Wheel Bearing Failure 101: What Can Cause It

Of the many problems you can encounter with your car, wheel bearing issues are a bit less frequent, but troubling all the same. Since they aren't as common as some issues, many drivers don't understand what causes them. Here are a few of the most common causes for wheel bearings to fail in your car and tips to avoid them.

Too Much Moisture

Wheel bearings are packed in grease for lubrication. This is important because the way they move will generate friction if they aren't properly lubricated. Unfortunately, water mixing with that grease can actually destroy that lubrication. While your typical rainstorms won't introduce moisture to the wheel bearing housing, driving through deep puddles on a frequent basis certainly can. Avoid this by steering around deep water on the roads to ensure that your wheel bearing assembly stays dry.

Pothole Or Impact Damage

Where wheel bearings are installed subjects them to a significant amount of pressure from your vehicle's tires and wheels. While they can easily sustain the pressure generated during normal driving, the excess pressure generated from driving over excessively rough roads, hitting potholes, or suffering impact to your tire (such as from hitting a curb or being in an accident) can be too much for the wheel bearing assembly. This can lead to imperfections in the bearings, which will ultimately alter the way that it moves in the assembly and deteriorate the lubricant at a much faster pace than it would under normal conditions.

Poor Tire Balance

Since your wheel bearings are so dependent on the proper balance of your suspension and your tires, if your tires are out of balance, it will put a strain on the bearings. This will cause premature wear and failing in the bearing assembly. You can eliminate this as a risk factor by ensuring that you have your tires balanced every time they are rotated.

Improper Installation

If you've recently had new wheel bearings installed and you're already noticing signs of failure, it could be due to improper installation. While it isn't typical, especially if an auto repair shop installs them, it can happen. Whether they weren't lubricated enough before they were installed or they were installed incorrectly, it can lead to failure shortly after installation. Don't dismiss the noise just because you think you just had them replaced. Have them checked out right away to avoid complete bearing failure.

Understanding the most common causes of wheel bearing failure can help you to be better prepared to prevent it in the future. Talk with your auto repair technician about wheel bearings repair today if you're concerned about your car's bearings.