The High Cost Of Putting Off Wheel Hub Replacement

A worn wheel hub can lead to safety issues and added repair costs. When a wheel hub fails, it can prematurely wear tires, brakes, and suspension parts. Prompt attention to a worn wheel bearing helps to avoid unnecessary and costly repairs.

What Is A Wheel Bearing And Hub?

Wheel bearings allow a car’s wheels to spin with as little friction as possible. The wheel hub rides on the inside of the bearing assembly and houses the studs or bolt holes to secure the wheel and tire assembly. There are two common types of wheel bearings – ball and roller bearings. Ball bearings contain a series of polished steel balls held in place by a metal ring with smooth, machined surfaces called a race. They are lubricated and sealed for life. Roller bearings contain small metal cylinders within a cylinder housing. They provide more surface area, making them ideal for heavy-duty applications. They can become contaminated with dirt and debris but are easily disassembled for repair. Roller bearings must be serviced on a regular basis to prevent premature wear.

Wheel Bearing Problems

There are several possible symptoms of a failing wheel bearing. Some symptoms may be similar to other vehicle problems, so an accurate diagnosis is important. Noticing the early warning signs is critical to avoid more expensive repairs. Here are the common symptoms:

  • Humming Or Growling Noise That Changes Pitch With Speed – If the wheel bearings lose lubrication from a damaged seal or from age, they can start to generate friction. This friction can result in noises of varying intensity.
  • Vibration Felt In The Steering Wheel Or In The Seat While Driving – When enough heat and friction occur from a lack of lubrication, the surface of the bearings and the race will wear. Once the bearings and race are no longer smooth, they will transmit vibration into the vehicle.
  • Pulling To One Side While Driving – When a wheel bearing fails on one side of the vehicle, it generates more friction. Since one wheel spins freely while the other does not, the vehicle may start to pull to one side.
  • Uneven Tire Wear – As a wheel bearing wears, it can cause excessive play in the wheel hub as it rotates. This play allows the wheel to move side-to-side as it rotates. Since the tire cannot maintain smooth contact with the road, unusual wear patterns can develop.
  • Uneven Brake Pad And Rotor Wear – Excessive play in the wheel hub can also cause premature brake wear. Since the brake rotor rotates on the hub, too much runout can prevent the brake pads from maintaining smooth contact with the rotor.

Diagnosing Wheel Bearing Problems

Wheel bearing noises can be a challenge to pinpoint. If you’re uncertain you have a bad wheel bearing, it’s important to rule out other issues. Wheel bearing noises can sound similar to other problems. Inspect for uneven tire wear and brake pad wear. Worn brake pads and rotors can make the wheels spin roughly or cause a grinding noise. Tires with unusual wear patterns can cause noises while driving. While bad wheel bearings could cause these issues, maintenance can also be a factor. See our post on Is it Bad Brakes Or the Wheel Bearing? for more information.

If you determine the wheel bearing is bad, this indicates a failure of lubrication and free bearing movement. This is a dangerous condition that can result in a loss of vehicle control. A bad wheel bearing requires immediate attention. Do you need more help on how to diagnose or inspect your wheel bearings? Have a look at our comprehensive blog post, Symptoms Of A Worn Wheel Hub Bearing.

When you’re ready to purchase new wheel bearings, learn more about why you should choose GMB wheel bearings.

GMB Wheel Hubs And Wheel Hub Bearings

Noticing (and heeding) the early warning signs of wheel bearing or hub failure is critical to avoid expensive repairs. GMB offers high-quality parts that your customers can trust because we are:

  • An industry-leading manufacturer of both OEM and Aftermarket automotive parts since 1943.
  • Conveniently located on both the east and west US coasts, and global locations in Asia and Europe.
  • Ready to offer support. If you have any questions about our products, please contact us.


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