At one time, wheel bearings were serviceable and “packing the bearings” needed to be done from time to time. It’s a little trickier these days.
A wheel bearing is a crucial part of the wheel assembly that connects the wheel and the axle. It is a set of balls (ball bearings) or tapers (tapered bearing), held together by a metal ring. It allows the wheel to rotate smoothly with minimum friction. As you can imagine, with all those revolutions per minute, wheels can generate a lot of heat. The bearings keep that heat down as much as possible. They’re packed in grease for lubrication. The term “packing the bearings” refers to putting fresh grease around the bearings.
On many modern vehicles, the wheel bearing assembly is sealed. These wheel bearings are not serviceable. When the bearings wear, the entire assembly is replaced. Most of the time, your vehicle will let you know before failure happens.
Symptoms of a bad wheel bearing:
- Noise. Humming, rumbling or growling that increases with acceleration or on turns, loud constant whining or grinding noise when vehicle is in motion or clunking noises when driving on uneven roads.
- Excessive play (looseness) in the steering wheel.
- Steering wheel vibration that changes with speed and turns.
If you have any signs listed above, call or stop by Old Town Auto Service. Our technician will check your bearings to make sure they are still functioning safely.
Old Town Auto Service
Revised from content contributed by NAPA Service Assistant