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What Happens When Wheel Bearings Are Out of Adjustment?

Wheel bearings play a vital role in the steering and handling of vehicles allowing tires to rotate freely and safely on the roadways. When bearings are out of adjustment, negative consequences occur, including premature wear and tear on wheel components, steering issues and abnormal wear on tires. All of these problems make it important to monitor wheel bearings on a regular basis.

Premature Wear and Tear

When bearings are improperly lubricated or torqued into place, other vehicle components can begin to wear and tear prematurely due to friction and excessive loads. Unadjusted bearings can damage wheel hubs, spindles, and even braking units, creating all sorts of maintenance costs and safety issues. The damage caused by bearings may be subtle at first, which is why it’s critical that units are installed properly and regularly checked for adjustment issues.

Steering Issues and Swerving

If stepping on the brakes causes a vehicle to swerve to one side or another, it can be because the wheel bearings are out of adjustment. Wheel bearings can damage brake units and supporting structures, along with disrupting the free rotation of tires. These potential steering and handling issues are not only inconvenient, they’re also dangerous. If bearings are defective, or installed improperly and are left unadjusted, they can create a hazard for everyone on the road, especially in winter conditions when handling is key for safety.

Abnormal Wear on Tires

Improperly adjusted bearings can cause wheels to become loose, which in turn can cause tires to wear abnormally. This means that your tires will not exhibit normal wear patterns; instead, they’ll lose tread in specific areas, or on the interior or exterior rim, and need replacement sooner than normal. Left unrepaired, this type of wear can end up costing hundreds of dollars, not including the cost to adjust bearings to keep the tire wear from happening again.

Adjusting wheel bearings periodically is critical for keeping vehicles on the road. When bearings are out of adjustment, it opens up a world of negative possibilities that can cost you money and time, not to mention putting you in danger.