How To Tell If Wheel Bearing Is Bad – Problem, Causes, And How To Fix It

Wheel bearings are much more complicated than most people think. There are many different wheel-bearing failures, and many different things can cause them. Knowing how to spot a failed wheel bearing is essential to diagnosing and fixing the problem.

There are two main ways to diagnose wheel bearing failure - visual inspection and listening for sounds. The latter is the best way to diagnose, as it allows you to determine if there is any previous damage that led to the failure or if there are other issues with the vehicle that could be causing the failure.

Wheel bearings wear out over time due to friction from the wheels, exhaust heat from the engine, dirt buildup, and road grime. If your wheel bearings are worn too far, they will not spin freely. When this happens, the wheel wobbles and makes a loud clicking noise when you drive.

If you hear a clicking sound coming from your wheel, it could mean your wheel bearings need to be replaced. Additionally, you should check your tire pressure regularly, as underinflated tires can rub against the wheels, causing them to wear faster.

If you feel that there is something wrong with your bike, such as a strange steering vibration, you should check whether or not your wheel bearings are damaged. If you notice that your front wheel vibrates while riding, you should ensure that your chain or sprocket is not broken.

The easiest way to test your wheel bearings is to take the wheel off and see if it makes any unusual noises. If you find that your bearings are worn, you should replace them before things worsen.


Table of Contents

What is a wheel bearing?

A wheel bearing is a component that ensures that the wheel can rotate freely without applying any additional force. In the case of a wheel, the wheel bearing ensures that the wheel rotates along with it. When a wheel bearing is worn, the wheel begins to wobble and can cause the vehicle to lose traction and skid.

Wheel bearings consist of steel balls held together in a metal ring called a race.

A hollow piece of metal is in the center of your wheels called a hub.

The wheel bearings sit tightly in this hub and run on a metal axle to reduce friction as the wheel turns.

Wheel bearings can wear out over time and may need to be replaced.

How to tell if wheel bearings are defective

A loud noise is an indication that wheel bearings need to be replaced, so replacing them is important. If you hear a strong noise coming from your wheel bearings, you should have them replaced as soon as possible.

Listen for an audible noise from the wheel bearings.

A car that feels loose when you drive may be due to a problem with the wheel bearings.

Rotating the tires regularly can prevent wear, but uneven wear can signify that the wheel bearings need to be replaced.

How to recognize bad wheel bearing noise

A bad wheel-bearing noise is very obvious. It is a loud grinding noise, usually in the front wheel, that can be heard any day or night.

A bad wheel bearing noise is easy to recognize and can be heard.

Loose steering and pulling are other signs of a bad wheel bearing.

Look for uneven wear on your tires and check the wheel bearings for wear.

Humming noises

A humming noise can be caused by various problems, some more serious than others.

It's important to distinguish between the different types of humming noises to avoid misdiagnosis.

Worn wheel hub bearings can cause a variety of unusual noises, one of which is a humming noise.

Humming noises are common.

Allergic reactions, sinus problems, and head trauma are just some of the possible causes.

Humming noises can be an indication of a more serious problem.

Squeaking & Growling

The sound of a defective wheel bearing can be cyclical and growling.

The noise will change depending on the speed of the vehicle.

It gets worse with each turn, or it disappears for a short time.

Dogs squeal and growl when they are in pain.

Dogs may squeal and growl when they have an ear infection or injury.

Treatment for ear infections includes antibiotics, pain medications, and sometimes surgery, depending on the severity of the infection.

Rear differential noise vs. wheel bearing noise

Rear differential noise and wheel bearing noise are warning signs that your car needs service.

Rear differential noise is usually caused by worn bearings, while wheel bearing noise is due to friction.

Our technicians will be able to determine what is wrong with your car if you are not familiar with what it is making.

Worn wheel bearings cause rear differential noise.

Wheel bearing noise can be a sign of other problems, such as worn suspension or drivetrain components.

You can test for wheel bearing noise by listening to it while driving.

A defective wheel bearing is a serious problem.

You should have your car's wheel bearings checked as soon as there are problems.

Wheel bearings can damage other components in the car, and if left unchecked, they can fail and lead to a serious accident.

In the event of wheel bearing problems, you should bring your vehicle to a Meineke repair shop.

A defective wheel bearing is a serious problem.

Wheel bearings are responsible for moving the wheels on your car.

When a wheel bearing fails, it can cause your car to lose power and start to lurch.

Getting into trouble with this while driving is a very serious thing.

If you notice one of your wheel bearings starting to act strangely, you need to act immediately."

Can you drive with a defective wheel bearing?

You can drive with a defective wheel bearing, but you will feel very uncomfortable, so you should have your wheels checked. For those who don't want to wait, they can try to fix it themselves.

A defective wheel bearing can damage other parts of your car, leading to a serious accident.

When you think your car is having a problem with a wheel bearing, you should have it inspected by a mechanic.

A wheel bearing is a component that helps keep the wheels on your car turning.

A wheel bearing can become worn or damaged over time, which can cause your car to start wobbling and making noise.

If you have a problem with your wheel bearing, make sure you have your car diagnosed and repaired by a mechanic.

Five signs of worn wheel bearings

The five symptoms of worn wheel bearings are:

  • Increased noise
  • Increased vibration
  • Decreased performance
  • Loss of power
  • Excessive wear

Your car makes unusual or new noises.

One of the most common symptoms of a worn wheel bearing is unusual noises coming from your car. This could be a grinding noise, clicking noise, or humming noise. If you're experiencing any new noises, it's best to get them checked out as soon as possible.

The wheel bearings are a likely cause of this problem.

The wheel bearings may be the problem if you are experiencing any of these five symptoms: noise coming from the wheels, vibration in the steering wheel, looseness in the wheels, inability to steer, or a burning smell.

If you have the tire/wheel assembly jacked up, you can check for the wheel bearings.

When you have a flat tire, the best way to tell if the wheel bearings are bad is to check the assembly while it is jacked up. If you can see or feel play in the bearing, it is likely that they are worn and need to be replaced.

The wheel bearing might be failing and creating friction.

The list of symptoms that could indicate worn wheel bearings is as follows:

  • The vehicle vibrates more than normal, 
  • There's an unusual noise coming from the tires, 
  • The vehicle pulls to one side when driving, 
  • The steering wheel feels loose, and 
  • There is excessive play in the steering column

Road testing, diagnosis, and replacement is necessary if you notice these symptoms

If you're experiencing any of these five symptoms, it's likely that your wheel bearings are worn and need to be replaced. The only way to confirm this is through road testing and diagnosis, followed by replacement if necessary.

Wobbly steering wheel when driving

A wobbly steering wheel refers to the customer's experience when buying a product online. The customer cannot make a purchase decision because the product's features are not clearly described, and the features of the product are described confusingly.

A wobbling steering wheel when driving indicates a defective wheel bearing.

Wheel bearings can become defective for many reasons, including wear and tear, accidents, and general use.

When wheel bearings are defective, they can cause the steering to become loose and wobbly, leading to dangerous driving conditions.

Reduced Acceleration When Driving

Decreased acceleration while driving is used to describe the moment when a vehicle slows down. A loss of control or concentration usually causes this, which is often caused by momentary inattention.

The wheels may clunk, grind, or whir, or the steering wheel may shake, pull to one side when braking, or the ABS dashboard light may illuminate.

Since the outer wheel works harder when turning, the noise from the defective wheel bearing decreases when it depends on the side with the good hub and increases when it turns on the side with the bad hub.

A worn wheel bearing can also cause the wheel to loosen and the steering to become sluggish.

The front hub assembly probably needs to be replaced if the steering wheel vibrates.

Grinding noises

Wheel bearings can make a loud grinding or roaring noise when they are worn.

Wheel bearings are usually a sign of a defective CV joint but can also be caused by inadequate bearing clamping.

It is important to have your car's bearings replaced as soon as possible to avoid safety issues.

Unevenly worn tires

Wheel bearings can affect wheel alignment, causing premature and uneven tire wear.

Signs of a worn wheel bearing include a grinding or grating sound from one of the wheels, interference with your car's alignment, and tire tread deterioration.

The sooner you replace the wheel bearings the better if they are worn out in this way.

One sign of a defective wheel bearing is uneven wear on a tire.

The steering wheel may feel "loose."

If the wheel bearing is worn, you will notice the tire and wheel moving back and forth.

Vibrating steering wheel

It is possible for a defective wheel bearing to cause the steering wheel to vibrate at low speeds.

When you hear grinding noises, wobbly steering, or an ABS light, the hub on the opposite side of the vehicle likely needs to be replaced: grinding noises, wobbly steering, or an ABS light.

To check if a hub is defective, you can lift the car at a specific wheel and jack it up while it is idling.

Causes of damaged wheel bearings

The most common causes of damaged wheel bearings are:

  • Excessive wheel speed.
  • Excessive load on the wheel.
  • Excessive tire pressure.
  • Excessive loading of the vehicle.
  • Excessive heat in the tire.
  • Excessive wear on the wheel bearings.

Damaged wheel bearings can cause a variety of noises and vibrations, including those that occur when driving in a straight line.

Damage to the bearings is usually an indication of a defective caliper or reservoir.

Severe looseness associated with worn or damaged bearings can cause excessive runout, which in turn can cause brake problems.

Damaged wheel bearings can be caused by some factors, including extreme bearing wear or looseness, improper installation, or damage from other failure modes.

Wheel bearing damage is usually related to other vehicle malfunctions.

How can you tell if your wheel bearing is defective?

If your wheel bearing is defective, you will hear a loud noise that sounds like a screech, and your wheel will begin to wobble. When you turn your steering wheel, your wheel will start to "whine" or "drag."

Now when you turn your steering wheel, the wheel turns, but your vehicle does not move or moves very slowly. If your wheel starts to wobble, you need to stop driving. You should also have your car checked.

Wheel bearings are critical to ensuring that the wheels harmonize with the hub and tires.

Wheel bearings can fail in different ways, but all wheel bearings have similar symptoms when they fail.

By determining which wheel bearing is defective, you can protect your car from accidents.

Pay attention to noises.

Keep an eye on how your car sounds.

Defective ball bearings produce an audible sound when they are worn out.

Other bearings, such as roller bearings, do not make as much noise.

If you notice any of these signs, you should bring your car in for an inspection.

Pay attention to noises in your car.

Wheel bearings can become loose and cause steering problems or spin, which means the car is going in a direction it shouldn't.

Rotating tires regularly can prevent wear, and uneven wear can be a sign of wheel bearing problems.

Inspect the tires.

Hub assembly damage can be caused by various factors, including uneven wear on tires or brake components.

Checking hub assemblies is easy if you have the wheels jacked up.

If possible, check the front and rear hubs at the same time.

Check the tires for wear or signs of damage.

Replace tires if they are worn or damaged.

Wobbling wheels.

While driving, check each wheel for wobble.

If a wheel wobbles, the bearing attached to it is probably damaged.

A mechanic can determine the cause of a wobbly wheel by a road test.

Rigid wheels.

Bad bearings are an indication of a safety problem.

To check for bad bearings, raise the car with a jack.

If a wheel feels sluggish, it has a defective bearing.

Pulling sideways when braking.

Response:

Side-pulling during braking is a technique that uses the side of the vehicle to slow down. It is often used on high-performance cars.

A defective wheel bearing causes side-pulling under braking.

To find out which wheel bearing is defective, you need to pick up the symptom and perform a simple task.

Rear main seals can also be a cause of side-pulling when braking.

What are the risks of driving with bad wheel bearings?

Having bad wheel bearings can result in a vehicle losing tire traction and skidding, increasing the risk of a rollover accident. Poor wheel bearings can also cause the wheel to wobble, making it harder to control the vehicle and increasing the risk of rolling over.

Wheel bearings are essential to connecting your wheel to your car, and any weakness in this connection can have serious consequences for your drive axle and steering.

You may need to replace your wheel bearing if you notice any of the following signs.

Keeping an ear out for strange noises: bad wheel bearings cause a wide variety of odd sounds.

If you experience vibrations when turning or changing speeds, you may need to replace your wheel bearings.

ABS failure: ABS failure or general problems could also be a sign that your wheel bearings are faulty.

What are the symptoms of bad wheel bearings?

The symptoms of bad wheel bearings are:

  • Noise from the wheel bearings (often accompanied by low oil pressure).
  • A loose or wobbling wheel.
  • A vibration when turning the wheel.
  • A vibration when braking.
  • A vibration when accelerating.
  • A vibration when cornering.
  • A vibration when going uphill.
  • A vibration when going downhill.
  • A vibration when driving over bumps.

Wheel bearings are critical to the interaction of your wheels and can be abused.

Faulty wheel bearing symptoms include noise, looseness, play in the steering wheel, and ABS malfunction.

Wheel bearings are integrated with the hub, tire, and assemblies. Before repairing or replacing them, you should look for the signs of a problem.

How do you check wheel bearings?

Choosing a jack that raises the car and spins its wheels is the best way to test the bearings. A defective bearing will cause the wheel to play and must be replaced.

  • Park your car on an apartment surface and pull the emergency brake. 
  • Lift the car and place it on a jack. 3. 
  • Turn the wheel and listen for grinding or clicking noises. 
  • Feel the wheel to see if it vibrates or wobbles. 
  • Remove the wheel and check the bearings for play.

How can you tell if a wheel bearing is defective on a motorcycle?

  • Listen for unusual noises while the ATV is in operation.
  • Check for excessive play in the wheel.
  • Inspect the wheel bearings for damage or excessive wear.
  • Take the ATV for a test drive to see if the problem persists. 
  • Replace the wheel bearing if it is found to be defective.

How can you tell if the front wheel bearing is defective?

There are some telltale signs that a front wheel bearing is defective. One sign is a noise that changes or disappears when applying the brakes. Another sign is that your car pulls to one side when you drive. If you suspect your front wheel bearing is defective, take your car to a mechanic to have it checked. 

How can you tell if the rear wheel bearing is defective? 

A car's rear wheel bearings are responsible for keeping the wheel in place while it spins. If they are not working properly, the wheel may wobble or shake. There are several ways to determine if the rear wheel bearings are defective. One way is to jack up the car and spin the wheel.

If it wobbles or shakes, the bearings are probably defective. Another option is to feel the bearing while the wheel is turning. It is perhaps defective if it feels hot or makes a loud noise. If the bearing has excessive play 

How can you tell if the wheel bearing on your car is defective?

There are a few ways you can tell if the wheel bearings on your car are defective. One way is to take the car for a spin and see if you hear any strange noises coming from the wheels. Another option is to jack up the car and spin the wheel; if it feels loose, the bearings may be defective.

You can also visually inspect the wheel bearings to see if they are losing oil or if the grease is leaking out. You should have your wheel bearings checked by a mechanic if you suspect they may be defective.

How to tell if the wheel bearing on your truck is defective

There are a few ways to know if a wheel bearing on a truck is defective. One way is to listen for a humming noise while the truck moves. Another way is to listen for excessive heat at the wheel hub. If this is the case, the wheel bearing is probably defective and needs to be replaced.

Rear differential noise vs. wheel bearing noise.

There are several possible sources of noise at the rear of a vehicle. One of the most common sources of noise is the differential. The differential is a gear located at the vehicle's rear that distributes power from the engine to the two rear wheels.

The differential can cause noise if worn or if the gears have too much backlash. Another possible source of noise is the wheel bearings. The wheel bearings are located at the ends of the wheels and ensure that the wheels turn freely. They can cause noise if they are worn or not properly lubricated.

The best way to distinguish between noise from the differential and noise from the wheel bearings is to jack up the vehicle's rear and spin the wheels by hand.

If the noise is coming from the differential, you will hear it when you turn the wheels in one direction, but not when you turn them in the other direction. If the noise comes from the wheel bearings, you will hear it when you spin both wheels equally.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can a bad wheel bearing affect acceleration?

Wheel bearings can affect a car's acceleration because they cause the wheels to spin. If a wheel bearing is defective, it can cause the wheel to wobble or not spin as freely as it should.

Can you drive with a defective wheel bearing?

A wheel bearing is a part of a car's suspension system. It is a metal bearing located between the wheel and the vehicle frame. Wheel bearings can wear out over time and cause the car to wobble or make noise when driven.

If a wheel bearing is defective, the vehicle should not be driven until repaired. Driving with a defective wheel bearing can cause the bearing to fail and cause an accident.

Causes of damaged wheel bearings

In most cases, failure of wheel bearings is caused by inadequate lubrication. Wheel bearings need to be lubricated regularly with grease, and if they are not lubricated, the heat and friction of the moving parts will cause the bearing to fail. Other causes of wheel bearing failure include contamination from water and dirt, overloading, and incorrect mounting.

Symptoms of front wheel bearing noise

A few common symptoms can indicate a failing front wheel bearing. A common sound you might hear when you drive is a loud humming or grinding, and this noise usually intensifies when you accelerate. Another common symptom is that your car begins to vibrate more than usual while driving. The front wheel bearing should be checked if you notice any of these symptoms.

How dangerous is it to drive with a broken wheel bearing?

A broken wheel bearing can cause the wheel to wobble or even fall off while driving, and this can be extremely dangerous as it can lead to an accident. Drivers should always have their wheel bearings checked by a mechanic if they have problems.

What are the symptoms of a defective front wheel bearing?

The front wheel bearings are responsible for the rotation of the front wheels. When they are defective, you will experience several symptoms, including noise when driving, vibration, and poor handling. When you drive, you might also notice that your car pulls to one side. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should have your front wheel bearings replaced as soon as possible.

Will my wheels fall off if my wheel bearings are defective?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is: it depends. If the bearings are excessively worn, the wheel may fall off. However, if the bearings are only a little worn, the wheel may still stop. It is always best to have the bearings checked by a professional to determine if they need to be replaced.

How can you tell if a sealed wheel bearing is defective?

If you are not sure if a sealed wheel bearing is defective, check a few ways. One way is to grab the wheel and shake it. If you hear a rattling sound, that could be a sign that the bearing is defective. The wheel can also be spun to determine if it wobbles; if it does, you may need new bearings. Finally, you can jack up the car and spin the wheel. If it feels loose, this could be another sign of a defective bearing.

Conclusion

If you have problems with your car and think it might be wheel bearing, we recommend you follow the 5 steps in this article. They will help you determine if the wheel bearing is defective and needs to be replaced.

John
 

John D. Archer is a mechanical engineer and writer based on the area of automotive accessories at brakeshub.com, A resident expert and professional, John is passionate about all things automotive and loves to share his knowledge. He has good experience in all kind of automotive accessories. He has worked as a chief mechanical engineer in some reputed automotive garage firm.