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What is a Wheel Bearing?

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The wheel bearing is a rolling-element bearing made of hardened steel which is mounted on the wheel hub. The bearing can either be placed on the back of or inside the hub itself. The wheel bearing primarily serves to stabilize the vehicle while driving and to absorb friction from the wheel's rotational movement. The drive shaft is mounted inside the bearing, and when it rotates, the wheel bearing helps to drive the wheel in a stable, controlled way.

The stabilization is possible because the ring has an inner race connected to the wheel hub, in which a number of smaller metal balls run in a loose groove. The bearing balls follow the rotational movements of the wheel to absorb the friction and load of the movement, and they therefore help to make your driving comfortable.

Some wheel bearings have an integrated ABS sensor which informs the car's computer when you are braking hard and subsequently prevents the brakes from locking.

What does a defective wheel bearing noise sound like?

There is no doubt when there is something wrong with the wheel bearing and you might have a wheel bearing failure. The following symptoms might indicate that it’s time for a replacement:

  • You will hear a wheel bearing noise that can best be described as resounding, or as a hollow noise. It rises with the speed of the car, which means the sound increases with the car’s speed. It is not a clanking sound, but a constant noise from the wheels.
  • You may have defective wheel bearings on either the front or rear wheels. When it comes to the front wheel bearing, you will experience a loud noise from the front wheel when you turn. If it’s the front wheel bearing on the left side that is defective, you will hear the sound most clearly when you turn right.
  • A defective wheel bearing can be dangerous. If you have been driving with a defective wheel bearing for a long time, vibrations or light shaking may occur while driving. If you experience this, you should drive to a garage immediately!

How long does a wheel bearing last?

There is a very big difference in how long a wheel bearing lasts, depending on the car. In particular, it depends on how far your car has driven, and not necessarily its age. However, it will be odd if your car's wheel bearings have to be changed when your car is under 6 years old.

You should also be aware that in some cars - especially the French brands - the wheel bearing is part of the brake disc itself. Here, you never change the wheel bearing separately, but only when changing the brake disc and pads.

How to change wheel bearing?

If you decide to drive to the garage because you suspect a defective wheel bearing, the mechanic will use a special tool to dismount the bearing. On older cars, you can simply pull the wheel bearing out of the hub, without having to remove other parts of the wheel.

But most often you have to disassemble all parts of the wheel, starting with the rim, then the brake caliper and the brake discs, and finally the wheel suspension. The wheel hub is mounted on the suspension, and from here, the mechanic needs a wheel bearing press to dismantle the bearing itself from the hub.

Many also ask what the wheel bearing replacement cost in the UK is, or perhaps “How much is a wheel bearing?”. You should expect it to take between two and three hours to change a wheel bearing, depending on whether the wheel bearing is part of the wheel hub or the brake disc.

In addition, you must calculate the wheel bearing cost itself. The spare part costs between £75 and £180.

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Prices on power steering system repair and replacement of power steering components

The average prices and savings for the car brands shown are based on different models and years. You must therefore create a job and compare quotes to see your actual price and savings.
Make Compare and save* You save on average* Ratings
Audi £81 30%
5.0 (1)
BMW £71 22%
5.0 (1)
Citroën £88 26%
5.0 (3)
Ford £69 27%
5.0 (4)
Mercedes-Benz £76 25%
4.7 (3)
Nissan £74 28%
5.0 (1)
Peugeot £78 31%
5.0 (1)
Renault £85 31%
5.0 (2)
Vauxhall £58 25%
4.8 (6)
Volkswagen £53 27%

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