Signs That Wheel Bearings Are Damaged

car wheel bearings
Latest update date: February 28, 06

Ball bearings are an important part of the car's suspension and wheel system, ensuring smooth and safe movement of the vehicle. However, bearings can be damaged due to many reasons, such as overuse, lack of regular maintenance, or impacts caused by obstacles on the road.

Reputable bearing manufacturers such as SKF, NSK, Timken regularly conduct research and development to improve bearing life, load capacity and noise reduction.

When wheel bearings are damaged, the driver will feel signs such as rattling noises, the vehicle swaying abnormally, or the wheel may even be displaced from its original position. This not only causes discomfort for the driver but can also seriously affect safety when traveling. Therefore, checking and replacing bearings when necessary is extremely important to ensure safe and smooth vehicle operation.

However, over time, ball bearings can become damaged due to many different reasons. This article will provide you with useful information about signs of damaged wheel bearings as well as how to fix them promptly and effectively.

What are wheel bearings?

Wheel bearings are an important part of the car's transmission system. It consists of steel balls placed in a metal ring, which is responsible for reducing friction and supporting the rotation of the wheel.

According to statistics, on average each car uses 8-12 wheel bearings, depending on the size and type of vehicle. Wheel bearings are usually made from high-quality alloy steel, have good bearing capacity and long lifespan, up to 100.000 - 150.000 km.

car wheel bearings
What are wheel bearings?

Signs of damaged wheel bearings

When wheel bearings begin to deteriorate, they often exhibit the following signs:

  • Abnormal noise: Damaged ball bearings often cause loud noises and unpleasant screeching sounds when the vehicle moves. This sound may sound like the sound of wheels rolling on a rough road.
  • Wheel vibration: If you feel the car's steering wheel vibrating abnormally when moving at a speed of 60-70 km/h, the wheel bearings are likely damaged.
  • Ball bearing temperature increases: When bearings are overloaded, their temperature will increase suddenly. You can feel unusual heat when you touch the area near the bearing.

According to surveys of car garages, up to 70% of cases of wheel bearing damage are detected by paying attention to unusual noises coming from the wheels.

Causes of wheel bearing damage

There are many factors that affect the lifespan and durability of car wheel bearings:

  • Broken dust seal: If the dust seal on the bearing is cracked or broken, dirt will penetrate inside, increasing friction and quickly damaging the bearing.
  • Strong impact: Strong impacts when going through potholes or bad roads can cause the bearings to deform and crack.
  • Poor lubrication: Wheel bearings need to be regularly lubricated with specialized grease. If lubrication is inadequate or poor quality grease is used, the bearing will wear out quickly.
  • Long lifespan: Wheel bearings usually have a lifespan of 100.000 - 150.000 km. After this distance, they gradually deteriorate and need to be replaced.
Signs of broken wheel bearings
Causes of damage to car wheel bearings

How to locate wheel bearings causing noise

To accurately diagnose the location of damaged bearings, you can apply some of the following methods:

  • Using a mechanical stethoscope: Place the stethoscope head near the ball bearing while the vehicle is moving at a speed of about 60 km/h. If you hear a loud, screeching noise, the bearing in that wheel is damaged.
  • Using a screwdriver: Place the tip of the screwdriver on the center of the ball bearing, keeping the other end near the ear. The noise emitted will help determine which bearing is having problems. However, absolutely do not touch the screwdriver to moving parts to avoid causing danger.
  • Steering slightly left and right at a speed of 60 km/h: If the noise decreases when steering left, the right wheel bearing has a problem and vice versa.

Instructions for replacing damaged wheel bearings

When a wheel bearing is discovered to be damaged, it should be replaced as soon as possible to ensure driving safety. The process of replacing bearings is quite complicated, requiring disassembly of many related details such as wheels, brakes, hubs...

Therefore, it is best to take your car to a reputable garage to have the wheel bearings properly inspected and replaced. Here, professional technicians will use modern equipment to accurately diagnose the condition of the bearing, thereby providing appropriate repair and replacement plans.

Cause of wheel bearing failure
How to replace damaged wheel bearings

Frequently asked questions about car wheel bearings

1. How often should wheel bearings be replaced?

Typically, wheel bearings have a lifespan of 100.000 - 150.000 km. However, replacement frequency also depends on operating conditions and maintenance quality. Bearings should be checked periodically every 20.000 - 30.000 km to promptly detect signs of damage.

2. How much does it cost to replace car wheel bearings?

The cost of replacing ball bearings ranges from 1-3 million VND/wheel, depending on the vehicle type and component prices. For example, ball bearings for class A cars cost about 500.000 - 800.000 VND/unit, while class D cars can cost up to 1,5-2 million VND/unit.

3. Is it dangerous to drive with a broken wheel bearing?

Operating a car with damaged bearings has many potential risks such as: losing control of the steering wheel, increasing braking distance, and even causing serious accidents due to the wheel getting stuck or falling off. Therefore, it is necessary to replace bearings as soon as abnormalities are detected. 

4. Can I replace car wheel bearings at home?

Changing bearings yourself requires specialized equipment and expert skills. If you disassemble it yourself, you may accidentally damage other parts such as disc brakes, hubs, etc. It's best to take your car to a reputable garage for proper and safe replacement support.

5. Should I choose to buy genuine wheel bearings or replacements?

Genuine bearings often have higher quality and durability, but are 30-50% more expensive than replacements. If economic conditions allow, you should prioritize using genuine ball bearings to ensure safety and longevity of the vehicle.

6. Is it necessary to replace all 4 wheel bearings at the same time?

It is not necessary to replace all 4 bearings at the same time if they are not at the same level of damage. However, if the car has been driven over 100.000 km and shows signs of deterioration, you should consider replacing the entire set to maintain balance and stable operation.

7. What are the things to note when replacing car wheel bearings?

Things to note when replacing car wheel bearings:

  • Choose bearings that match the vehicle code and specifications.
  • Clean the installation area thoroughly before replacing the new bearing.
  • Fully lubricated with specialized grease for ball bearings.
  • Check the tightness of screws and nuts after installation.

8. How can wheel bearing life be extended?

How to prolong the life of car wheel bearings:

  • Clean and lubricate bearings periodically with specialized grease.
  • Avoid going on bad roads and deep potholes to reduce collisions with bearings.
  • Check and patch tires promptly to avoid under-inflated tires causing pressure on bearings.
  • Do not exceed the vehicle's permissible load.

Read the article now: 5 parts that are easily damaged if the car hits a pothole Helps you gain more experience to recognize and handle most effectively.

9. Can broken wheel bearings be repaired?

Ball bearings are delicate parts, arbitrarily repairing them can make the condition worse and does not guarantee accuracy and safety. Instead of repairing, you should replace the bearing with a new one to achieve optimal performance.

10. Do wheel bearings require regular maintenance?

Ball bearings need regular maintenance to prolong their life and detect damage early. Maintenance process includes: disassembling, cleaning, checking clearance, lubricating and reinstalling the bearing. Maintenance should be performed at professional garages.

11. What are the harmful effects of using poor quality ball bearings?

Counterfeit bearings often have poor durability and load-bearing capacity, and are easily deformed and broken during operation. This not only affects the vehicle's operation but also poses a potential risk of causing an accident, threatening the safety of the driver and passengers.

Thanh Phong Auto is one of the leading car garages, specializing in providing wheel bearing maintenance and repair services professional. With a team of skilled technical staff, equipped with modern machinery and a long-term warranty, Thanh Phong Auto will help thoroughly overcome problems related to wheel bearings, helping your vehicle operate smoothly. Operate smoothly and safely on all roads.

Hopefully through this article, readers will have more useful knowledge about car wheel bearings, thereby being proactive in recognizing and handling signs of damage. Always pay attention to the condition of wheel bearings and choose a reputable garage for regular maintenance and timely repairs, ensuring safety for every trip.

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1 Commentary

  • Tran Anh My 09/10/2021

    Where is Thanh Phong Auto? Lai Chau, or Ca Mau?


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