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How To Check Wheel Bearings

Brent Dunn
by Brent Dunn
November 30, 2014
1 min. Reading Time
check wheel bearings

check wheel bearings

If you've noticed that one of your wheels has started to make a humming or grinding noise that has been gradually getting louder, your vehicle might have a worn out wheel bearing. Even if you haven't noticed any issues with the way your car sounds or drives, it's still a good idea to periodically check the condition of your wheel bearings.

Normally the hub contains bearings that allow the wheel to spin smoothly and with little friction. If the bearings become severely worn or fail, there is the possibility that the entire wheel and hub could separate from the vehicle, resulting in loss of control and body damage. Knowing how to check wheel bearings when you switch your summer tires over for your winter tires could save you a costly accident.

# How To Check Wheel Bearings

To check a wheel bearing, the first step is to jack up the vehicle and support it on jack stands so that the tire is about three or four inches off the ground. Place one hand on top of the tire and the other on the bottom of the tire, and try and force the wheel in and out of the wheel well. If the bearing is in good condition there should be no play. If there is significant play in other directions, you may have a problem in the steering system or suspension of the car, but as long as there is no play with your hands in the 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock positions the bearings themselves pass this test.

Next, give the tire a spin with your hand. It should move fairly easily. If it is hard to turn, sticky, or makes a noise, it may be a damaged wheel bearing or a sticking brake. To isolate any noises or stickiness you can remove the wheel, and then remove the brake caliper, pads, and rotor. Give the hub a spin. If it still makes noise or seems to stick in spots, the problem is most likely with the bearing.

If you do diagnose a problem with the steering or suspension when checking wheel bearings, be sure to get the repair done as soon as possible as a failure in any part of these systems can result in a loss of control.



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