Wheel bearings are small metal balls held in place by a ring and they enable your car’s wheels to spin with minimal friction. Over time, these small metal balls can break and wear down due to a lack of lubrication. They are typical wear and tear for any car, and you may be wondering how to tell if you have a bad wheel bearing.
Driving with a worn down and bad wheel bearing can be very dangerous, and it can cause a lot of damage to your vehicle if you continuously drive on it. Diagnosing a bad wheel bearing, however, isn’t very difficult and you can usually determine if you have a problem by listening carefully to your wheels and seeing if your car’s handling has changed.
#1: Grinding and Dragging
When you are driving with a worn-out wheel bearing, they will often sound like they are grinding or dragging and the longer you drive, the louder and more obvious these sounds will become. When you are driving at an increased speed, any audible grinding coming from your wheels is a sure-fire sign that there is a problem with your wheel bearings.
When it comes to bad wheel bearings, your hearing is your best bet to figure out that there is a problem and these noises are the most common signs.
#2: Pay Attention to Steering & Handling
If you are driving and your steering wheel begins to wobble or vibrate, or your handling deteriorates, this is also another sign that your wheel bearings may be worn out and are starting to play havoc with your vehicle’s handling.
When a wheel bearing breaks down, it can make your car feel looser and fluid – not a good thing! – as there is a decrease in handling on one side of the vehicle, where the worn-out bearing is.
#3: Wobbling & Drifting
As you begin to drive at higher speeds, your wheels may begin to wobble around if you have wheel bearings which have become worn down. Wheel wobbling is a very bad sign and is an indicator of extreme wearing down of the wheel bearing, so you should stop driving and get the problem seen to immediately if you have wobbly wheels.
Drifting to one side is another serious sign of worn down wheel bearings. You can easily test this out by driving down a straight road at a moderate speed; if you begin to veer off to one side, then this is known as drifting and is a sign that your wheel bearings – or something else – needs urgent attention from a mechanic. Drifting is very dangerous, and you should also cease driving if this is happening.
Wheel bearings are a core component of any vehicle and they can dramatically impact upon your car’s steering and handling. Worn down wheel bearings are a major problem and they generally need urgent attention. Wheel bearings wear down naturally over time and you should get them checked and replaced every so often.
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