Signs of a worn out wheel bearing.
Many people may not know that your car doesn’t just have a simple wheel bolted onto an axel like the old soapbox cars you made as a kid. There are actually a few parts that make up a wheel assembly, that all function together to allow your car to roll smoothly down those pothole-ridden city streets. One of the most important parts of that assembly is the wheel bearing. This part is responsible for allowing that seemingly frictionless rotation between of the hub assembly, providing smooth rotation of your tire on the road. If that bearing is going bad, there are some signs you can look for that will indicate you need to get it checked out!
The most obvious sign is a grinding noise that comes from the wheel assembly area. Sometimes this can be mistaken for a noise coming from the engine, but a good way to distinguish between the two is to listen while you accelerate. If it is a malfunctioning wheel bearing, the noise will get louder as you accelerate and continue to wind down with the speed of the car even when you completely let off of the gas pedal.
Another obvious sign of a bad wheel bearing is loose-feeling steering. If your car feels as though it is lagging in reaction to your steering inputs or requiring more steering input to make a standard turn, that could be caused by a worn-out wheel bearing. Similar to loose steering, if the car feels as though it is steering itself, or moving around the road without moving the steering wheel, that is another sign of a bad bearing.
If you recently had to rotate your tires, and it seems that the tread has already gotten an uneven wear again, you may want to check your wheel bearings. Sometimes a broken wheel bearing can cause uneven wear on your tires and may go unnoticed as routine tire maintenance. The loose wheel hub and vibrations caused by the broken bearing can lead to strange wear on your car’s tires.
If you are experiencing some or all of these signs, you probably ought to have your car checked out by a professional. When you take it in for the checkup, mention these problems you have been having, and suggest that you think the wheel bearings may be the cause of the issues. Try to take it in as soon as possible, because like most other car problems… the longer you wait, the more damage you can cause!