What is a Wheel Bearing and Is Mine Messed Up?

First, the basics.  A wheel bearing helps your car run smoothly. It helps absorb friction and when all is right in the world, prevent damage to your car (at least the ball joints, springs & shocks, control arms of the wheels).

Your Kanata/Stittsville auto relies on a complex system of springs, shocks, joints and bearings to keep it going straight down the road, smoothy. When all of this is working well, in concert, you shouldn’t even notice your wheel system as steering is responsive, ride quality is smooth and your brakes are steady and strong.

Any suspension, steering, or wheel bearing issue has a good chance of starting out small. You know your car, so when you get out of denial that something doesn’t feel right, you are going to want to get your auto to a Kanata/Stittsville auto repairman. Wandering steering, noises as you go over bumps at low speed, or vibrations are all signs that something in your suspension system may be wearing out or need servicing.

So how do you prevent bad wheel bearings from ruining your day (or month)?  Bad wheel bearings are hard to diagnose, so the smart driver will take their car into a Kanata/Stittsville garage if symptoms arise. The first one being a rougher ride than normal, coming from (not surprisingly) your wheel area. This is a sign of a suspension issue and maybe a wheel bearing problem.

Signs that you may need wheel bearing replacement

  • The sound. As your wheel bearings wears out, components and parts get loose causing vibration at the wheel hub. This probably won’t be enough vibration to shake the car or make the steering wheel wobble, but it’s enough vibration to translate into a low-frequency hum, or droning sound, that you’ll hear inside the car.
  • If you have ever heard how oversized tires make a humming sound, this is another bad sign. The humming changes with your speed or turn slightly one way or the other. This is a good (meaning bad) indicator of bearing failureA home-check for this would be jacking the suspected corner of the car up, grab the tire at the top and bottom, and see if it has a little back and forth wiggle to it accompanied by a slight knocking sound. This is not good. Humming is not always the sign of a wheel bearing, you may simply have tires that are wearing unevenly – which is also a reason to get into a Kanata/Stittsville garage.

Just like with any auto problem, the longer you wait, the worse it gets. On many cars, the bearing can go from bad to really, really bad in a hurry, resulting in a wheel and hub assembly that fall off, often at high speed. This can be catastrophic and life threatening. It’s better to have it looked at now.

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