We all know that our trucks cannot run safely or normally without good, solid wheels. What we need to know is that the wheel is far from a simple component. In fact, the structure of the wheel is very complex. It consists of many parts. Wheel bearings are a good example. The wheel bearing is very important for the wheel to work together, especially for the harmonious work of the wheel hub, tire and components. But they are also prone to failure, which is why truck owners must know the warning signals about wheel bearings.
What are wheel bearings
The wheel hub bearing is a group of steel balls or cones. We can call it “ball bearing” or “tapered bearing”, or “race”. In the center of the wheel, there is a hollow metal plate, which we can call “hub”. The hub bearing is installed in the hub to help rotate the wheel, which also helps reduce the friction generated when the wheel rotates. However, wheel bearings are different from engine bearings because they do not have a fixed source of lubrication, which means they need to be tight enough to prevent water and road dust. The wheel bearings ensure that the truck can travel smoothly on the road. If the wheel hub bearing does not exist, the wheel will generate incredible heat when rotating at high speed for a long time. The wheel bearings can support the weight of the whole vehicle when driving, which is why they can withstand the rough roads, potholes and lateral forces suffered by the truck when turning. However, like most truck parts, wheel bearings will also be worn after being used for a long time, and may even need to be replaced.
Working principle of wheel bearings
There is a relatively simple structure inside the wheel bearing: a smooth metal ball inside and outside, which helps to roll. The load weight carried by the ball itself – the force of the load weight is the force that drives the rotation of the bearing. However, not all loads exert forces on the wheel bearings in the same way. Generally speaking, there are two different loads: radial load and thrust load. First, let’s talk about radial loads. For example, in the pulley, we simply put the weight on the bearing to make the bearing roll or rotate due to tension. But the thrust load is obviously different. The thrust load is to apply stress to the bearing in a completely different way. The bearing turns over on its side and receives complete force at this angle. The bearing used to support the high stool is a typical example of thrust load. Many bearings are susceptible to radial and axial loads. For example, a truck tire bears a radial load when traveling in a straight line: the tire supports the truck’s gravity and is under tension, while rolling forward in a rotating manner.
Symptoms of Bad Wheel Bearings
The most common cause of damage to truck wheel bearings is that they are damaged by water or overheating. Wheel bearing wear occurs when the seals around the bearings are worn or torn, exposing the bearings to debris. But in addition, there are several causes of wheel bearing damage.
1. Strange sound
Bad wheel bearings will cause all kinds of strange noises, so when the truck is driving, you need to pay attention to whether your truck has some strange noises. As the truck owner, it is necessary for you to know which sounds are normal for the truck, so that you will be alert when you notice abnormal noises when driving the truck. For example, if your truck makes a “buzz”, squeal or growl while driving, it may be that there is a problem with the wheel shaft of your truck. If the wheel hub bearing is in poor condition, no matter at what speed we drive, we will hear the friction sound, and the friction sound will accelerate at the same pace as the truck, and even become louder or quieter when turning, depending on whether the truck’s turning inner wheel bearing or outer wheel bearing is defective.
2. Tires are worn
As time goes by, trucks will be used by us for more and more years. If all parts of the truck are safe, it will not matter much. But if we use bad wheel bearings in the steering assembly more often, the tires will wear more. However, if the tire is worn unevenly, this is actually a very abnormal phenomenon. Many truck owners will ignore this, because they will think it is ordinary tire wear and do not pay attention to it. We should know that the four tires of the truck are evenly aligned on the ground, which means they should be worn evenly. However, poor wheel bearings will lead to positioning problems and uneven tire wear. The tire with the most wear is usually the tire with the wheel bearing broken and needs to be replaced. And truck owners should need to rotate the tires regularly, which helps prevent tire wear.
3. Steering wheel vibration
Generally speaking, when your truck vibrates, you must feel the vibration of the steering wheel when you hold it. However, when there is a problem with the wheel bearing, you will not feel the vibration at a higher speed, as when the tire is unbalanced, but at a slower speed. It is also possible to feel the vibration when the truck is turning or changing speed. This is another reminder of wheel bearing damage that we need to pay attention to when driving. If we don’t pay attention to it, eventually, as time goes on, the vibration will become more and more intense, and become worse and worse as the truck accelerates. You obviously want to replace the damaged wheel bearing before reaching this point.
4. Truck slows down
If you drive a truck one day and find that your truck will suddenly slow down by itself. That may be because the hub bearing of your truck is worn or defective. They no longer allow your wheels to travel on smooth roads, so the wheels move slower. If you let this problem go on and don’t solve it, it will eventually cause the wheels to stall. This means that the truck will not drive and you will not be able to drive your truck until you replace the wheel bearing that caused the problem.
We do not recommend driving with bad wheel bearings. This is not only very dangerous for you, but you may eventually hurt or kill other drivers on the road. If you ignore the problem of bad wheel bearings, your wheels may stop working when you drive, or even strike suddenly when the truck is turning. In addition to the danger, a bad wheel bearing will exert a lot of pressure on other parts of your truck, such as the wheel hub and gearbox. If you do not repair the faulty wheel bearing as soon as possible, you may need to spend more money on truck maintenance services later. You may also notice that your truck’s tires wear out faster and faster, which means you need to buy new tires more frequently, creating a cycle. In summary, all of these potential side effects of poor hub bearing may end up more expensive than the original problem.