All vehicle wheels come fitted with bearings to keep friction low when the wheels are in motion. Inside these wheel bearings are steel balls held in place by a sturdy metal ring.
To keep these balls rolling at minimum friction, you are supposed to grease them regularly. If you fail to do so, friction can cause the balls to wear out and eventually hinder the functioning of the entire wheel roller.
And when the functioning of the roller is tampered with, things don’t stop there – they go a long way to causing problems to the functioning of the entire wheel.
So if you are wondering whether damaged ball bearings can cause transmission issues, the straightforward answer is YES!
Research has found that lousy ball bearings don’t only cause transmission issues but also affect the axle, CV joint, hub, and brake system components.
Frankly, it is hazardous to drive your vehicle when the wheel bearing has issues because the wheels can even stop spinning while driving the car, leading to an increased risk of an accident.
With that said, you may wonder what causes wheel bearing problems, how you can identify such issues, and what you can do about them. If that is something you need to know, keep reading our post to the end.
Can a Bad Wheel Bearing Cause Transmission to Fail?
If you leave your vehicle’s wheel bearing damaged for long, they can cause damage to the grooves in the axle shaft altering transmission though not to the extent of stopping it completely.
The real danger is when the damage causes the wheel(s) to stop spinning or to come out of the vehicle. If this happens while driving, the results can be catastrophic depending on your speed and where you are going.
What Problems Can Wheel Bearings Cause?
Damaged wheel bearing can lead to a series of problems. Some of them include;
- Increased tire wear
- Steering problems
- Too much heating on the wheels can cause long-term problems such as wheel fractures, damage to wheel brake discs, etc.
- Damage to the axle shaft
- Brake system component
- CV joint issues
- Hub problems.
What Happens If A Wheel Bearing Fails While Driving?
Various dangerous things can happen when a ball bearing fails while driving. For example,
- The wheel can abruptly stop spinning,
- The vehicle can lean on one side
- They can also come out of the vehicle
- The vehicle speed reduces drastically, and
- Steering and controlling the vehicle can become a problem
- If any of the above or a combination of them happens simultaneously, the result can be bad! That is the reason why you should always take wheel bearing issues seriously.
How Expensive Is It To Replace A Wheel Bearing?
The cost of replacing ball bearing varies depending on various things. For example;
- The type of vehicle
- The number of wheels with damaged ball bearings
- The kind of ball bearing you want to replace with
- Your mechanic
- Your ball bearing dealers
Considering all the above factors, there’s no one-fit-all price for replacing a damaged wheel bearing. However, the average cost of fixing these issues can fall between $300 and $500 and can go even higher.
Note that this includes the cost of a mechanic. So if you can manage the replacement on your own, you could enjoy better deals.
How Can You Tell That Your Vehicle’s Wheel Bearing Have Issues?
Understanding how to identify wheel-bearing issues can help you take the necessary actions before facing the unwanted consequences. Some things to alert you include;
- Grating or grinding noise, especially from the wheel area
- The tires of your vehicle are wearing unevenly
- You are experiencing steering problems – if you notice steering wheel vibration, particularly upon accelerating. Or if you notice the car is pulling more on one side.
- A loose steering wheel can also be an indication of ball-bearing issues.
What Causes a Wheel Bearing To Fail?
There are very many things that can damage your car’s wheel bearing. Some of these include;
Too tight bearing
One of the things that can cause the wheel bearing to go wrong is too much tightening. It causes metal-on-metal contact that causes too much friction. The case worsens with poor lubrication – there will be heat production which will eventually cause flaking.
Solution: You can avoid this problem by setting the bearing at a separation distance of, say, 0.001-in. to 0.005-in. Also, you need to ensure there’s proper lubrication all the time.
The bearing is too loose.
A wheel bearing will not only have issues when they are set too tight; it will also be a problem in case they are set too loose—such bearing a risky because it can cause the wheel to out while driving. The consequence wouldn’t be desirable.
Solution: The solution is similar to when there is too much tightening. Ensure the separation distance is not less or more than 0.001-in. to 0.005-in.
The next thing that will damage your wheel bearing is unbalanced vehicle tires. They cause unequal strain on certain tires and adversely affect the bearing of those tires – they wear much faster since they are overworked.
Like unbalanced tires, overloading also overworks the ball bearing, but this one overworks bearings in all the wheels (not some wheels).
Solution: You can reduce your load size or have the wheel bearing checked frequently if you must carry loads.
If you drive through mud, flooded regions, or road sprinkled with salt, your vehicle’s wheel bearing may be at risk. That is true because mud, water, and salt can find their way past the seal and weaken the grease lubricating the bearings.
As you have learned from this post, the wheel bearing is as essential as other parts of your vehicle. They are critical if you drive cargo vehicles. Unfortunately, they are the most neglected, which explains why many accidents result from bad bearings.
On the bright side, this car component gives you a lot of signs of problems and some of them are very loud. For sure you’ll know it’s time to replace them.
It would be best if you did not wait until you face the consequence of ignorance – have them checked and replaced, and you will appreciate driving smoothly with confidence.