How Do You Know If One Of Your Car's Wheel Bearings Is Damaged?

A wheel bearing is a ring made from hardened steel that connects an axle to a wheel. Your engine rotates your car's axles while you're driving it, and the wheel bearing rotates along with it in order to rotate the wheel it's attached to. Since wheel bearings are what keep your wheels attached to your car, they're an extremely important component. As a result, manufacturers design them to be very durable.

Unfortunately, wheel bearings can start to break down like any other component in your car. They can lose the lubrication that keeps the attached wheel turning smoothly, or the steel can begin to corrode and wear away. It's important to pay attention to the signs of a damaged wheel bearing, since it's such an important component — a wheel bearing that fails can cause your wheel to lock up, which will result in you losing control of your vehicle immediately. To learn what signs of a damaged wheel bearing to watch out for, read on.

You Hear Noise Coming From Your Wheel

When a wheel bearing starts to lose the lubricating grease that keeps it turning smoothly, it will start to make a grinding noise whenever you're driving. The noise is caused by the bearing scraping against either the axle or the wheel while it's rotating. The noise may change in pitch or become louder while you're turning, since turning redistributes the weight of your car and can result in more weight being placed on your damaged wheel bearing.

Your Steering Wheel Vibrates and Jerks

If you feel your steering wheel vibrate while you're driving, you may have a damaged wheel bearing. This is another result of the wheel bearing losing its lubrication and scraping against the axle or wheel. The wheel bearing can't rotate smoothly when it no longer has adequate lubrication, and this can result in your steering wheel vibrating or jerking around while you're driving your car.

Your Car Pulls to One Side While You're Driving

Finally, a damaged wheel bearing can make it more difficult to control your vehicle. If the wheel bearing isn't rotating smoothly, it means that it can't efficiently transmit power from the axle to the wheel. Your wheels may rotate at different speeds while you're driving, since your undamaged wheel bearings are functioning normally while your damaged one is struggling to rotate. This can result in your car pulling in one direction while you're trying to drive in a straight line.

If you suspect that you have a damaged wheel bearing in your car, have your car towed to an auto repair shop. Continuing to drive on a damaged wheel bearing is dangerous, since it's responsible for keeping your wheel turning smoothly. A wheel bearing that's lost too much lubrication may stop rotating altogether, resulting in your wheel locking up. You'll immediately lose control of your vehicle if this happens while you're driving. To be safe, have your car towed to an auto repair shop so your wheel bearings can be inspected.

Contact a towing service if you have additional questions or concerns.