When Metal Meets Metal (Wheel Bearings)

2019-07-21 09:26:04

What part of your vehicle has little metal balls inside that are lubricated and allow you to cruise on down the road?  They are wheel bearings, and automotive designers might argue they are human beings' second greatest invention of all time (the first is, of course, the wheel!).

You have a wheel bearing at each wheel.  They allow your wheels to turn freely, minimizing friction that would ordinarily slow you down when metal meets metal.  When one of your wheel bearings starts to go bad, it lets you know. A wheel bearing does its work quietly when it's in good health but starts getting noisy when it isn't.  People describe the noise differently.  Sometimes it sounds like road noise, a pulsating, rhythmic, sound.  That pulse speeds up when your vehicle speeds up. 

Here's what's happening when you hear that sound.  As mentioned, the bearing has these little metal balls inside a ring.  They have a lubricant inside to reduce friction between the balls; modern wheel bearings are sealed and they're intended to do their job without any maintenance. 

Wheel bearings take a beating; you hit some rough potholes or go over some uneven railroad tracks. Sometimes water can get into a bearing and reduce the ability of the lubricant to do its job.  Time starts to take its toll, too. When the lubricant isn't reducing friction like it should, the bearing can heat up. One of those little balls can start shedding pieces of metal and soon those shards start grinding up the other balls.  Friction takes over and soon your wheel isn't turning smoothly. That's what's causing the sound.  If a wheel bearing is not fixed, it could eventually seize up completely, and you can be stranded.

It's a lot easier if you heed the early warning signals, that pulsating noise.  Now, sometimes a similar noise can be caused by a bad tire, but in either case, it's important to have it checked out. Our I-86 Truck Repair & Auto Service technicians will be able to tell you fairly quickly what the problem is and offer a solution.

Wheel bearings generally don't fail often and usually last from 85,000-100,000 miles/140,000km to 160,000km. But consider them a long-term maintenance item that, once fixed, will keep you heading smoothly to the next destination.

I-86 Truck Repair & Auto Service
1739 Lindquist Drive
Falconer, New York 14733
716-665-2501

Wheel Bearings

2013-06-19 12:00:00

Your wheel bearings may be something to which you've never given a thought while driving around Falconer, New York. Wheel bearings are what enable your wheels to spin freely. Since they bear the entire weight of the vehicle, they have to be tough. Wheel bearings can last well over 60,000 miles or 100,000 kilometers. They do wear out though and must eventually be replaced.

You might hear a groaning sound from your wheels. The sound might disappear at some speeds and reappear at others. Your Falconer, New York, service technician at I-86 Truck Repair & Auto Service can quickly tell if your bearings are bad by raising the vehicle and wiggling the wheel. When you grasp the top and bottom of the tire, it shouldn't move along the vertical axis.

Many vehicles these days have wheel bearing assemblies that cannot be serviced at I-86 Truck Repair & Auto Service. When the bearings go bad, we simply replace the entire wheel bearing assembly.

For those vehicles with wheel bearings that can be accessed, we can do some preventive maintenance. You may have heard the phrase "pack the bearings." With this procedure we remove the bearings, carefully clean them and inspect for any imperfection or wear. If the bearings can be reused, we reinstall them and pack them with grease. If not, we put in new bearings. Check your owner's manual or ask your Falconer, New York, service advisor at I-86 Truck Repair & Auto Service if your bearings can be serviced, and if so, when it should be done.

Now, taking care of bad bearings is extremely important. When bearings go bad, they generate tremendous amounts of heat, enough to lock up the wheel. That's not a good thing at any speed. In some cases the wheel can even fall off. Either of these could cause a serious accident. So have your wheel bearings inspected if you suspect a problem and replace them right away if there is one.

I-86 Truck Repair & Auto Service
1739 Lindquist Drive
Falconer, New York 14733
716-665-2501

 

At I-86 Truck Repair & Auto Service we install quality NAPA replacement parts.

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