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Wheel bearings enable wheels on a car to spin freely and stay secured to the car. Cars have four wheel bearings, one located at each wheel. If the wheel bearings wear out, you will feel the wheels and steering wheel shake. Do not drive the car in this condition and have it checked out as soon as possible by a professional mechanic.
There are two kinds of wheel bearing designs: 1) the bearings can be serviced by taking them apart, cleaning them, and re-packing them with fresh grease, or 2) the wheel bearing is of a “sealed” design that requires no service other than replacement when found to be defective.
On most cars manufactured before 1997, there are two wheel bearings per front tire (1 inner and 1 outer). Most car manufacturers recommend wheel bearing cleaning, re-packing with grease, and having them inspected every 30,000 miles. This is normally done with a brake service. Most cars manufactured after 1998 come with one wheel bearing in each tire, called a hub and bearing assembly. This is a sealed unit and cannot be serviced. When the wheel bearings go bad, they are simply removed and replaced with new ones.
Wheel bearings allow the wheels to spin freely and at the desired speed. They’re also responsible for keeping the wheels attached to the vehicle. As the bearings begin to wear out or become damaged, they impact the wheels ability to spin smoothly, freely, and securely. When this happens your vehicle will become shaky, and your wheels will not be secure.