Premature Wear on Wheel Bearings
Whether you have an all-terrain vehicle or side by side utility vehicle, there are certain replacements that are pretty common. One of the more common repairs and replacements are wheel bearings. These small components are important to how your vehicle handles and rides. If you feel like you are replacing them quite often, you may be experiencing premature wear on wheel bearings. There are a few things to keep in mind about this matter.
Signs of Trouble
There are certain signs that your wheel bearings are in trouble that you need to know. While in extreme cases, you may be able to look at the bearing and see signs of wear and tear, most of the time you won't be able to tell by sight. Here are the main signs of wear on your wheel bearing:
- - Wheel vibration or wobble.
- - Popping or clicking sound.
- - Grinding when in motion.
- - Vehicle pulling to one side when braking.
- - Uneven tire wear on tire with worn bearing.
How often should the wheel bearing require replacement?
While most drivers would like a simple answer to this question, there are many outside influences determining how long a wheel bearing will hold up. For example, if you are going over tougher terrains than your buddy, his wheel bearings will take on less stress and last longer than your wheel bearing. While the terrain you cover will affect the stress put on the wheel bearings, there are general mileage guidelines you can use to gauge if you are experiencing normal or premature wear on wheel bearings. A well-sealed bearing can last upwards of 85,000 to 100,000 miles with some lasting as long as 150,000 miles depending on the terrain, quality of the bearing, and the upkeep.
What causes premature wear?
While the main component contributing to wear on any part of the vehicle is the mileage the vehicle drives, there are other possible culprits you can consider to reduce the wear and tear.
- - A loose bearing. If the bearing isn't tight enough, it will cause the vehicle to pull to one side or change the way it handles. Before assuming there is damage to the bearing, check to make sure the bearing isn't loose from riding over rough terrains.
- - An improperly tightened axle nut. The axle and the wheels work together so if there is a problem with your bearing, you can check the axle nut to ensure it's working and tight enough, so the wheels aren't trying to overcompensate for a lack of support from the axle.
- - Tread bare tires. The tires grip the terrain and provide motion. The wheel bearing takes the force and energy of the engine to move the tires. If the tires are tread-bare, the wheel bearing will work overtime to try to compensate and will bear the brunt of the force. If you don't replace old, worn tires, you will experience premature wear on wheel bearings.
- - Extra weight on the vehicle. Most vehicles have a suggested weight limit for riders as well as a tow capacity. These figures are there to protect your vehicle from excessive wear and tear. If you are not following these guidelines, your wheel bearings may be one of the first areas to show wear and tear as they try to do their job under the extra weight.
- - Tough terrain riding. While your vehicle is most likely designed for rough terrain riding, this doesn't mean it won't take a toll on the wheel bearing over time. If you ride rough terrains on a regular basis, you are more likely to have wheel bearing damage than someone who only rides their vehicle over tough terrain occasionally.
- - Dirty bearing. If the bearing is full of dirt, debris, or mud, it will have a harder time causing the motion needed to turn the wheel. Make sure you keep the wheel bearing clean to help prolong the life of this important part.
- - Not keeping the seal lubricated. While the wheel bearing itself should be kept clean, the wheel bearing seal should be well lubricated. This should be part of your regular maintenance schedule of things to check and maintain.
- - A broken seal. Aside from keeping it lubricated, a seal should be in good working condition. A seal with tears or thinning won't be able to perform the job as well and this will eventually cause strain on the bearing itself.