The small bearings play a crucial role in the spinning of your vehicle's wheels. Bearings contain rollers inside, which spin in the cage. These spinning rollers bear the weight of the vehicle on the axles. Bearings do not just take the load of the vehicle when it is still, but also while it is moving, cornering, braking, and most importantly, when it drives over potholes and ditches.
Apart from heavy-duty usage, ignorance, improper servicing, and poor maintenance can lead to wheel bearing failure. So what are the indications that your wheel bearing has given way?
Noise is the first thing that will alert you about a wheel bearing that is failing. Most prominently, a knocking noise, and on some occasions, a squeaky squealing moan is what would be the first indicator of such a problem. Initially, the sound would be heard only at certain speeds, but will become fairly regular and prominent as the condition of the bearings worsen. Other indicators include mild vibrations and oil leakage from the axle.
To check for a possible wheel bearing failure, just jack up the car off the ground, hold the wheel tight from the top and bottom, and try moving it sideways. If there's no movement or negligible movement, everything is fine. Else, it is time for a replacement.
Timely maintenance of the wheel bearing, along with other parts of the vehicle, is the key to safe driving. Proper greasing also plays an important role in the scheme of things. It minimizes friction in the functioning of the wheel bearing, which is absolutely vital. The difference between a bearing working in good condition for a long time and one that is failing prematurely is quality high-temperature grease used for wheel bearings. As you apply the brakes, the vehicle inertia is converted into heat, and the vehicle slows down making the surrounding area extremely hot. If a low-temperature grease is used, it would liquefy and slip-up the brakes. More importantly, if you have used a certain grease before and it is good, stick to it.
Replacing the wheel bearings by yourself isn't a tough task if you have the know-how of how vehicles are built and how they work. If you are a complete novice, getting it done by a professional is best advised.