Wheel bearings are some of the most important parts of your vehicle’s suspension. They allow the wheels to rotate smoothly and freely, helping to give you a comfortable ride. A bearing is made up of a lot of little balls that are set between two pieces of metal. The action of the balls moving between the metal is what helps your vehicle move smoothly.
Wheel bearings are so critical to your vehicle’s suspension that they should be checked by a mechanic every 25,000 miles or so. Even more importantly, if you think the bearings in your vehicle are going bad, they need to be replaced immediately. Bad and damaged bearings are dangerous and can contribute to a driver losing control of his or her vehicle. If you think your bearings are bad, it’s best to not drive the vehicle until a mechanic can check it over and make any needed repairs.
Most wheel bearing problems are caused by regular wear and tear. Bearings are protected from dust by various seals, but if any of the seals wear out, debris and dust can enter, causing them to wear down faster. When a wheel bearing is failing, it lets you know through a couple of possible symptoms. The first and most probable symptom is a metallic rubbing sound that increases in tempo as the car moves faster. Additionally, bad bearings can cause the vehicle to steer a bit sluggishly. The suspension will also not feel as smooth as it did previously.
The wheel bearing replacement cost will depend on the make, model and type of vehicle you are driving. The bearing parts can cost anywhere from $50 to $300, depending on what particular parts of the bearing need replacing. The labor costs associated with replacing a wheel bearing will depend on the mechanic you choose, and his hourly rates. Labor can run anywhere from $50 – $150 per hour. The replacement procedure is not all that tricky, but it can be a bit time consuming.
When a wheel bearing is replaced, the car is lifted up, either with a jack or using the lifts commonly found in mechanic shops. The tire is removed, followed by the brake and the hub. After removing those three things, the mechanic can access the bearing and begin the replacement. After the bearing is removed and a new one installed, the mechanic puts the wheel back together, reinstalling the various pieces removed in reverse order. Doing the replacement should take around an hour to an hour and a half if the mechanic isn’t slowed down by any problems. If the mechanic is slowed down because of rust in the wheel area, for example, the time to complete the repair will be a bit longer.
A wheel bearing replacement can actually be done by a do-it-yourselfer if he/she has the time, space and confidence to do the project. In most cases it may not be worth the savings on labor since most of the cost of the replacement are normally in the part itself. If the job can be done in about an hour by an experienced mechanic who doesn’t charge too much, it may not make a lot of sense to try to do it yourself.