Wheel bearings let the wheels rotate while supporting the entire vehicle. These bearings come with rolling parts inside them that help reduce friction.
These anti-friction wheel bearings come in the form of ball, roller, and tapered roller bearings. And while each of them has distinctive features, they all perform the similar task of converting sliding friction into a rolling motion.
Here’s everything you need to know about getting a wheel bearing replacement.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Wheel Bearing?
Usually, you can expect to pay anywhere between $100 and $300 on parts alone. Wheel bearing replacement costs vary depending on factors like product brand, your vehicle model, and other inclusions if bought as part of a kit.
Depending on your vehicle’s specifications, labor costs for a wheel bearing replacement will typically range anywhere from $150 to $800.
How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Wheel Bearing?
The cost would be the same as a replacement, as there’s no other way to fix a damaged wheel bearing than to replace it with a new one.
In some cases, you might even need to replace the entire hub because you won’t be able to get to the damaged bearing without disassembling the entire unit.
How Can Damaged Wheel Bearings Affect the Brakes?
A damaged or worn-out wheel bearing can cause the brake rotor to wobble on its axis, which can push the caliper piston into its bore.
Once this happens, you’ll notice that the brake pedal feels low or spongy because the piston is traveling farther than normal to apply braking power.
Types of Wheel Bearings
There are generally three types of wheel bearings一ball, roller, and tapered roller wheel bearings.
Ball bearings reduce friction by using hardened steel balls between the inner and outer races. This type of wheel bearing is designed to operate at high speeds and control an axle shaft’s thrust movement.
Although there is less friction when using ball bearings, they’re not made to support the same weight as roller bearings.
Roller bearings have rollers between the inner and outer races to reduce friction. Compared to a ball bearing, this type has a longer contact area to support heavier loads.
Some vehicles also have needle bearings, which is a type of roller bearing that uses smaller needle rollers. This type is not adjustable because the clearance between the diameter of the straight roller is manufactured into the bearing itself.
Tapered Roller Bearings
The tapered roller bearing is the most common type used in vehicles. It is designed to support both radial and axial loads.
Because both the bearing and rollers are tapered for this type, it can accommodate more weight. Unlike other types, the load on the tapered roller bearing is directed over the entire length of each roller instead of concentrating on a small spot.
Rollers on this type of bearing are secured in a cage between the inner and outer races. The tapered roller bearing is expected to move around the cage freely to allow heat expansion.
What Causes Bearing Failure?
Improper lubrication is the most common reason why wheel bearings can fail.
Contaminants like salt, dirt, sand, and the elements can also create the same problem.
Lastly, fatigue or spalling can lead to fractured bearing surfaces and cause the bearing material to break off after some time.
When Should Wheel Bearings Be Replaced?
Wheel bearings are generally designed to last the lifespan of your vehicle. However, driving conditions, habits, and other factors can cause them to fail like any other car part.
To know more about how you can prolong your wheel bearings’ lifespan, you can read our article here.
Driving with a bad wheel bearing is never a good idea. Aside from compromising your safety, you also risk damaging other parts of your vehicle, which can lead to costly repairs down the road. In extreme cases, driving with a bad wheel bearing can even cause one of your wheels to fall off while driving.
Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.