Wheel bearing noise
Tire noise can easily be mistaken for wheel bearing noise since it can be hard to diagnose. In some cases, it can be challenging to determine which wheel is causing the noise, even when a noisy wheel bearing is a culprit. By allowing the wheels to rotate with minimal friction, wheel bearings serve their primary purpose. At the point of stopping, a vehicle’s bearings begin to cool off, which results in a vacuum resulting from the lubricant, air, and contacting metal.
This vacuum should be maintained by the seals. When the hub or bearing is not sealed, it will start drawing air from outside, which might include water or other contaminants. As a result, the bearing might be damaged or noisy.
What are the causes of wheel bearing noise?
Wheel bearings travel with the wheel and have a constant speed. Since the wheels are in contact with the road while driving, it is possible for the wheel bearing to make these strange noises or become damaged for a variety of reasons. The following are some of the most common causes of noisy wheel bearings.
1. Improper installation
If you recently replaced the wheel bearings, then it would seem strange if they failed at any time afterward. Only the incorrect installation of the wheel bearings or installation against the manufacturer’s recommendation could have caused damage to the wheel bearings.
2. Driving in deep water
For wheel bearing seals to work, the pressure must be allowed to leave the wheel bearings. They are lubricated with petroleum-based lubricant at the factory. The only problem is that this lubricant does not stop water from getting through. Unless you drive a car on a dry street, your bearings will likely become wet if you go on a flooded road. This causes the lubricant to mix with the grease, making it ineffective. This results in excessive friction and eventually damaged bearings.
Likewise, a modern wheel bearing would not be serviceable or repairable. Replacement of the wheel bearing would be the only solution for water damage.
3. Driving on rough roads
The wheel bearings support the entire weight of the vehicle. You could damage your wheel bearing quickly if you drove over a bumpy curb or pothole. A ball bearing’s balls will probably get forced into the bearing’s race when you hit something, the grooved ring where it sits. Small imperfections will appear in the direction.
When you drive with these imperfect bearings, you will experience increased heat and friction. It will soon cause tiny pieces to fall off, contaminating the lubricant of the wheel bearing and accelerating its failure. However, it is possible that the loss might not be noticeable for a few months.
4. Unbalanced tires or faulty shock absorbers
Wheel bearings, tires, lower arms, lower joints, knuckle arms, and shocks make up the wheel system. Unbalanced tires could damage some of those other parts, which will cause the wheel bearing to make noise.
5. Accidents near or on the wheel area
In addition to the wheel bearings moving constantly, all the other parts mentioned in the last point are also connected to the wheel bearings. In an accident involving the wheel area, the wheel bearing may also be damaged, and there would be noise to be heard.
What does a bad wheel bearing sound like?
You may hear the sound of a rumble strip on the highway shoulder if you have a damaged or broken wheel bearing. It won’t be very loud at first, but as the bearing’s condition deteriorates, it becomes louder. Wheel-bearing noise can also be described as the sound of hitting the spokes of a bicycle wheel when you are a kid on a bicycle with a playing card attached. On an empty road, drive at 30 to 40 mph while turning your steering slightly left and right, almost as if you’re weaving in and out of your lane safely.
If you make that turn, you’ll hear more wheel-bearing noise (especially towards the front) since physics allows more weight to be transferred to the side of the vehicle. Additionally, this can help diagnose which wheel has the bad bearing and is causing the noise.
Identifying damaged or noisy wheel bearings
Using a jack, you can lift the vehicle off the ground until the tire is off the ground. Moving the tire in a horizontal direction first, then a vertical one is good. In the case of a wobbly wheel or some free play, the bearings may need to be repaired. When inspecting the wheel bearing, you may hear a variety of noises. It will differ according to how much damage the wheel bearing has sustained. The speed may also influence how loud the wheel bearing sounds. It’s possible to hear a noise while driving at 60 MPH, but as soon as you accelerate to 65 MPH, it goes away.
There is a slight chance that this can happen if there is damage to the bearing. If there is damage to the path, you may not notice it immediately. Feel for any excess play like the one mentioned above to tell if there is any. When you see the wheel moving when you push and pull on it, have your car checked by a mechanic. An expert can determine if the wheel bearing is damaged or another part, such as the wheel rim or the tire, is damaged.
How long can you drive with a bad wheel bearing?
Driving with a bad wheel bearing is a dangerous situation that should be addressed as soon as possible. A wheel bearing is a crucial component that helps the wheel to spin smoothly and quietly. When it starts to wear out, it can create a loud noise and cause vibrations in the vehicle. In some cases, a bad wheel bearing can even cause the wheel to seize, leading to a complete loss of control.
The length of time that a vehicle can be driven with a bad wheel bearing varies, but it is never recommended to drive for an extended period of time. Driving with a damaged wheel bearing can put excessive stress on the other components of the vehicle, potentially causing further damage. If you suspect that you have a bad wheel bearing, it is best to have it inspected by a professional mechanic as soon as possible.
They can diagnose the issue and recommend the best course of action to get you back on the road safely. Don’t take the risk of driving with a bad wheel bearing, it’s always best to have it repaired sooner rather than later.
This guide should have helped you understand wheel bearings. Bearings on your vehicle’s wheels allow the wheels to rotate independently of the hub with the least amount of friction possible. The majority of paths are designed to last thousands of miles. In the end, bearings do wear out, and the sound they make is an early indication they need replacing.