What to know about cleaning and repacking the wheel bearings
A car’s wheels spin on tapered-roller bearings which lay between the stationary axle spindle and the rotating wheel’s hub/brake mechanism. There are bearings on the inner and outer side of the hub to rightly assist the wheel. These are greased when installed, but the grease can, and does, break down over time, allowing rough contact between the various elements. When left unattended, this will result in wear and, ultimately, to bearing failure.
Facts to Note:
As we know, noise is the first symptom of metal-to-metal contact, it’s likely that something bad has already occurred, and that bearing replacement may be essential.
The job will need the removal of the wheel and brake assembly, so it might be advisable to check the brake pads, steering tie rods and suspension pieces in the process.
If you’re going to do a single wheel, it’s only logical that you should also do the other side.
How to fix:
- The vehicle is raised and allowed to rest on jack stands
- The front or rear wheels, brakes and hubs are taken away from the vehicle
- The front or rear wheel hubs, bearings are cleaned and greased then install a new grease seal in hub
- The front or rear wheels, brakes and hubs are fixed back on the vehicle
- The vehicle is lowered off of the jack stands
- Ensure that this job is done when your vehicle reaches high mileage, particularly if it has been operated with heavy loads or on unusually bumpy roads.
What is a common symptom indicating you need to clean and repack the wheel bearings?
- Any observable noise from the wheels. It can start as a squeal, and then turn into a growl or even a grinding sound.
Importance of this service:
A wheel bearing failure can lead to the wheel coming off the car. Clearly, that could cause an accident or, at the very least, serious damage to the vehicle. It’s certainly worth discussing with one of your mechanics.