Wheel bearings are tailored to support efficient and safe wheel movement, but when they decide to fail on a long journey, they may also become a nuisance. This article is all about the importance of wheel bearings and about what can happen when they fail.
Undoubtedly, wheel bearings play a vital role inside the drive-train of any automobile as they are the very first link among the static & moving spots of the vehicle. In layman language, a wheel bearing is a type of device that reduces the friction within(between) some things such as a tire to support efficiency of motivation(movement). And, all this is achieved because much less friction force is generated by rolling than sliding of the wheels.
The wheel bearings of a vehicle does this by utilizing miniature metal balls that generally roll in between 2 very smooth metal rings. The bearing and wheel revolve simultaneously while being lubricated, enabling the wheel hub to spin as freely as possible due to the rolling action of the balls in the bearing.
The hub assembly houses the wheel bearing, which establishes the static link with the hub carrier through an outer ring. The driveshaft leaves the gearbox & goes through the inner ring of the wheel bearing, where it enters the centre to form the circular relationship. The roller bearings are usually used on the driven tires of an automobile, while the tapered bearings are majorly used on the wheels that are non-driven.
Like other mechanical components on a vehicle that spins, rolls & rubs and tends to tear out.
A weird buzzing sound coming out of the damaged wheel at various speeds are another telltale symbol that a wheel bearing has attained the end of its shelf life.
Here are some general reasons of a treacherous bearing:
• Incorrect alignment due to poor installation
• A damaged or leaking bearing seal
• An inward collision due to a side impact
The most usual mechanical glitch is because of a seal leakage, which enables lubricants like grease to come out from the wheel bearing & enabling dust and water to make its way inside. All this amounts to the deterioration of the metal balls & the inner and outer housing of the wheel bearing frequently developing that weird gritty noise as the tire is spinning.
While looking inside a failed wheel bearing, there will probably be some tiny metal specs that must have been damaged from the inner side of the bearing and of course are crushing their path all around the racers, leading to more damage.
The wheel bearings are usually made from the hardened steel, and are capable to withstand even a very serious amount of spinning abuse. However, if you add heat because of insufficient lubrication and water due to a damaged seal, chaos might erupt.
Moreover, in order to replace the wheel bearing perfectly, it needs to be taken out from the hub assembly ideally with the help of a hydraulic press. Issues may arise while reinstalling the new wheel bearing but the alignment must be precise to prevent the wearing out of the bearing rapidly while causing further damage. The vehicle’s wheel bearing must last till tens out of thousand miles, but many mechanics would just simply fix the wheel bearings back rather than incisively aligning it perfectly & utilising the prior mentioned press. As a result, the bearing will inexorably stop spinning perpendicularly, which will accelerate wear and damage to the component.
Most of the online car parts and accessories stores sell the whole aftermarket hub assembly along with the wheel bearing which is pressed into the same. This not only saves the hassle but also decreases the probable scope of the glitches within the particular bearing assembly.
If a wheel bearing is allowed to wear down further, it might seize & lock the axle, so consider your time carefully if the typical wheel bearing drone begins. However, given the stresses that a drivetrain must withstand during its lifespan, it is amazing how long wheel bearings can endure if properly placed and maintained.
Despite the fact that it is a labor-intensive process if one fails, the transition to selling full hub assemblies would make a damaged wheel bearing repairable at home with a good tool kit and a little know-how. So, the very next time that horrifying whir starts to creep further into the cabin, don’t panic; a remedy may be as simple as a ratchet wrench.