Have you noticed a strange rumbling or growling noise whenever your vehicle is rounding a bend? Further, does the noise appear to emanate from the left or right corner and seem to be coming from the direction of the wheel? If so, you may be encountering an issue with a wheel bearing, a very important if a small part, and you need to take a much closer look. What could be going on?
Dealing With Friction
A wheel bearing is a self-enclosed part designed to fit between the road wheel and the suspension hub. It forms the interface between a moving part and a static component and is designed to reduce friction as much as possible while enabling the vehicle to perform.
Inside The Bearing
The bearing consists of an outer casing and an inner compartment filled with miniature ballbearings and lubricating grease. The entire unit is sealed and cannot be maintained, but as with anything mechanical, it can eventually wear down.
Dealing With Stress
The wheel bearing is such a crucial part because it not only allows the wheel to rotate while the hub assembly remains in place, but it also needs to deal with lateral forces when the vehicle turns a corner. It's designed to put up with a lot of stress, but it can also begin to deteriorate as time goes by and the driver encounters potholes, kerbs, rough roads, mud and standing water.
Each time you take your vehicle to a mechanic for a routine service, they will carefully inspect the bearing for any free play or damage. If they find anything untoward, they'll replace it together with the o-rings, clips and other perishable items required. Typically they will also replace the bearing on the opposite side to be safe and as these parts are usually about the same age.
Checking It Out
Elevate the vehicle on a trolley jack if you want to do a quick check at home to see if the bearing is okay. Grasp the top and the bottom of the wheel at the 12 and 6 o'clock positions and try to push and pull. If there is any free play, the bearing may be on its way out, and you should certainly call your mechanic for further advice. You may also begin to notice some vibration through the steering wheel, and the grinding noise may become a more pronounced "click." If you get to that stage, you need to take even more urgent action.
For more information about auto repair, contact a local repair shop.
I've been running an auto service shop for the past 30 years. The trends in cars have changed a lot over that time, and cars are becoming a lot more complicated and automated. People can't fix many items on their own cars any more as you need a computer to diagnose most issues. People use their cars a lot more these days as we live further away from workplaces and schools so it's important for me to be able to get cars back quickly. I have had to keep learning about how the new cars run and I keep a lot of hints on this site so you can all learn the things you can do to make your cars run better.