We had a customer call in with a question last week and thought we would share it.
I remember my dad having the shop “pack the bearings” on the family car. Is this something I need to have done?
Tony's Brake and Alignment Answer:
That's a really good question. At one time, all wheel bearings were “serviceable” and needed to be taken care of from time to time. It's a little trickier these days.
First off, the wheel bearings in your vehicle make sure your wheels rotate smoothly. As you can imagine, with all those revolutions per minute your wheels can generate a lot of heat. The bearings keep that heat down as much as possible. They're packed in grease for lubrication. The term “packing the bearings” refers to putting fresh grease around the bearings.
On many modern vehicles, the wheel bearing assembly is sealed. These wheel bearings are not serviceable so there is no maintenance that can be performed on them. When the bearings wear, the entire assembly is replaced. Your friendly and knowledgeable Tony's Brake and Alignment technician can perform a check of your bearings to make sure they are still functioning safely, and he can also tell you if your bearings need service. If you hear strange noises from your wheels – which may come and go at different speeds – it's time to have your friendly and knowledgeable technician inspect them.
Wheel bearings on trailers are almost always serviceable. This means anything from a monster sized fifth-wheel camper to a little utility trailer. Boat trailers are especially susceptible because the hot wheel bearings are plunged into cold water when launching a boat into the lake. This temperature difference can draw water into the bearings. Have the bearings repacked at the end of the season to prevent corrosion.
It would be a good idea for trailer owners to have maintenance service on their trailer wheels every year or so – it's kind of hard to hear when they are groaning.
Now, when wheel bearings fail, the wheel can seize up and even break off. Of course no driver wants that to happen, so follow a regular inspection schedule – your friendly and knowledgeable Tony's Brake and Alignment service advisor can help.
Give us a call.
Tony's Brake and Alignment. Louisville's Best Auto Repair.