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Telltale Signs of A Worn Wheel Hub Bearing and Common Causes of Failure

Sep. 27, 2022

A worn wheel hub bearing is a pretty big deal. If you let it go on long enough, the wheel could literally fall off while you’re driving. That could cause a catastrophic accident that puts your life and others’ lives at risk. That’s why it’s important to watch out for the signs of a worn wheel hub bearing.

We put together a comprehensive list of telltale signs of a worn wheel hub bearing. Read on to find out what they are.


Wheel Hub Bearing

 

Telltale signs of a worn wheel hub bearing

1. Unusual Noises

“Unusual noises” is quite vague, but for a good reason. There are many, many unusual noises associated with a worn wheel hub bearing. Some of the most common noises include:

Knocking/Clunking Noise While Turning

When a wheel hub bearing wears out, it puts extra stress on the CV-joint. That can cause the knocking/clunking noise when you turn the vehicle.

Crackling Noise

The crackling noise is a result of a worn or damaged outer CV-joint. It may also mean excessive bearing endplay due to poor clamping.

Rumbling/Growling Noise

This noise is particularly prominent when the vehicle is traveling in a straight line. It gets worse when the vehicle is turning slightly at a speed of 15-50 mph. In a normal situation, you can pinpoint the problematic wheel bearing if you hear this noise. In most cases, the bad bearing is the cause of the rumbling noise.

Grinding Noise

If you hear a grinding noise, that means there’s a loss of integrity in the steering or suspension system. For instance, there may be roller or raceway damage. When you have a worn wheel hub bearing, this noise is prominent when the vehicle is turning.

If you’re hearing unusual noises, this guide will help you determine which wheel hub is bad.


Wheel Hub BearingWheel Hub Bearing


2. Loose Steering Wheel

When a wheel hub bearing goes bad, you may feel some looseness in the steering wheel. When a bearing wears down, it becomes loose within the wheel hub and spindle. This will make your steering wheel feel loose.

3. Vehicle Pulling To The Side When Brakes Are Applied

Worn bearings become loose. As a result, excessive runout happens. This causes the brakes to pulsate or pull. In other cases, a corroded or pitted bearing transmits the vibration through the steering. This can cause pulling to one side, too. Your vehicle will pull to the side of the failed wheel bearing.

4. Uneven Tire Wear

This happens when the wheel bearing becomes bad enough. Most likely, you will hear noises before uneven tire wear happens. A worn wheel bearing makes the wheel loose. This causes the tire to wear out unevenly.

5. Wheel Vibration And Wobble

When your wheel is vibrating and/or wobbling, the bearing is very loose. It’s because the bearing has lost its clamp. There may be some severe mechanical damage, too.

 

Common Causes of Failure

The most common cause for wheel hub bearing failure impacts. When the tire and wheel hit an object or road defect hard, the bearings can be damaged. Likewise, broken or worn seals can allow moisture or debris into the hub, causing the bearings to deteriorate.

Other things that can cause premature bearing failure are:

Two other problems that are often left undiagnosed when wheel bearings repeatedly fail are a worn bearing hub and transient current flow through the knuckle. If the bearings were grinding or otherwise making their failure known for any period of time, it’s likely that the bearing hub took some damage. When removed, it will show signs of scraping or dimpling. It may also be out of round. Any of these means the hub should be replaced.

Premature wear can also be caused by transient current flow, which is the friction created by faulty electrical grounds which allow current to build upon the moving parts of the chassis. Vehicles build up static electricity during operation and this is usually dissipated by the vehicle’s ground points. Bad ground points = bad news.

 

The Importance Of Using A High-Quality Replacement Wheel Hub Assembly

When it’s time to replace a wheel hub assembly on a vehicle, it's important to use a high-quality replacement unit. This post has 3 great reasons to avoid using a cheap, low-quality wheel hub assembly.

At Longfei Bearing, we make OE-quality wheel hub assemblies for many different makes and models. As a high-end brand in automobile-bearing manufacturing industry, Longfei Bearing has more than 20 years of experience in automobile bearing design and manufacturing, which can meet the most stringent requirements of customers. Products through ISO/TS16949, ISO9001, THE EU CE certification, and other certificates, won domestic and worldwide customer recognition. The initial design concept of the plant was to produce bearings of high quality and performance based on the following core principles.

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66 Panzhuang Bearing Industrial Park, Linqing City, Shandong Province, China.

+86 635 277 7999

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