pride ourselves on honesty and integrity; we don’t offer services or replacements to our clients unless they’re necessary for their safety or will save them money and energy in the future. As one of the highest quality leading dealership alternatives in Santa Barbara, CA, we tailor our services to German-engineered vehicles, making us experts in German vehicle repair and maintenance. We are passionate about and highly experienced in working with cars like Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, MINI, and Volkswagen. If you think your German car’s wheel bearing might need to be replaced, please contact us for an honest, expert opinion without a hidden agenda.


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