A Wheel Bearing can take quite a beating over the years both from its regular job of making the wheel spin, and also from the extra strain of hitting potholes or other road hazards that jolt the Wheel. A Wheel Bearing lifetime can vary tremendously depending on the conditions encountered over time, usually however it is well over 100,000 miles. In some cases this has been as short as 70,000 miles. A Wheel Bearing failure us usually preceded by an ever-increasing amount of noise, usually a squealing, or “whirring” noise that can be heard even when the Brakes are not applied. As it gets worse, there will usually also be a Wobble felt from that corner of the car. A failing Wheel Bearing should be replaced at your earliest convenience, in fact, immediately if you also sense a Wobble. Waiting too long, in an extreme case, could cause damage to the rest of the Mechanicals at that corner of the Car and become a much more expensive Auto Repair at that point.
Not all noises are Wheel Bearings. Sometimes it is an issue with the Tire. This is not always easy to pinpoint. We will examine your Tires for signs of damaged internal Belts (the Tire will seem to have a Bulge or wave in it), and in some cases we may recommend that the Tire be changed first and see if that resolves the whole issue. Sometimes, it is both, for example when the Wheel Bearing has caused the Tire to be damaged from wobble. As the Wheel Bearings wear, they begin to vibrate in a noticeable way. These vibrations turn into wobbles and may eventually get so bad that it feels as though the Car’s Wheels are trying to shake the Steering Wheel. At this point, the situation is dangerous. Also, this wobble takes a toll on the rest of the Suspension, so it will damage Ball Joints, Sway Bar End Links, Tie Rod Ends, and Control Arms.
When available, it is best to replace the Hub Assembly, which includes the Wheel Bearing. This saves money on labor and exerts less strain on the new Wheel Bearing. On cars where this option is not available, the Wheel Bearing must be pressed with a high force shop press or cut off, and the new Wheel Bearing pressed on. There is a possibility of damage to the Hub in this case, but that is the way those cars were designed to be serviced.
If you suspect a Wheel Bearing issue, call us at Benchmark Autoworks at 919-664-8009, and schedule an appointment to have us check it out.