Signs of a bad wheel hub bearing may vary in severity. Some may be hard to detect resulting to damage before repairs can be taken. The time period in which damage occurs is attached to driving conditions and/or the mechanical procedures that were used at installation. Noise is a foremost sign of a bad wheel bearing or wheel hub bearing. Here are some signs of a bad wheel hub bearing and other wheel-end damage:
- Snapping, clicking or popping sounds
This can show a bad or damaged outer CV-joint but it also can be caused by excessive bearing endplay, usually associated with inadequate clamping. This noise is often heard when taking a corner or making sharp turns.
- Grinding Sound when the vehicle is in motion.
Normally this means there is mechanical damage in a wheel-end unit. When it has to do with a bearing, it means a loss of integrity such as roller or raceway has been spoilt. The noise is normally heard when turning or when there is a shift in load.
- Knocking or clunking Noise.
This can indicate excessive play in the CV-joints or U-joints. It also may be caused by excessive backlash in the differential gears. This is not always associated with bearings and is normally heard either when shifting from changing directions, such as from forward to reverse or transitioning from accelerating to coasting.
- Humming, rumbling or growling sounds.
These noise are normally associated with tire, electrical or drivetrain parts. If bearing-related, the noise or vibration is heard when driving in a straight line, but increases when turning the steering wheel slightly to the left or right. normally, the side opposite the rumbling is the bad side.
- Wheel vibration and/or wobble.
This is most often associated with a damaged or worn tire, wheel or suspension part or severe chassis misalignment. When it has to do with the hub or bearing, this normally shows the loss of clamp or a bearing with extreme mechanical damage. It also can occur when lug nuts are not rightly torqued.
- Shudder, shimmy or vibration at a uniformed speed.
This is usually associated with worn or damaged suspension parts or tires that are out-of-balance or out-of-round. It is not normally sign of hub or bearing damage.
- Abnormal one sided pulls when brakes are applied.
This is normally sign of a bad caliper or equalizer, but it also can be a sign of bad brakes or rotors. But severe looseness brought about by a bearing can also cause excessive run out, which may cause the brakes to pulsate or pull. The most common cause is a warped rotor because to the caliper not retracting.
- Uneven rotor or brake pad wear.
This is normally indicative of a bad caliper and/or a bad equalizer, which is not bearing-related. Severe looseness related to a worn or damaged bearing can cause excessive runout, which can cause uneven wear on the brake pads and/or rotor. The most common cause is a warped rotor due to the caliper not retracting.
- Abnormal or uneven tire wear.
There are varied causes of abnormal tire wear. The most common are worn or damaged suspension parts, misalignment, improper inflation or tire selection. While extreme bearing wear or looseness can cause abnormal tire wear, it is often related to other failure modes.
- ABS failure, which could be internal or external to the bearing or hub bearing assembly.
In extreme cases, internal and external sensors can be damaged from excessive movement caused by too much end-play. This shows a lack or loss of bearing clamp. This normally is caused by severe mechanical break up or damage. (Additionally, in designs where the sensor is mounted externally, sensor damage can result from corrosion, stones and other hazards.)