Wheel Bearing Noise – How To Diagnose A Bad Wheel Bearing?August 8, 2021
So, you have started experiencing some weird noise coming from one of your wheels? You shouldn’t worry because you are probably having a wheel bearing noise.
- What Is A Wheel Bearing?
- Wheel Assembly Components
- Symptoms Of A Bad Wheel Bearing
- How To Check Wheel Bearing
- How To Replace A Wheel Bearing DIY?
- Wheel Bearing Noise After Replacement
- Wheel Bearing Replacement Cost
Like every piece on your car so the bearings have a lifespan. They last for long periods of time. But eventually, they fail and develop some issues like the wheel bearing noise.
Suspension components are important because they keep you on the road. So, keeping them in check is a crucial thing to do. If you are not having a properly working suspension you will end up in an accident or you can get stranded on the side of the road.
So, addressing all these issues on time is crucial for your comfort and safety. Make sure that you immediately book an appointment with your mechanic to see what is going on inside of your wheel assembly. Or if you are a DIY guy like we all here then you are in the right place, because in this article, we are going to learn everything you need to know when it comes to wheel bearings.
In this article, we are going to cover all the details when it comes to wheel bearings. Starting from the basics and then move to more complex topics. We will learn why wheel bearing noise starts to appear. We will also see how these bearings are replaced and how you can perform this replacement DIY. Then we are going to talk about the costs and how you can address this issue effectively. So, follow along.
What Is A Wheel Bearing?
The wheel bearing is one of the most important components of the suspension system. This bearing is connecting the wheel assembly with the wheel and the axle.
This bearing is basically a casing with a lot of steel balls. This allows the bearing to rotate at great speeds without worrying if it’s going to fail. The bearing also has a lot of grease on the inside to prevent wear.
And number one reason why these bearings fail because the lube inside of the bearing is dissolving and escaping from the bearing as time and miles build upon it. That’s why they are recommended to be changed after 100,000 miles.
There are two bearings. Inner bearing and outer bearing. When one of them is faulty, the best thing is to do both of the bearings. This is the case because one of them has failed. The other one also is nearing the end of its lifespan.
Wheel Assembly Components
The wheel hub assembly is responsible for giving the ability of your wheel to rotate around the axle in a perfect manner. This wheel hub assembly is made out of a couple components and one of which is the wheel bearing.
The first thing you see when you start to disassemble to front suspension is the cotter pin. This pin has to be removed in order to reach the retainer bolt.
After removing the retainer bolt then you reach the nut. You remove the nut and the washer. Once removed the nut and the washer you are able to get to the hub and bearing assembly
Remember that the hub and bearing assembly is the part that produces the wheel bearing noise.
The hub and the bearing assembly have to come off in order to replace the bearing that is inside of it. These are the main parts that you need in order to get this thing sorted.
Symptoms Of A Bad Wheel Bearing
When the bearing is failing. It starts to develop some symptoms, as we said the most pronounced is the front bearing noise. And that’s something that we are going to discuss now and then we are going to cover the other symptoms of a bad wheel bearing.
1. Wheel Bearing Noise
The first symptom when you are having a bad wheel bearing is the noise that is coming from one of your wheels. This noise can be constant or appear from time to time. In some situations, it only appears when you are turning on corners.
Either way, when you are experiencing strange sounds that are coming from the front of the vehicle, it is a good idea to check the wheel and see if there is any play. If there is any play, it’s going to instantly tell you that your wheel bearing needs replacing.
Just jack up the car in the air and then put your hand on top of the wheel and the other hand on the bottom. Give it a good wiggle. If there is some play, then you need to start thinking about replacing the bearing. The wheel bearing noise is a dead giveaway. But there are also some other symptoms worth considering checking out.
2. Traction Control Light On
Traction control on light is probably one of the consequences of bad wheel bearing. Remember that when you are having a bad wheel bearing your wheel spin is not even and the traction control light may light on because there is not sufficient traction on the road.
So, imagine how your tire is wobbling around instead of going dead straight. This is causing the traction control light to light on and tell you that there are some issues with the traction.
The traction control light usually turns on and off, but when there is something seriously wrong with your traction system it’s going to stay on until you decide to connect your car to an OBD2 scanner and inspect what could go wrong with it.
The code reader will tell you everything you need to know when it comes to this problem.
3. ABS Light On
Another light connected to the bad wheel bearing issue is the ABS light turned on. This is because the ABS sensor is connected to the hub and bearing assembly. This sensor will instantly tell you when there is something wrong with your suspension.
If this light pops on, then you have a problem. The best thing to do in this situation is to try to wobble the wheel and see if there is any play. This will tell you if you are having a problem with your front wheel bearing. If there is no play. It is a good idea to scan the car with an OBD2 scanner and see what is the issue.
Scan the car for codes and go through each of them until you get this problem fixed. Fixing the ABS system is important because this system is allowing you to break on time and avoid incidents on the road.
It has saved my life numerous times and I’m really thankful for it. Whoever invented this system deserves a reward. That’s why you need to make sure that the ABS system is always in check and functions properly. This will guarantee your safety and the safety of your occupants.
If you found out that the issue is the wheel bearing, then replace the bearing right away and remove all the codes from the system. If again some codes start to appear then you will have to get a new ABS sensor or an ABS module.
How To Check Wheel Bearing?
There are three ways that you can check your wheel bearings. Listening, checking the wheel for play, and scanning the car with an OBD2 scanner tool for codes.
The first way to check for a bad wheel bearing is to listen when the car is driving. If there is wheel bearing noise that is coming from one of the wheels you will be able to identify it and hear from where the noise is coming.
Then you can move to the next part and that involves checking the wheel for play. In order to perform this, you will have to jack up the car in the air and shake the wheel to the left and to the right. If there is play then you need to address the issue.
If you listen noises but there is no play it is also useful to get an OBD2 scanner tool and scan the car for codes. If you get any codes that are connected to the ABS system then you very probably have a bad wheel bearing issue.
Now you only need to get new bearings, a small amount of grease, and start wrenching on your car. And how you can perform this work? Well, we are going to discuss that later.
How To Replace Front Wheel Bearing DIY?
We learned a lot about front wheel bearings and how they work and which are the main symptoms when a front wheel bearing goes bad and how to diagnose it.
Now it’s time to see how we can replace these bearings. Because we DIY guys are here for that reason only. We don’t allow some dealerships to mess with our cars. We wrench on our cars and we fix all the problems by hand.
So how we can replace a wheel bearing? This is a simple process but you will need some tools like wrenches, torque wrench and breaking bar, and a big old hammer. If things get stuck, we need to persuade it a little bit in order to remove it.
Note that this tutorial is for cars that have the hub assembly attached to the rotor. So, let’s begin.
Step one involves jacking up the car and removing the front wheel. This is important because there is no way you can access the bearing without removing the wheel.
Now it’s time to remove the dust cap and cutter pin. After this, you will have to remove the nut retainer. Then you will have to remove the adjustment nut and thrust washer. After removing all these pieces, we have reached the outer bearing and the hub assembly.
Now it’s time to remove the bolts that are holding the wheel hub assembly. This step also includes hitting the knuckle with a hammer in order for the hub assembly to separate from the knuckle. A few light taps with a plastic hammer will do the trick.
After removing the wheel hub rotor assembly now it’s time to remove both of the bearings. They are usually held by seals and they have to be removed in order to access the bearings.
After removing the bearings now it’s time to replace them with brand new ones. Make sure that you grease them. You don’t want to leave your bearings dry because you will have to replace them again.
Assemble the new bearings and put everything back in the proper order as you removed it. Make sure that you work slowly and don’t rush. Since its your first time you may easily forget something. After reassembly, you can take a test drive around the block.
If there is still ABS light on, make sure that you erase all the codes with a code reader and you are good to go.
For a tutorial how to replace a wheel hub assembly that is not blended with the rotor, you can check the following video.
Wheel Bearing Noise After Replacement
If you are experiencing some noise after installing the new bearings then it’s probably something that you forgot to install or you didn’t apply enough grease.
Remember that you need to soak these bearings with grease in order not to hear wheel bearing noise on your car. If you are hearing noises you need to disassemble the wheel assembly again and see where you made a mistake.
Wheel Bearing Replacement Cost
If you get only the wheel bearings you can expect to pay around $25 to $50 for the bearings. If you bought a whole wheel hub assembly then you will have to pay a bigger price.
In my opinion, it is better to replace the whole hub assembly with a new one. A new assembly can cost around $70 which is not that expensive considering that you don’t need to remove the bearings and replace them with new ones. Just plug and play.
In this article, we have covered everything when it comes to wheel bearing noise and bad wheel bearing. We learned how the wheel assembly is built and what is the purpose of the wheel bearings.
Then we have covered the symptoms of a bad wheel bearing. And these were the ABS light, the traction control light, and the wheel bearing noise that is coming from the wheel.
Then we learned how to address these problems in a DIY fashion. Replacing a wheel bearing is not that expensive. You just need some tooling and you can start wrenching on your car.
If you want to learn more about mechanical issues, we have a lot more articles that cover plenty of topic. We can recommend the coolant hose leak symptoms and tune up cost, if you are planning of doing a tune up soon this may come in handy.