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Types of Wheel Bearings and Replacement Tips

Here we will explain to you the types of wheel bearings and the 10 best replacement tips. Since the wheel bearings may be hidden by many other components, most mechanically-minded drivers and owners consider them insignificant until they start to notice the rumbling sound.

wheel-bearings-types

Wheel Bearing Has Complex Components

Most vehicle owners do not know if the wheel bearing components are very complex. We will look at the various types and reveal the right fitting technique that is extremely important for durability and safety.

While it is evident that it allows the road wheels to turn smoothly, jammed bearings can result in wheel locks or possible detach. In certain situations, the critical wheel bearing safety mechanisms are improved in combination with anti-lock and stability control systems.

Production and development of wheel bearings will not stop, like almost all other auto parts. This complicates the repair process in most situations to the extent that you need special skills and equipment before attempting to fix it.

The Types of Bearings Will Determine the Proper Installation Procedure

As you think the wheel bearings perform the same simple functions, they play a different role and are increasingly sophisticated. Therefore, the replacement procedure is very dependent on the type of bearing you have.

Although wheel bearings must last the life of the car, neglect causes premature wear for even the best quality components. Sinking in floods, hitting pavements, or occasionally driving over terrible road surfaces at full speed can minimize bearing life. 

Some modifications, such as a lower wheel profile, installing a firmer suspension, or even the use of road tires with different dimensions than are commonly used, can put extra stress on the wheel bearings.

Misleading bearing installation methods are also a problem, so qualified mechanics suggest that brute force or the use of giant hammers will not become standard replacement practice for wheel bearings.

There may not be an immediate effect of this technique. However, if you are lucky enough, the damage it implies will result in premature failure of the bearings or smooth interiors that provide information about the speed of the car.

Wheel Bearing Types Based On Generations

The specifications of wheel bearings have changed a lot. Its higher tolerance to forces, its position in reducing rolling resistance, its ease of maintenance, and its better installation, do not make each wheel bearings the same. 

You can also find one or more of them in standard modern vehicles from various eras. Deviation in wheel bearing configuration affects the replacement process. Some of them are basic designs, set particular types of equipment, and installation.

If you have to choose to replace wheel bearings, determine the bearing type, and analyze the task according to your abilities. Also note that if you get stuck in the middle of work, you can't take your car to the repair shop. 

Increase your knowledge of the tools and make sure to get them the first time you start working. If you are unsure, assigning the job to a skilled technician can be more cost-effective. 

However, the definitions below provide an overview of the different types of wheel bearings.

Bearings Generation 0

The conventional single tapered roller bearing structure within each hub is arranged in pairs and looks distinctive on undriven wheels. They are quite popular in classic cars.

Before removing the bearings, races, including the oil seal, you must remove them then disassemble the hub. Hub also must be clean and repackaged with a multipurpose grease but not excessive afterward.

The need for special equipment is less likely, but the wheel hub is very easily damaged when external bearing races are pressed out. You also have to be careful about the pre-load / end-float bearings that are controlled by the center nut location. 

Extreme tightening will cause significant damage to the bearings and excessive heat afterward. Under-tight triggers improper end-float, which can be identified by a knock from the side impacted.

Mainly if you really are inexperienced with classic cars, it can fail as they are in fine condition due to intense wheel bearing play.

Bearings Generation 1

In a sealed, pre-lubricated, and pre-set assembly, the first-gen bearings incorporate the double-row bearing type, seals, and races. It just can not be disassembled, and the initial load can not be adjusted, unlike with the tapered roller bearing configuration. 

Multi-pole velocity sensor encoders can be integrated into the assembly according to the car's requirements.  You press this bearing configuration as a group into it's bearing housing, which is positioned on the vertical link of the steering knuckle or suspension.

single-tapered-roller-bearing

The tire hub is placed into the inner ring using a bearing flange. Some models use snap rings that perform with grooves, which are fabricated into the mount, and somehow this needs the help of a specific clamping tool. Be careful when doing this so as not to damage the bearings or even damage the oil seal.

Press the outer race as the bearings are pressed into the seats.

However, when pressing the mounting flange of the road wheel into the installed bearing, apply pressure to the reverse side of the inner race.

If a speed encoder exists, ensure the bearings are located in the proper direction. If the bearings are sealed with a circle, make sure that the opening is towards the floor. So that water flows out of the housing.

Bearings Generation 2

The most noticeable difference between the 1st and 2nd generations is the flanges, where the roadwheel bolts are located, are supplied with the bearings.

2nd generation bearings appear to be among the most common component for road-mounted autos and one of the simple and easy to fit. However, as long as it follows the appropriate techniques and also uses the right tools.

bearing-flange

If not, repairs will be quite challenging because there is a chance of pressure damaging the bearings.

The removal of the existing assembly is likely to lead in the inner bearing race retaining its position on the stub axle, needing more work with the suitable puller.

wheel-bearing-2nd-generation

It could impact even the flanges or hubs of some Gen One bearings. The replacement of second-gen pieces can also be pre-assembled as well as sealed. However, the manufacturer doesn't always configure the float-ends in the manufacturing plant.

To avoid any internal damage, the rollers have to be mounted to the suspension stub, along with flanges. If installed, the initial load is set by tightening the center bolt or nut to the particular torque.

Such bearings would also provide a mechanical gear ring that serves as a reference for a car wheel speed sensor or as an option to an inner encoder in the setup.

Improper use of tools to remove old pieces can cause damage to the stub axle. Hammering the bearing assembly further into the tapered mount is a sure way to reduce its service life.

Bearings Generation 2D

Because of its capacity to carry numerous loads, the 2D gen roller bearings are being used rather than the ball bearings of Generation 2. In comparison to the simple second-gen wheel bearing models, the road wheel does not mount to the 2D flanges. Alternatively, the steering knuckle is protected with a bolt or nut.

wheel-bearing-2D-generation

The flange of a road wheel is pressed from the old bearing into the new one. Before the mounting is returned to the vehicle. Of course, hammering bearings and hubs can break almost any part.

Another problem is that even the weight of the car cannot be helped by the hub until the center bolt is tightened to its determined torque value.

Bearings Generation 2.1

Instead of using a circlip to keep the bearing position, bearing model 2.1 has used a snap ring. Some gen 1 bearings also have it. Specialized tools are essential for a successful installation of both contexts.

wheel-bearing-2.1-generation

When the old bearing is removed from the steering knuckle bearing seat using a tow, it is crucial to use a special clamp on the replacement before pressing the new one.

The clamp guarantee that every force is applied just on the outer bearing races and not with the bearing rollers. It also keeps the snap ring in place until it fits into its groove. Hence the hub nut torque will not impact pre-load bearing in this configuration.

Bearings Generation 3

Unlike the bearing designs of the 2nd gen, the wheel bearings of 3rd generation have a pair of flanges, rather than one.

wheel-bearing-generation-3

They are also much simpler to install, as they can be quickly unbolted, disassembled, and reconstructed as a single assembly. But then the concepts are easy to overlook.

Both nuts and bolts must be removed and drilled according to the proper specifications, including the center nut/bolt. While it may seem trivial, we need to use specific additional components that complement the new bearings. Overall, do not use power tools on any binders, such as wrenches.

Bearings Generation 3.2

The most up-to-date wheel bearing developments are installed on several of the latest models, related to academic work.

Seeing how bearing design changes, it is interesting to note.

Since the 3.2 generation has dual flanges, the new technology is helping automakers meet their goals for emissions and fuel efficiency and a weight reduction of about 10%.

The modern system removes the existing driveshaft spines. The drive shaft must move through the bearings on the driven wheel by a face-spline fitted on the back surface of the bearings.

The spline face enables a further 50% torque through a redesigned driveshaft to be provided to the road wheels. Enhanced driving dynamics are possible, as additional benefits are reduced unsprung weight and easier installation.

10 Important Wheel Bearings Replacement Tips You Need To Know

  1. Before starting work, review the technical specifications and installation instructions for the car's wheel bearing.
  2. You should understand how it operates whenever you need to purchase or rent some special equipment.
  3. Only if you want to mount them, remove the bearings from the package.
  4. Follow the instructions for your bearing and tool kit carefully.
  5. Be aware that the magnetic encoder inside the bearing can be damaged if accidentally dropped, subjected to magnets, or laid-down on the encoder side.
  6. The bearings you accidentally dropped need to be replaced.
  7. Using all the accessories that the wheel bearing kit provides
  8. Change the steering knuckle immediately whenever you see a deep mark, potential deformation, or some abnormality that might cause the bearing to move in its seat.
  9. Never use extreme force through a fitting, such as hammering a flange.
  10. Before the fixing center is secured and fastened if relevant, do not fit the road wheels, move the vehicle, or lower it to the ground.
Ryan Daniel
Ryan Daniel Ryan Daniel is a car enthusiast. Since owning his first BMW at a young age, he has loved the automotive world even more.