We greatly depend on our cars driving and turning the way we control them to. There is a significant safety factor to the car responding properly, and a lot of people don’t know which car component is responsible for it. Without it, it’s certain that no car would be safe to drive. On the topic of safety, I’ve already talked about replacing the brake pad in a timely manner. The part that I’m going to talk about now is called a rear wheel hub bearing. It’s one of the most crucial parts of a car that isn’t talked about enough.
What is the Hub Assembly
The wheel hub assembly is one of the most important parts of the car because it connects the wheel to the car itself. The entire wheel hub is a pre-assembled unit that contains precision bearings, seals, and sensors, and it’s also called a wheel hub bearing, with both front and rear segments. The rear wheel hub bearing regulate the steering and greatly contribute to the safety and handling of your vehicle as it’s closely connected to the braking system. It also enables the wheel to rotate smoothly and efficiently, which is why it’s imperative that it’s replaced when it stops responding properly, otherwise, you and your vehicle will be at risk.
Where is it Located
The wheel hub assembly is located on each wheel between the drive axle and the discs or brake drums. On the side of the brake, the wheel is attached to the wheel hub assembly’s bolts, while on the side of the axle, it’s mounted to the steering knuckle in one of two ways: it can be bolted on, or it can be a press-in assembly. The wheel hub assembly isn’t visible from the outside, because to see it, you’re going to have to first remove the wheel, and then remove the brake calliper and brake rotor. On cars manufactured since 1998, each wheel has its own wheel assembly, which can be individually replaced when it gets worn down. However, cars manufactured before 1998 typically have wheel assemblies on the front wheels and a rear wheel bearing on each rear wheel. The main difference is that the bearings can be serviced, while assemblies need to be replaced.
What Does it Do
The most important thing that a wheel hub assembly does is keep the wheel firmly attached to the car in order to allow the wheel to safely turn and steer. Because of the focus on safety, it’s an integral aspect to the anti-lock braking system, or ABS for short, and the traction control system, or TCS. That’s because the hub assembly has a sensor that controls the vehicle’s ABS, as it relays to the system how fast each wheel is turning. When you’re in a hard-braking situation, the system uses the information provided by the assembly in order to decide whether or not ABS is needed.
How Long Do Wheel Bearings Last
There are a few factors that determine how long wheel bearings last, even though there is a general rule. The rule of thumb is that it lasts anywhere between 136,000 and 160,000 kilometres, but that’s not a hard and fast rule to abide by. That’s because it always comes down to your driving style and where you drive your vehicle, which are typically the most important factors to consider before replacing them. However, the overall quality of the wheel bearings is also very important because cheaper ones might show faults after only 10,000 kilometres, while bearings of higher quality could potentially last up until 200,000 kilometres.
Reasons for Failure
There are quite a few reasons for failure which you should always have in mind:
- Faulty Installation – using the wrong tools or using them inappropriately can be an enormous reason to have a faulty installation. That can also cause exterior damage which can further damage your vehicle. Also, using the old nuts, bolts, seals, and other accessories can greatly increase the rate at which the entire unit degrades, which significantly increases the risk of accidents.
- Poor Road Quality – this one is typically tied to direct impacts because roads with poor quality often cause the vehicle to bump and directly damage the unit.
- Low-Quality Materials – if the wheel bearings are of low quality, they can be very detrimental to the whole unit. That’s because the wheel hub and bearings are always under a lot of stress, and if the materials used are of low quality, it can significantly impact the unit’s lifespan.
- Driving Conditions – if you’re constantly driving through things like mud, water, and other contaminants then chances are you’re going to damage the bearings. They can get past the seals and enter the bearings, which can cause pollution to the grease and wear away the bearings.
- Unnecessary Car Modifications – if you install modifications such as bigger or wider rims, lower thread wall tyres, stiff shock absorbers, then you run the risk of decreasing the lifespan of the bearings. Consider sticking the stock parts that follow the manufacturer guidelines.
If you notice any issues with your wheel hub assembly and bearings, then definitely consider servicing your vehicle as soon as possible. It’s much better to have a repair cost than having to deal with the risk of an accident. Both the assembly and the bearing play such a crucial role in the safety and performance of the vehicle that you shouldn’t neglect them ever.