No matter what type of vehicle you own, a bad wheel bearing means bad news. When a bearing goes bad on a 4WD though, you’re looking at a problem that could bring a barrage of unintended consequences along with it.
By adding a lift kit, and larger and heavier tyres to your 4WD without considering your wheel bearing loads, your OE bearing assemblies are being subjected to a host of stresses that they weren’t designed to withstand. All that’s needed for one of these overburdened bearings to seize up is a few hard jolts, and when it does, not only could it mean replacing an array of brake and steering components, but it can also lead to a catastrophic hub failure that’ll leave your 4WD with only 3 wheels attached.
Ideally, anytime you alter your 4WD suspension, you need to think about your bearing assemblies. And if you’re currently riding on your OE assemblies with a lift kit and larger tyres, you need to make changing them a priority.
Protect Your 4WD with High Precision Wheel Bearings
For most people, it isn’t until they’ve swapped their OE bearings for a set of heavy-duty, high-precision wheel bearings that they realize just how prone to damage these seemingly indestructible bearings really are. All the energy and pounding that’s transferred to the wheels from the powertrain and through the suspension has to travel through the bearings; and this is especially critical for off-road applications where even short periods of extreme resistance or friction can cause them to overheat, seize up, and instantly fail.
Heavy-duty 4WD wheel bearings, however, are designed to handle Australia’s unique brand of rigorous on and off-road driving, and you can buy them in both front and rear sets to fit Oz’s toughest core of 4WDs, including:
· Toyota J40, 60, 80, and 105 family Landcruisers;
· Toyota HDJ and VDJ family Landcruisers;
· Toyota Hiluxes and 4Runners;
· Nissan GQ, GU, and MQ family Patrols; and,
· Nissan D22 Navaras.
The fact is, anything from noticeably uneven tire wear to a persistent hub oil leak can indicate that you’re inching toward a possible wheel bearing failure. It’s a situation that you want to protect yourself from, and a complete set of new 4×4 wheel bearings can help you do that.
High Quality Parts Make These Kits the Best on the Market
High-quality wheel bearing kits contain everything that’s needed to completely replace and reseal the bearing sets on your 4WD. And while each vehicle’s unique hub and transaxle design ultimately determines what every kit contains, as a minimum, you can expect each kit to include the following:
· A complete inner and outer race and bearing set;
· A premium axle seal to keep out contaminates; and,
· A new hub seal and gasket.
These are per-wheel parts complements, and make no mistake: the bearings in prime 4×4 wheel bearing replacement kits are hardened and heat treated to double their lifespan for use even in the toughest environments. Nothing less will suffice, especially if you’ve already outfitted your 4×4 with heavy-duty accessories like lift kits, wheels and tyres, and shocks and springs. It’s only a matter of time before your OE wheel bearings fail from fatigue, and deciding early to replace them with the toughest wheel bearings Australia has to offer is the best way to make sure everything continues to operate smoothly.
The Indicators That You Need to Change Your Wheel Bearings
Even if you’ve never experienced a 4WD wheel bearing failure in the past, the warning signs that you’re on the verge of having one are unmistakable when you’re driving:
· A loud droning, or rumbling noise coming from the offending wheel;
· Creaking or clicking noises coming from the same wheel; and,
· Extreme steering wheel vibration, including heavy pulling to one side.
What’s important to remember is that while any combination of these symptoms can occur for any length of time, there’s simply no way to tell just how long you have between a car wheel bearing going bad, and complete bearing failure. The symptoms can persist from a couple of days to a couple of weeks before the inevitable occurs, which is why you need to address the problem as soon as possible. And when you do, you also want to be sure that a failing bearing hasn’t also precipitated any other problems.
If You’re Changing Bearings you Need to Inspect Your Spindles
If you’ve already waited too long to replace a wheel bearing that you suspect has been going bad for a while, a replacement wheel bearing kit may not be the only item going on your shopping list. If the bearing has been totally starved of lubrication, has ingested debris, is corroded, or has been exposed to any conditions that would cause it to heat up excessively, there’s an excellent chance that you’ll also need to replace your axle spindles.
Wheel bearings are set inside the spindle; and if the bearing’s wear is uncommonly rapid, excessive, or its shell becomes dislodged (spins) within the spindle itself, damage to the spindle can be severe, including:
· Bluing and scorching due to heat;
· Corrosion and pitting; and,
· Galling and deep gouging.
Again, anything from fatigue to old age can cause a wheel hub bearing to go bad; and if you can see any of these symptoms on the spindle, replacing it is unavoidable. Fortunately, though, you can expect to find the same high-quality spindles where you buy wheel bearings, ensuring that your beefed-up reliability is compatible across the entire hub / bearing assembly.
The Final Word
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that your wheel bearings are unlike any other bearing on your vehicle. With millimetre tolerances, they’re designed to support the full weight and pounding that your 4WD receives under a very specific range of parameters, and their failure becomes all but inevitable when that range is exceeded. That’s why if you’ve altered your suspension in any way, it’s imperative that you change your bearings too.
Bigger and heavy tyres, and a maximum amount of lift mean that heavy duty, high precision wheel bearings are what you need to keep your 4WD going. They’ll give you the peace of mind to tackle any track you come across, and the assurance of knowing that they can take it in stride.