Want to Become a Mechanic? Make Sure You Know the 3 Signs a Wheel Bearing Needs to be Replaced

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Wheel bearings are essential for any motor vehicle. They allow a vehicle’s wheels to rotate smoothly and with as little friction as possible. They also help hold up the weight of the vehicle and ensure it handles corners smoothly. When a wheel bearing is worn down or fails, it’s a very serious issue as the wheel could become stuck and stop rotating. In extreme cases, the wheel may come off the vehicle entirely. Obviously, that’s the last thing any driver wants to have happen!

So, if you’re considering a career as an auto mechanic, you should always keep your eye out for the telltale signs of a worn wheel bearing. Here’s how you can tell if there may be an issue with a vehicle’s wheel bearings.

1. One or More Wheels Making Odd Noises Could Indicate a Wheel Bearing Issue

The most common sign that something is wrong with one of the wheel bearings is if a roaring or airplane-like sound emanates from one of the wheels. In some cases, the sound may be more like a chirping or rumbling. Often it gets worse when the vehicle is turning or if one side of the vehicle is bearing more weight than the other. It may also only be noticeable at certain speeds.

If you get a customer complaining about a wheel making strange noises after completing your auto mechanic training program, be aware that the problem bearing isn’t usually in the wheel where the sound is coming from, but in the wheel opposite to the sound. So, make sure you inspect all of the wheel bearings if one of the wheels is making strange noises.

2. Auto Mechanics Should Watch Out for Wheels that Feel Loose or that Pull

The way a vehicle feels and handles while it’s driven could also point to a wheel bearing problem. For example, the wheels may feel loose or less responsive to steering as the car is being driven. This may be due to a wheel bearing having worn down and become loose.

Likewise, if the car feels as though it is pulling to one side, particularly when turning, it may be a sign that the bearings need to be replaced. However, keep in mind that a car that feels loose or that pulls while driving isn’t always an issue with the bearings. It can also indicate a problem with the caliper, equalizer, or the tires themselves.

3. When You Become a Certified Mechanic, Look for Leaks Radiating from the Hub Assembly

On most vehicles today the wheel bearing is kept within a sealed hub assembly. This assembly helps protect the grease that covers the wheel bearing and ensures it works properly. It helps it avoid becoming contaminated with dirt, road salt, and dust. However, if the hub assembly itself is damaged then it could cause the grease to also become damaged. When you become a certified mechanic, one common sign that the assembly is broken is if you see grease marks radiating from it. These marks are a sign that the assembly needs to be inspected to see if the bearings are compromised.

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