Does your truck make irritating screechy sounds whenever you make a turn around a curve? Or does it feel “wiggly”? Chances are your wheel bearings aren’t in good condition.
Bearings keep the wheels from wearing out due to friction. These parts facilitate smooth rotation and keep the wheels from decelerating due to the weight of loads pressing down from above, or due to turning around a tight curve.
Cause and Effect. Good trailer wheel bearings accept all force exerted on the wheels. A sharp impact or disproportionately heavy load, however, can strain and create pits on the bearing balls. Friction, as a result of bearings rolling on damaged surfaces, results into wearing. While symptoms may show quickly, on most occasions it takes months before such damage is noticed. A KnowYourParts.com article explained this further:
Most wheel bearings should last up to 150,000 miles or more. So many do-it-yourselfers (and technicians) think there’s no need to pay any attention to the wheel bearings when doing a brake job. Wrong! Though the bearings do not require any maintenance, they should be inspected to make sure they are capable of doing their job safely.
A bad wheel bearing may not always make itself known by chirping, squealing or making noise. Many do make it obvious that they have reached the end of the road, but others just roll silently along until they suddenly fail.
A wheel bearing failure can have serious consequences if it occurs while driving at highway speeds and the vehicle loses a wheel. That’s why the wheel bearings should always be inspected for looseness or roughness when the brakes are serviced.
Basic Checking. It’s hard to detect damage through noise alone. Experts suggest that you check for signs by pushing on the top part of the wheel and observing for evidence of slack. Also, while driving, if the trailer swings from side to side, it’s better to pull over and check for tightness.
Inspect the wheel bearings and other parts for damage regularly. If you see any signs, take your vehicle to your trusted automotive technicians for inspection and necessary repairs or replacements. It is also advisable to keep in reserve trailer bearing kits that include bearings, races, and seals which you can purchase on discount from a reputable trailer parts store like Champion Trailers.
A damaged wheel bearing does not only cause a vehicle to be shaky and noisy; it can also cost you more money by damaging other nearby parts, and even force your entire wheel to fly off when driving at high speed. So if you’re thinking of saving in the long term, pay close attention to your bearings.
(Source: The Basic of Breaks and Bearings, KnowYourParts.com)