Wheel bearings are an integral part of any car and it’s important to keep an eye on things to make sure that everything is in working order. When the need arises though, you will need to change it. How long does it take to replace a wheel bearing you may ask?
We are going to be exploring just that in this article. We will look at what to look out for when deciding on whether the wheel bearing needs changing. We will look at what you need on hand to change your wheel bearings and the precautions you need to take.
In short, you need about 30 minutes to an hour to change wheel bearings. The time it takes is determined by the type of car. If you are changing a wheel bearing on a 4×4, you will need a couple of hours to do the job.
Bearings are a safety critical part of your car and you need to take the necessary precautions in order to maintain your safety. In light of this, we are going to look at the reasons why bearings fail do that you do your best to avoid them failing.
Why Do Wheel Bearings Fail?
A wheel bearing is made to ensure a smooth drive for your vehicle. It is generally designed to last a very long time. You can expect to get 85,000 miles to 100,000 miles out of them.
This, however, hinges on the quality of the bearings as well as how well you drive and take care of your car. From time to time, it will happen though that your bearings will fail. We want to help you understand the reasons why this sometimes happens so that you are mindful of them and avoid having faulty bearings.
1. Bad Driving Habits
This is arguably one of the leading reasons why bearings develop problems. When you drive through potholes or speed over speed humps, you put a lot of pressure on the wheel bearing which may lead to damage.
This, however, is unavoidable when you are driving in off-road conditions, for example. The terrain is naturally uneven and hostile towards your wheel bearing. You can still take some measures in this environment to protect them but a vehicle that is exposed to off-road conditions more often than one that isn’t will suffer a high probability of wheel bearing damage. When driving, do your best to ensure that you don’t put the wheel bearings under any undue stress and they will go the distance.
2. Poor Quality Bearings
If your wheel bearings are not made of the best quality materials, they are more likely to experience failure. They will not be able to withstand the stress that high-quality wheel bearings can go through. What eventually happens is that you will need to replace them much sooner than expected. Besides the replacement costs, you will also be putting you and your loved ones at risk as a faulty wheel bearing can put you at a high risk of a bad accident.
3. Faulty Installation
Bad workmanship will also result in your wheel bearings giving up on you. When it comes to replacing them, always go with a qualified and experienced mechanic who knows what they are doing.
A good mechanic will use the right tools and methods to ensure that all is done properly. One of the main reasons why you may have trouble with the bearing is when old supporting parts, nuts and bolts are used. These will not hold up well in the long term and could give out causing the wheel bearing to get damaged. Make sure that everything is replaced when changing your wheel bearings.
4. Big Tires, Lifts and Other Mods
Another huge reason for faulty bearings is when mods are made on the vehicle without factoring in the strain they will put on your bearings. When you install bigger tires, rims or lifts, you add extra pressure on the wheel bearings meaning that they can get damaged more easily.
When a car is designed, the engineers factor in a lot of things. The bearings that are installed on the vehicle are specific to the way that particular vehicle is designed.
You will often find that different trims of the same vehicle will have different versions of the same part. This is done to make sure that the car operates at optimum levels without undue strain on any of the parts. When you mod a vehicle, it can result in your wheel bearings giving out much sooner than usual even if they are good quality ones.
5. Heavy Impact
Heavy impact is one of the ways through which wheel bearings can be damaged. Hitting potholes and other objects on the road like the curb can also result in damage. We did not put this under bad driving habits because sometimes it really is an accident.
How to Recognise Bad Wheel Bearing
How do you know when a wheel bearing needs to be replaced? There are a number of signs that will reveal a bad bearing.
1. Humming or Clanking Noise
One of the most common is a humming or clanking noise that changes as you change speeds. It may also be pronounced when you turn corners. If you hear this, you need to have your bearings checked.
2. Malfunctioning ABS
The sensors in the ABS are located close to and work with the wheel bearings. When the bearings are damaged, it can eventually affect the ABS leading to it not working properly.
3. Too Much Free play or Vibration in the Steering
Wheel Damaged wheel bearings can also lead to a loose steering wheel. In other instances, the steering wheel will vibrate instead. If you experience this, you need to get the wheel bearings looked at.
How Long Does it Take to Replace a Wheel Bearing?
Now that you know how to recognize a bad steering wheel, let’s look at how long it will take you to replace a wheel bearing. It all comes down to the vehicle’s make and model.
However, a ballpark figure for most cars is 30 minutes to an hour. Front-wheel bearings will take a little longer than the ones at the back. These take 45 minutes to an hour while the back ones take roughly 30 to 45 minutes to change.
In the case of a 4×4 though, this time increases significantly and you can expect to take hours on the job. This is because the mechanism in 4x4s is a bit more involving.
DIY or Professional When Replacing a Wheel Bearing?
When it comes to replacing wheel bearing, should you go it alone or make use of an experienced professional? The answer to that is unless you are a seasoned mechanic, this is a job best left to the professionals. Bearings are a safety-critical part of your vehicle and need to be handled with the appropriate care.
You simply can’t afford to experiment and DIY. You would be putting yourself and others at risk if you don’t do it the right way. Be warned that engaging a skilled mechanic for this job is not so you need to be prepared accordingly.
Robert Anderson is a world class motorhead who rebuilt his first carb at age 10, his first engine at age 15, and completed his first full hotrod build when he was just 18! Previously, he has ran a part warehouse, delivered pizzas, and managed the service department for a $20 million/year revenue dealership. Robert knows cars like few others and he is passionate about sharing his knowledge.