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FAQs Concerning Wheel Bearings
Do both sides of the wheel assembly hubs need to be replaced at the same time?
No, it's not necessary to change both whee's hub assemblies (and wheel bearings within) at the same time. DIY mechanics should check both sides for failing wheel bearings if one side of the driving axle is bad.
What is the most common kind of failure to occur in wheel bearings
Other than normal wear and tear, the most common kind of wheel bearing problem is leaking seals. When the seals break, the lubrication starts to degrade or becomes gunked up.
What is it that I’m hearing?
When wheel bearings go bad, there’s usually metal to metal contact sans lubricant. Without the lubricant, the wheel bearings overheat and start to degrade faster. The lack of lubrication can cause larger vibrations felt in the steering wheel, too.
Is it dangerous to drive with bad wheel bearings?
Yes. Bad wheel bearings could have worn out or have a bad seal. Improperly sealed wheel bearings lose lubrication and can seize. Since this is part of the drivetrain, that means your wheels seize and stop turning. While wheel bearings can sound bad for many months before this happens, it’s a good idea to replace them as soon as possible.
Signs You Need New Wheel Bearings
- Abnormal tire wear
- Play in the wheels
- Noise from wheel area, such as grinding or rumbling
- Steering wheel vibration
- Locked or seized axle
Wheel Bearing Types
There are only two kinds of wheel bearings, those used on the driving and non-driving wheels.
- Tapered wheel bearings – used on non-driving wheels
- Roller wheel bearings – used on the driving wheels
How to Install Wheel Bearings
There are two ways to do a wheel bearing job:
- Replace the whole hub (with wheel bearings inside) as a unit (recommended)
- Replace the wheel bearings individually (not recommended for those without a press)
Replacing the whole hub is a simple DIY project. And remember, pictures during disassembly are worth their weight in gold when reassembling. Instructions for front-hub assemblies and rear replacement may differ.
- Loosen lug nuts, jack up end of vehicle with bad bearings, then remove wheels
- Remove brake assembly (brake caliper and then brake rotor) from hub
- Disconnect ABS Wire, if ABS system is equipped
- Loosen bolts attaching wheel hub assembly to the knuckle
- Remove the wheel hub assembly
- Clean the surface of the backing plate, such as with sand paper or industrial cleaner
- Re-install all items in reverse
Is there more information from Advance Auto Parts about wheel bearings?
There sure is! Check out our handy How-To guide titled "Don’t Get No Respect: Wheel Hub Assemblies and Wheel Bearings".
I chose the harder wheel bearing breakdown DIY. How do I lubricate the wheel bearings?
Check out this Advance Auto Parts article about How to Lubricate Wheel Bearings.
Are weird sounds from my suspension always the wheel bearings going bad?
No, wheel bearings aren’t the only part that could be causing noise in that area. Check out this article on Troubleshooting Your Vehicle Suspension for more information.