Are you hearing some noises coming from the front wheels when you press on the gas pedal? Well, maybe you have a front wheel bearing issue. If you think that this is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic.
Having a problem with your suspension components is not something that you want to treat lightly. Why I’m saying this? Well, I’m saying this because the suspension keeps you on the road. If you don’t have a properly working suspension, you are risking your life. And you don’t want.
Especially if it’s something this cheap like a wheel bearing. But more on the costs, later on. What is important for now is for you to understand the bad front wheel bearing symptoms. These are the clues that you need in order to determine what could be wrong with your suspension. Knowing how to diagnose this problem will save you a ton of money in the long run. Why pay a ton of money to greedy mechanics when you can pull this off by yourself? And we are going to help you out.
First, we will cover the basics of what wheel bearings are and the front wheel bearing diagram. Then we will learn why bearings are so important and then we will learn the bad wheel bearing symptoms. Then we will learn how to diagnose and replace them. And also the front wheel bearing replacement cost. So, if you want to learn more about wheel bearings, follow along.
What Are Wheel Bearings?
Now before we dive into more complex topics. Let’s introduce ourselves to the topic. Since not a lot of people reading this are familiar with the topic and know what is a front wheel bearing. If you feel that you have the grasp of the knowledge needed, you can jump to the front wheel bearing diagram or the symptoms of bad bearings. If not, keep up with us for a bit.
Nevertheless, wheel bearings are one of the most important components of your car. Why I’m saying this? Well, I’m saying it because it is true. Without wheel bearings, your car will not want to move.
The wheel bearings basically allow your car to move. Every wheel has bearings. There are two bearings per wheel.
The inner bearing is mounted on the inside and the outer bearing is mounted on the outer side. But what are bearings in general? What do these components look like?
Well, bearings have a simple design. The core of the bearing is a metal housing. In this metal housing, there are perfectly round steel balls. And between them, there is a ton of lube to make sure that they do not wear off.
If there is no lube in the bearings and you decide to install them like that, you will have to replace them really soon. Since they will basically destroy by the immense heat of the friction.
Luckily, most of the front wheel hub assemblies that are sold out there come pre-lubed from the factory so you don’t have to worry about this.
And as we mentioned this aspect, we need to cover the front wheel bearing diagram and learn the two types of designs that are out there when it comes to these front wheel bearings.
Front Wheel Bearing Diagram
Now let’s cover the front wheel bearing diagram and learn more about the two basic designs when it comes to wheel bearings. This will be very essential when it comes to determining what type of bearings you need for your car since these two design philosophies do not overlap and cannot be used interchangeably.
Now let’s cover the front wheel bearing diagram and learn more about the two types of designs.
1. Front Wheel Bearing In Rotor
The first type of bearing design that we would like to cover is the bearing in rotor design. If you have an older car, for example, a classic motor. Then you probably have one of these front wheel bearings on the car.
That’s why you need to distinguish these two designs. More on the latter in the following chapter. But when it comes to the bearing in rotor design it is worth mentioning that these bearings are basically integrated into the rotor itself.
These components come as a set and you have to mount them accordingly. The inner bearings go from the inner side of the rotor, then this bearing is greased and then a grease seal is applied.
On the outer side, there is the outer wheel bearing, a thrust washer, adjustment nut, nut retainer, cutter pin, and finally a dust cap. This is a complex front wheel bearing diagram because it incorporates a ton of components. Unlike the next design that we will cover, which is rather beginner-friendly and most of the carmakers nowadays are using it.
2. Front Wheel Bearing Hub Assembly
The most widely front wheel bearing diagram that is used nowadays is the front wheel bearing hub assembly. It is very popular because it is very convenient to use and install on any car. Unlike the bearing in the rotor that we covered above.
In this design, you basically replace the whole wheel hub assembly. From the knuckle to the wheel.
The hub assembly includes both of the bearings into one and they are often pre-lubed from the factory. So, no need to use lube.
Also, the rotor is separate from the hub itself. This means that when you replace the rotors you don’t need to replace the bearing or the hub. Far more convenient for maintenance.
It is also cheaper to replace the hub assembly than to replace the rotors along the way with the bearings. Especially if they are quite new and do not need replacing.
Just make sure that you get the right lug pattern front wheel bearing hub assembly and you will be good to go. Because if you install the wrong pattern, the tire will not fit. Overall, that’s all when it comes to the front wheel bearing diagram.
Why Bearings Are So Important?
So, why wheel bearings are so important? Well, there are a ton of reasons. But the main reason is that they allow your car to roll on the road. They help the wheel to rotate around the axle without problems. Without them, we will be stuck in one place. That’s why you need to make sure that they are always in check and in perfect working order.
Whenever these front wheel bearings wear out they are starting to show symptoms. And these bad wheel bearing symptoms could really ruin your driving experience. But more on that in the following chapter.
What you should know is that everything is expendable. And so are these parts. You cannot run the same bearings for a lifetime. Eventually, they will have to be replaced. And you should do this every 100,000 miles or so. Just to be on the safe side that you will not have to deal with the symptoms. But what are the symptoms? Let’s find out next.
Bad Wheel Bearing Symptoms
Now let’s discuss the bad wheel bearing symptoms. As with every other component in our cars, so the wheel bearings are starting to show their downsides sooner or later.
These symptoms are often visual or audible. The important thing for you is to absorb this information in the right way and come to a conclusion about what could be the problem. You need that mechanical ingenuity to understand how things are.
1. Bad Wheel Bearing Sound
Now let’s dive into the bad wheel bearing symptoms. The first thing that we would like to cover is the noises that are developed when you are experiencing a problem with a bad wheel bearing.
These noises will be very common when this component is shot and needs replacement. That’s why when it comes to diagnosing, this is the first thing that you need to look at. But what does the bad wheel bearing sound sounds like?
Well, this sound can resemble growling or grinding when you accelerate. The faster you go, the worse it will get and the chance of something going wrong will increase.
This is why you need to address the problem as soon as you start to experience these noises. In the video above, you can see how the car behaves when the driver is accelerating. The faster it goes the worse the sound gets.
If you activate your ears, it will be easy to tell which front wheel bearing is bad, the left or the right. But the best is to replace them both. Now let’s move on to the next in our list of a bad wheel bearing symptoms.
2. Vibrations On The Steering Wheel
The second in our list of a bad wheel bearing symptoms is the symptom when you experience vibrations through the steering wheel.
Imagine that your front wheel bearing is worn out, in this situation, there will be a loss of balance in the wheel that is affected. Causing it to wobble around. It will not go anywhere but the ideal straight line is lost.
When the wheel is out of balance and moves around, it will make the steering wheel vibrate. These vibrations will be really annoying to deal with and you will find driving that car extremely unpleasant. A clear sign that you need to check your suspension and make sure that everything going well. If the bearing is the cause, then you will have to replace it.
3. Car Pulls On One Side
The third in our list of bad wheel bearing symptoms is the situation when the car pulls on one side. This will be extremely noticeable whenever you have a bad front wheel bearing. Why is this the case?
As we mentioned above, whenever the bearings are worn out the wheel loses balance and the car decides to go in different directions. Depending much on what is causing the problem.
You might find it difficult to keep the car perfectly straight and driving it at higher speeds can even be dangerous because you constantly need to adjust the steering wheel on this vehicle. So, when you notice something like this, you either have a problem with the tie rods or with the bearings. This needs to be checked.
4. Wobble In The Wheels
The fourth in our list of bad wheel bearing symptoms is the situation with the wobble in the wheels. If you put a camera on the bumper and you record the movement of the tire, you will notice that it wobbles around.
In some cases, this wobble can be even visible to the naked eye when the car passes by. But in that case, you shouldn’t even drive that car at all because you never know when this bearing will fail completely and you end up crashing that car. That’s why beware of this and make sure that you don’t have wobbly wheels if there are, they indicate a bad front wheel bearing.
5. Uneven Tread Wear
And the last in our list of bad wheel bearing symptoms is the uneven tread wear. Whenever there is a bad bearing there would probably be a wheel that is not balanced.
This means that the wheel is out of alignment. When the wheel is out of alignment, you will highly likely have uneven tread wear. But what does this means in the first place?
Well, uneven tread wear is something that is affecting the cars that have bad or worn suspension components. It is the case when the wear of the tires does not wear evenly on all sides.
There is inner tire wear and outer tire wear. Both of them are not good, since the car doesn’t lay flat on the surface.
And if you keep driving like this with a car like this, you risk getting a puncture. If this puncture happens at high speed will be extremely dangerous. So, whenever you notice that the tires are not worn evenly, a repair has to be done to this car to return it to factory spec.
This will include diagnosing and replacing the front wheel bearing if necessary and replacing other components as well as the tires. Then do an alignment to bring it back to normal. But how you can diagnose a bad bearing? Let’s find out next.
How To Diagnose Bad Wheel Bearings?
Now as we covered the bad wheel bearing symptoms, let’s now focus more on diagnosing the problem. Still, there is a problem with your bearings and this needs to be confirmed.
For this, all of the symptoms that we have listed above are going to help you out determine this problem of a bad front wheel bearing. Specifically the noises.
Take your car for a test drive around the block where you can drive at higher speeds. Then pay attention to the noises that the car makes.
When a wheel bearing is worn, there will be some kind of howling or growling noises that will develop. It’s like you are driving with cheap winter tires. The noises from the wheels will be very noticeable.
You will also be able to pick up the location from where the noise is coming as well. You need to hear well and you will be able to tell which of the wheels has a bad front wheel bearing.
If you are still not sure, you can test the bearings manually. You will be able to do this by lifting the car in the air. More specifically the wheel that you suspect has a bad wheel bearing.
Then once the car is lifted in the air, you can move on to testing the component. The first thing you need to do is to place both hands on each side of the wheel.
Then give it a little wiggle left and right. If the wheel has play in it, then you need to replace this bearing that is affected. But how you can do this job? Well, that’s what we are going to cover next.
Front Wheel Bearing Replacement
Now let’s assume that your front wheel bearings are destroyed and need replacement, and you need to replace wheel bearings. What you can do and how you can do it and what tools you will be needing to do this work? Let’s explain.
In this situation, you will be needing new wheel bearings specific to your car. The best and the easiest thing that you can do is to replace the whole wheel hub assembly. You just don’t need to bother to replace the bearings. Since the whole assembly is really cheap. Then the next thing you will need is the tools that we are going to cover next.
Front Wheel Drive Bearing Remover And Installer Kit
In order to remove the front wheel bearing from the knuckle, you will need a special tool and hammer. This is a special set of tools. More precisely front wheel drive bearing remover and installer kit.
With this kit, you will be able to pull out the knuckle and then replace the bearings that are inside of it. You can also replace the whole hub and not bother with removing the bearings. But anyway, you will need this tool.
This tool can also serve many purposes like removing bushings, bearings retainers, axles, tie rods, and whatnot.
You can also get these things separate. If you want only the bearing installer. Or both with the slide hammer, it is up to you. Also in the video that we have attached, you can check how this process is done the right way at home using these tools.
If you replace the whole hub, only the slide hammer will be enough to get the work done in our opinion.
Front Wheel Bearing Replacement Cost
If you go only to replace the front wheel bearing, you can expect to pay about $30 on the average per bearing. But you will also need the slide hammer tool and the bearing removal tool that we listed above. And they can also cost some money.
Your best bet would be to get a complete hub assembly and the slide hammer that we recommended. This way you will save the most money in the process.
By doing this you will save a few hundred dollars. Since a new hub assembly is about $200 to $250.
Do I Need An Alignment?
And the last question when replacing a front wheel bearing is the question if you need an alignment when performing this work. And the answer is yes, you definitely need to do a wheel alignment if you want not to have uneven tread wear and other suspension issues in the future.
That’s why pay for alignment to get things sorted out the right way.
Wheel Bearing Facts:
- Wheel bearings allow for free rotation without friction and wear, and come in various shapes and sizes.
- Ball bearings are perfectly round metal balls and are good for light-to-medium applications but not heavy pressure and shocks.
- Straight roller bearings have a constant diameter straight across their entire length, making them good for some heavier-duty applications but unable to handle significant thrust loads.
- Tapered roller bearings handle heavy amounts of radial pressure, thrust loads, and hard shocks, and are most often used in wheel bearing assemblies mounted inside wheel hubs.
- Other components related to a bearing assembly include the race, bearing cage, bearing seal, bearing snap ring, wheel hub, wheel hub/bearing O-ring, bearing grease, and bearing grease packer.
- Bearing terminology differs for front-, rear-, and all-wheel-drive vehicles, and most axle and wheel bearing assemblies are blanketed under the term “wheel bearings.”
- Front-wheel-drive hubs usually use a pair of tapered style bearing assemblies next to each other, while many rear-wheel-drive vehicles with solid beam rear axles use bearings of the straight roller bearing type design or even ball bearing assemblies.
- Axle shaft bearings support the weight of the vehicle and come in ball-type, straight roller, and tapered roller types, with varying methods of lubrication and attachment to the axle shaft.
- When replacing bearing components, it is crucial to get the correct components and all necessary components, such as races, seals, grease, and special tools.
- Knowing the individual components of wheel bearings can help consumers make more informed decisions when purchasing replacement wheel bearings, hubs, seals, and components.
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to front wheel bearing and what this component does.
First, we learned what these components are and the two different philosophies in which are implemented. Then we have covered the symptoms of bad wheel bearings and how to diagnose whenever these components are due to be replaced.
Lastly, we discussed the replacement process, the tools you will be needing, and the cost that the job will require.
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
What Is A Wheel Bearing
A wheel bearing is a component that is included in the wheel hub assembly. The bearing is a metal housing that is filled with metal balls that are lubed up. There are two bearings on each wheel, inner and outer bearings. These components aid the wheel to rotate freely.
What Does A Bad Wheel Bearing Sound Like
A bad wheel bearing is producing noises. These noises can sound different depending on the extent of the damage to the bearing. But basically, the noise is something like a howling or growling noise. You might confuse it with tire noise. But whenever a bearing is bad this noise will be x10 times stronger.
How To Tell Which Wheel Bearing Is Bad Front Or Back
You can tell which one is bad based on the noises that this bearing produces. Howling or growling noises will be present. This sound might also resemble road noise. But x10 times stronger. The second thing is to test the wheel. Lift the car up and wiggle the wheel left or right. This is a clear sign that you need bearing replacement.
How To Replace Front Wheel Bearing Chevy Silverado 4×4
Replacing this component on your Chevy is easy. You will only need new bearings and a set of tools to remove these bearings from the hub. A special set of tools to remove and a slide hammer to slide off the hub itself.