Q: How do I know when my wheel bearings are going out?

asked by on November 16, 2016

How do I know if front wheel bearings are going out and are they difficult to change? Also, I have had someone change the water pump & replace the belts a couple years back and whenever cold weather hits, it makes chirping noises, what could cause this?

My car has 199000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Your accessory and serpentine belts may squeak or chirp a bit in cold weather due to the fact that the belts become brittle and less pliable during the cold weather months. When they go from a cold stand still to instantly turning a very fast pace when you start the motor before having a chance to warm up, this is what causes the chirping sound. Some belt dressing and/or tightening up the belts a bit will usually correct this.

A wheel bearing will usually fail due to pitting or small damage on the surface of the rollers or the bearing race. Both the surface of the rollers and the race is precision machined to tight tolerances and highly polished to allow the rollers to pass easily over the race with the addition of bearing grease for lubrication and cooling. Over time the bearing will wear slightly, allowing microscopic pieces of metal into the grease.

Bearing noise can sound a lot like a brake pad dragging or grinding. It can also sound like whirring, whining or humming depending on how much sound deadening material your vehicle has in it. Bearing noise will always be dependent on vehicle speed meaning as you speed up or slow down the noise should change frequency or loudness. Cornering may affect the noise from a damaged front wheel bearing and is usually more pronounced as you make turns. I would suggest having a professional from Your Mechanic come to your home to take a look at the car and check your wheel bearings for failure.

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