5 Signs of Bad Wheel Bearings
The bearings that rotate your wheels allow for friction-free movement and rotation of the hub assembly. As a result, your tire and wheels turn smoothly, without any noise and heat generated. Each of your wheels has its own wheel bearing, and it's possible for just one of those to have an issue, while the rest remain in good operating condition.
With that said, noise is your most obvious sign of a bad wheel bearing, but other signs can be seen or felt. If you experience one or a combination of the following problems, it's probably time to have your wheel bearings looked at.
Grinding noise when the vehicle is in motion
A grinding noise typically means mechanical damage. In connection to your wheel bearings, it can mean there is no proper lubrication, or the rollers or lining section of the bearing may have been damaged. In these cases, the bearings will build up a lot of heat, so it's imperative that you have this issue checked immediately. The sound will be more amplified when shifting or turning.
Abnormal tire wear
Wheel bearings experience different levels of wear, and so it's very rare that all of them wear evenly. As such, if one or both driver side tires show more wear than the other side, this may indicate a problem in the left side wheel bearings. Of course, uneven tire wear can be caused by a lot of other problems, such as unbalanced tires, bad wheel alignment, and more. And so you need to observe other symptoms before you can conclude that your bearings have an issue.
Steering wheel vibration
A vibrating steering wheel can be caused by bad wheel bearings when the problem shows up at slower speeds and worsens as the vehicle accelerates. If the shake occurs at high speeds, that's more likely a tire-balancing problem.
Loose steering wheel
As bearings begin to wear down, they can become loose inside the wheel hub and spindle, and you will feel this looseness with your steering wheel, which is more commonly called 'wheel play.'
Vehicle pulls to one side
While driving on a straight stretch of road, do you observe the car going anywhere instead of straight? When the wheel bearing accumulates too much dirt or corrosion, the smooth exterior lining can disappear, leading to more friction, and thus, the tires feel like pulling to one side or the other.
If you think you are driving around with more or less broken wheel bearings, stop and take your vehicle to your preferred service center. Despite how grave these issues may seem, this is something that's easily repairable, as long as you don't delay having the issue checked.