The wheel bearing is such a part of any vehicle that the driver only remembers about it when something goes wrong with it, and it is hindering their driving experience. The wheel bearing of a car prevents friction while the hub assembly is moving or rotating, giving a smooth and seamless tire and wheel rotation. We often forget about this part of our cars, but if we do not replace it on time, we can face several driving problems and cause severe damage to your vehicle. If you suspect that the wheel bearing of your car has sustained any damage or not, look out for the following problems while driving that usually occur due to a worn-out wheel bearing:
1. You will feel a prolonged vibration in the steering wheel.
Steering wheel vibration can be caused due to many reasons. When they are caused due to problems like improperly balanced tires, dry rot, and other tire-related problems, the vibrations usually occur while driving at average speeds or high speeds. A sudden jerk in your steering wheel while cruising at normal speed or increased vibrations while driving at high speeds is often linked with tire problems.
However, when the problem is with the wheel bearing, the vibrations of the steering wheel start at much lower speeds. These vibrations only increase as the speed of the vehicle increases. If a car has failing wheel bearings, the wheel whose bearing is affected will often show a sort of back and forth wobbling. Thus, see when the vibrations in your vehicle are starting and get your car checked to see if you need to replace any wheel bearing.
2. Your tire will wear out quicker.
Another sign of a bad wheel bearing is how easily the tires get worn out. As discussed above, a faulty wheel bearing will cause the tire to wobble back and forth. This will result in the wear pattern of the wheel changing and consequently, losing its tread quicker than the other wheels.
However, you must keep in mind that automobile problems such as damaged CV joints, blown shocks, struts, and tires that have been incorrectly inflated can cause uneven tread wear. Make sure that you consult a mechanic and see what the issue is before jumping to replace your wheel bearing.
3. Your wheels will start overheating.
It is common for wheels to heat up a bit as they rely on friction to work. Friction is caused due to the resistance by the rolling of your tires and when you step on the brakes. Thus, if your wheels feel a bit warm, especially after a long drive, it is quite a normal occurrence.
However, what is not normal is the overheating of the wheels in a short span of time. When a wheel bearing is worn out, it prevents the wheels from rotating freely. This adds unnecessary friction to your wheel and makes it very hot to touch. While this overheating will not necessarily cause your tires to catch on fire, it can potentially cause severe long-term problems to your wheels as well as your brake system. For instance, suppose you are driving with a faulty wheel bearing, and your tire has already overheated while you are driving. If you come across a small puddle on the road filled with cold water, your wheels can suffer from a sudden thermal shock. This shock might result in stress fractures throughout your brake discs and allow wheels.
4. Damaged wheel bearing will cause further damage to your vehicle's parts.
If you do not replace a damaged wheel bearing on time, it might take a toll on the other parts of the vehicle's suspension and drivetrain hardware. For instance, the wheel bearings might cause metal shavings to contaminate the wheel hub and generate more wear and tear. Moreover, damaged wheel bearings will lead to the wearing of the grooves in your vehicle's axle shaft.
Thus, it is advised that you keep a close look at any of the problems mentioned above and see if your vehicles are showing signs of any of them. If you see that your wheel bearings have excessive wear and tear symptoms, replace them as soon as possible.