Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Wheel Bearings
March 7, 2016
Why are wheel bearings for Novi vehicles important? It's simple: your wheel bearings keep the wheels on your vehicle. In today's Sovel's Auto Service post, we'll discuss more about wheel bearings and how you can make sure they can do their very job while you drive around Novi, Michigan.
Wheel bearings are pretty simple parts. They're made of high quality steel and are engineered to last 100,000 miles (160,000) or more if properly cared for. The bearings do two jobs: First, they allow the wheel to freely rotate with as little friction as possible. Second, they support the weight of the vehicle. For example, if your car weighs 3,600 pounds (1600 kilogram), each wheel has to support approximately 900 pounds (400 kilograms). That's a lot of heavy lifting over those long distances.
Even though wheel bearings are pretty straightforward, they need to be in near perfect condition to do their job for Novi vehicles. The bearings are packed with heavy grease to lubricate and protect them. A seal keeps the grease in and water and dirt out. It's when the seal starts to leak that problems begin. The grease can become contaminated, causing the wheel bearings to overheat and ultimately fail.
The first sign that your wheel bearings are in trouble is an unusual noise coming from a wheel. It could be a chirping, growling, rumbling or a cyclic sound. The noise could get louder or even disappear at certain speeds. Your technician at Sovel's Auto Service can inspect for bearing wear by lifting the vehicle and checking for play in the wheel.
Now some wheel bearing assemblies are factory sealed. That means that they cannot be serviced – they can only be replaced. Those that aren't sealed can be serviced on schedule at Sovel's Auto Service. The bearings are removed, cleaned and inspected. If the bearings are still good, they're re-installed – if not, they're replaced. They are then packed in grease and a new seal is installed.
If your vehicle has a factory sealed wheel bearing assembly, the entire assembly needs to be replaced when trouble arises. Unfortunately, the parts are pretty costly – but they usually last about 150,000 miles (240,000 kilometers) as long as the seals hold up.
Now, even a good seal cannot keep out water that's exerting pressure on the seal. So if you've driven through hub-deep water, your bearings should be cleaned and repacked if they're serviceable. If you have factory sealed bearings, you just need to watch for signs of premature failure. If your wheel bearings can be serviced, your manufacturer's owner's manual will recommend an interval, usually around 30,000 miles (50,000 kilometers).
If you have any sort of trailer, don't forget its wheel bearings. They probably need to be serviced even more frequently. This is especially true for boat trailers that are used to launch the boat by backing it into the water. These should be serviced every year, usually at the end of the season so that the bearings don't have the opportunity to rust all winter.
So what happens to Novi vehicles if wheel bearings fail? Well, the wheel can literally fall off the vehicle. I don't need to tell you how that could be. So check with your service advisor at Sovel's Auto Service and see if your vehicle's wheel bearings can be serviced and when it's recommended. Listen for warning signs. If you've been fording streams or puddle surfing after rainstorms, be especially vigilant.
Visit the automotive professionals at Sovel's Auto Service for a wheel bearing inspection.
Sovel's Auto Service
41425 W. 10 Mile Rd.
Novi, Michigan 48375
More articles from Sovel's Auto Repair Novi
Slippery When Wet (Driving on Wet Leaves)
May 28, 2023
When the leaves fall, you might take a sightseeing trip to see them at peak color. Or you may simply live in a spot where there are a lot of trees. When those leaves get wet, you'd be surprised to learn just how slippery they can be. We all know ice is slippery to drive on. What causes tires ... More
Helping Novi Drivers Get the Right Tires
May 21, 2023
Every Novi vehicle owner has to purchase tires at some time or another, so it's a good idea to understand what the choices are. The best seasonal performance is achieved by purchasing tires to match the season you are driving in. Summer tires are designed for hot temperatures. The tread is engin... More
Speak Up: Talking with Your Sovel's Auto Service Service Advisor
May 14, 2023
About 80% of the vehicles on Novi roads today are behind on their preventive maintenance schedules. That translates to about 160 million vehicles in the United States that aren't performing as well as they could be - thousands right here in Michigan. Some of the maintenance issues are minor. Othe... More