It is easy to underestimate ball bearings just by looking at their size and design. Unknown to most car owners, however, your car won’t move an inch without ball bearings. They are therefore extremely important. Made of high quality steel, they are designed to last at least 100,000 miles if properly cared for. They serve two main purposes. First, they make it easy for the wheel to rotate with little or no friction. Second, they hold and support the weight of the car. In other words, ball bearings will turn several thousand or even million revolutions while supporting at least 1000 pounds!
Maintaining The Bearings
Porsche ball bearings are easy to maintain. All you need to do is ensure they are always in a perfect condition. They are packed with heavy auto grease so as to protect and lubricate the moving metal parts. A flexible seal is designed to protect the bearings by keeping grease in and water and dirt out. Problems begin when your vehicle is overloaded or when the seal starts to leak. The grease then becomes contaminated which causes the bearings to overheat and eventually fail.
Signs Of Failure
The first sign that your bearings are about to fail is an unusual noise from the wheels. It could be growling, rumbling, chirping or a cycling sound. It may become louder each time you accelerate. It can then change or even disappear when turning. The best you can do at this point is to take your vehicle for inspection which ultimately means bearing replacement.
Note that most vehicles produced in the last ten years use ‘sealed for life’ wheel bearing assemblies. These are sealed units which cannot be serviced. The good news, however, is the fact that nearly all of them last for up to 100,000+ miles. The downside is that when they wear out, they have to be replaced which is a dirty, messy, time consuming job. Note too that most sealed hub assemblies are available, only that they are not cheap.
Many SUVs and even pickup trucks still use old wheel bearings at the vehicles rear. The bearings can and should always be serviced on schedule. Simply have them removed, cleaned and thoroughly inspected. If they are good, have them reinstalled. If not, have them replaced. They will then be packed in grease complete with a new grease seal. To ensure you do not replace the bearings every so often, service your car after every 30,000 miles.
Even the best seal in the market cannot keep out water that is exerting too much pressure on the seal. This means that if you have driven your Porsche through deep waters, your bearings should be cleaned and repacked. That is if they are serviceable. For factory sealed bearings, you have no choice but to look for signs for premature failure. This should not be a problem, as Porsche models will always alert you via dashboard lights if anything is wrong. You can also take the vehicle for diagnostics to find out if there is a pressing problem with the bearings.