Think your car has a bad wheel hub bearing? There are easy ways to check for a bad wheel bearing and replacing them doesn’t cost a fortune if you can do it yourself. Wheel bearings are just a bunch of steel balls held together in a race (basically a metal ring). The bearings are located within the wheel hub, riding on the CV axle. Wheel bearings improve the ride quality as they limit friction on the axle shaft when the wheel is spinning.
After a car gets a lot of miles on it, the wheel bearings should definitely be checked thoroughly. They are a common part that needs to be replaced on all cars at some point. If you drive on dirt roads and roads with a lot of potholes then you might go through wheel bearings quicker than others. It all depends on driving and road conditions. Always avoid potholes when possible.
Possible signs of a bad wheel bearing include…
- Grinding, grating or even a humming noise coming from one of the wheels when you’re driving. This is the most common symptom of a bad wheel bearing.
- Vibration in the steering wheel that gets worse as you accelerate.
- Uneven tire wear. Bad wheel bearings will cause uneven tire tread wear, which will have an impact on ride quality.
How to check for a bad wheel bearing
If you have a jack and stands to put your vehicle in the air then you can check for a bad wheel bearing. Once the car is jacked up and placed safely on a stand you can proceed to grab the wheel, with one hand on each side of it. Attempt to move it back and forth, side to side to check for any play and excess movement.
The entire wheel assembly will move if the wheel bearing is worn out, and if its sturdy and doesn’t budget you have a working wheel bearing.
You can also spin the wheel and listen for the humming or grinding noise.
Sometimes, a bad wheel bearing will only show up with one of the above methods, so check it by doing the wobble test and then check it by spinning the wheel and listening for it. The video above shows you what to do as reading it isn’t the same as seeing how its done.
Recommended Floor Jack and Stands: Torin Floor Jack Combo with 2 Jack Stands, 2 Ton (4,000 lb) Capacity
Replacing your bad wheel bearing…
Depending on the type of vehicle you have replacing a wheel bearing can be simple or actually rather complicated, requiring a press and special tools. Most of the time, it’s simple. You’ll have to look up the proper way to change a wheel bearing on your car. Luckily, YouTube has videos on almost everything and you will most like find someone showing you how to change it on your particular make and model.
In some situations, it’s actually easier and smarter to just replace the entire wheel hub assembly, as you can get them with the wheel bearings already pressed inside. This is a wise move if it’s an older vehicle and the current hub assembly has rust on it.
Find the right wheel bearings for your car from AutoZone, NAPA or another parts store near you. It’s always a good idea to shop around for the best deal on quality parts, not just the cheapest parts. Amazon has a wide selection of wheel bearings from reputable brands, and you can often find them cheaper online so it’s worth looking into if you can wait a couple days.