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Dec 13, 2016

How To Recognize A Bad Wheel Bearing

Posted By in Bearing Problems | No Comments »

It is sometimes difficult to tell when your wheel bearings are damaged or broken because the damage often varies in severity. The early warning signs can be hard to detect, meaning that problems can start off small and unnoticeable and be left to turn into catastrophic bearing damage and failure. If you are worried that your wheel hub bearing is compromised, or would like to know how to tell if it is in the future, below are some tips on how to recognize a bad wheel bearing.

Spot A Worn Out Or Broken Wheel Bearing

Snapping, Popping, or Clicking Noises

These noises are often indicative of a worn-out or damaged CV-joint. It can also mean that there has been too much bearing end play, the culprit of which is often poor clamping. This noise is most often encountered when you are cornering, or making sharp turns.

Grinding While the Car Is Moving

This often implies that there is mechanical damage in the wheel-end system. Where bearings are concerned, this can mean there has been a loss of integrity, including roller or raceway damage.

Knocking or Clunking Noises

Knocking and/or clunking can be indicative of excessive play in the CV-joints or U-joints. It can also be due to extreme amounts of backlash in the car’s differential gears. While this is not usually associated with bearing problems, and is typically heard when shifting from different directions–as in forwards to reverse–or going from acceleration to coasting, it is a good idea to play it safe and get your car’s hub bearing checked.

Humming, Growling, or Rumbling Noises

These noises are often associated not with your hubcap bearing, but with various electrical or drivetrain components. If the noise is indeed bearing related, the noise will most often be present when travelling in a straight line, and only intensify when turning slightly to the right or left. Most often the side that is opposite the source of the rumbling is where your defect is located.

Wheel Wobble or Vibration

This is one of the telltale signs of a worn-out or damaged tire, suspension component, or wheel, or chassis misalignment. When this is related to your hubcap bearing, it typically means that you have lost a clamp, and/or a bearing due to significant mechanical damage. It also frequently happens when lugnuts have not been appropriately tightened.

While it is often hard to tell if the source of many common car noises and problems are due to damaged hubcap bearings, having the above knowledge at your disposal will help you be able to properly diagnose the problem, and, if you have the experience and tools, fix it yourself, or if not, take it to your mechanic for repair and/or replacement.


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