Signs of a bad wheel bearing…Pay attention!

Chances are when you start hearing a loud noise from under the hood of your car as you drive through Burke, VA, you automatically think it’s an exhaust leak or your car is going to break at any moment. But have you thought about the possibility of a broken — or nearly broken — wheel bearing causing that noise?

Wheel bearings are essential in the operation of your vehicle. More precisely, a wheel bearing is crucial for the proper function of the hub, tire and wheel assemblies to work together. The wheel bearing allows friction-free movement and rotation of the hub assembly, and thereby provides smooth tire and wheel rotation. When the wheel bearing goes bad, you will notice several symptoms.

  • Listen carefully. The most common and often most-identifiable symptom associated with a bad wheel bearing is noise coming from the wheel or tire area of the moving vehicle. You may mistake this as engine noise, but when you listen closely you are likely to hear grinding or grating that gets louder as the vehicle accelerates. Since wheel bearings are not known for wearing out that frequently, the noise is typically suspected to be something else and the problem overlooked.
  • Does your car feel loose? When you hear professional drivers talk about a “loose” car, you may not know what that means. It often refers to the steering of the vehicle, which can include wheel bearings. Wheel looseness, or also called wheel play, is another common symptom of a bad wheel bearing. As the bearing begins to wear down, they become loose inside the wheel hub and spindle, which makes your vehicle feel loose while steering.
  • Are you doing the steering, or is the car driving where it wants to? When a wheel bearing corrodes or becomes pitted, the smooth exterior lining is gone and the vibration is transmitted to the tires which may feel like it is “pulling” to one side or the other.
  • What about your tires? We all know the importance of rotating your tires to promote even wear, but did you know a broken wheel bearing can lead to uneven tire wear too? The looseness of the wheel and the vibration that reverberates through the wheel cause your tires to wear unevenly, meaning you are more likely to have to invest in new tires sooner.

If you suspect you are driving around Northern Virginia with a broken — or nearly broken — wheel bearing, stop in and see us today. Our team of trained technicians will quickly assess and repair your vehicle and have you back on the road in no time!

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