Every vehicle uses wheel bearings at each wheel to reduce friction. Most modern vehicles will use a hub assembly that contains the hub and wheel bearing. Some older vehicles will use wheel bearings that are separate components and are installed in the hub, rotor or spindle. Shop Advance Auto Parts for OEM-quality parts from Driveworks, Carquest, MOOG, National, ACDelco and more.
Some wheel bearings are integrated with the brake rotor, but many aren't. The wheel bearing cuts friction between the wheel and spindle, and a worn or failed wheel bearing can be downright dangerous. Wheel bearings are essential to reducing friction between your wheel's hubs and the spindle. Signs of wear can be difficult to pin down, but a foolproof way to check is to grab a suspended wheel by the top and bottom, and tip it in and out to look for excessive wear.
Replacing hub assemblies and wheel bearings can be a DIY job, but the level of difficulty varies depending on the vehicle. Always remember to check your vehicle's repair manual first to ensure you are using the right tools and parts to complete the job.
If you need to use high-temp grease for your repair, remember to follow the manufacturer's recommendations when choosing the right grease. Shop Advance Auto Parts for OEM-quality wheel bearing kits.
Do both sides of the wheel assembly hubs need to be replaced at the same time?
No, it's not necessary to change both wheel's hub assemblies at the same time.
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.
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.