Most car drivers assume that parts such as the engine, the transmission, and other larger components are the most important.
However, smaller parts such as wheel hubs are critical because your car can’t move forward without them. But what exactly are wheel hubs? Here’s all you need to know.
What Are Wheel Hubs?
Wheel hubs are located at the center of the wheel, specifically between the brake drums and the drive axle. They are found on each wheel, and their role is to connect your wheel to the rest of the vehicle. Wheel hubs are the mounting assembly that includes the bearings, sensors, seals, and the wheel hub unit.
Read on for more information about wheel hubs, how they function, the different types available, their importance, and how to identify damaged wheel hubs!
What Do Wheel Hubs Do?
Car drivers raise a lot of questions about wheel hubs and bearings because the two are usually interconnected and function together.
Wheel hubs are the larger part that holds together the bearings, sensors, seals, and the entire unit and connect the wheel to the rest of the car. Without the wheel hub assembly, the car can’t move from one place to the next.
Also known as the wheel hub bearing, wheel hub unit, or hub assembly hub, it’s a critical part of the steering system because it contributes to the safe handling and steering of the vehicle.
As the axle and bearing mechanism, the wheel hub enables your vehicle to turn freely and makes handling much easier.
To perform their role effectively, wheel hubs are located at the center of the vehicle’s wheel, enabling the rest of the components to function correctly.
You’ll find them on each wheel between the drive axle and brake drums. While on the drive axle side, the hub assembly is attached to the steering knuckle, on the side of the brake, the wheel is mounted to the bolts of the wheel hub assembly.
Your car needs to have a properly functioning wheel hub for it to roll smoothly; otherwise, you’ll just encounter problems when driving.
Apart from enabling your wheels to steer, wheel hubs are vital for your traction control system (TCS) and anti-lock braking system (ABS). This is because the hub unit contains wheel speed sensors that control the ABS braking system.
These sensors communicate with the ABS on how fast each wheel turns to determine whether anti-lock braking is required.
Your TSC and ABS systems work together to control your car; therefore, if the sensors in the wheel hub fail, it can compromise your vehicle’s performance and safety.
How Long Do Wheel Hubs Last?
Like other automotive components, wheel hubs last according to their use, quality, and driving conditions.
Wheel hub assemblies are meant to last for up to 100,000 miles; however, some of them don’t hit this milestone due to different factors that compromise their functionality.
If you mostly drive your car or rough roads, potholes, or over speed bumps, they are more likely to be worn out and get damaged than those driven on smooth highway roads.
As soon as you notice that your wheel hubs are damaged or worn out, you need to take your car to the mechanic for repairs to avoid getting into road accidents.
According to some drivers, they replaced their wheel hubs after 150,000 to 160,000 miles. This shows that the hubs can go much further if they are properly taken care of.
When Should You Replace The Wheel Hubs?
Similar to other car components, wheel hubs should be replaced as soon as you notice signs of damage.
You can replace both of them if they have covered the same mileage during replacement because the damage might be the same. Even though this might be expensive, it’s better than waiting for the damage to worsen.
Your wheel hubs will be worn out depending on how you use them; therefore, it’s better to take care of them and replace them as soon as you notice a problem.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Bad Wheel Hub?
A failing wheel hub can be detected by looking for some signs and how your car behaves in different situations. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Tires are generally quieter these days, thanks to noise reduction technologies; therefore, if you notice that your drives are becoming noisier, you should check your wheel hub.
Some of the most common noises can be humming, growling, crackling, grinding, snapping, or strange rumbling. All these are signs that there could be something wrong with your hub unit.
As we’ve established, the ABS functionality is interconnected with the wheel hub because the hub assembly holds the sensors.
Once the ABS sensors are damaged, your ABS light will light up on the dashboard to indicate a problem.
Uneven Tire Wear
While there are many causes of uneven tire wear, failing wheel hubs could be one of them. When your wheel hubs are not performing well, your tires will also be affected because they are not rolling smoothly, leading to tread wear.
Loose Steering Wheel
You need a stable steering wheel for your car to move. When the hub is damaged, it can also affect the bearings, and your steering wheel will start feeling loose.
Abnormal Pull To The Side
If your car is drifting to one side more than the other, you need to have the wheel hubs checked. Although this issue could result from other problems, it’s good to rule out the hubs.
Uneven Brake Pad Wear
Just like tires, brake pads also get affected significantly when the wheel hubs have worn out. It would be best if you had that checked immediately it starts happening.
What Causes Wheel Hub Failure?
Your wheel hubs will malfunction if you drive on rough roads with many potholes and curbs that physically damage the tire.
When your wheels get contaminated with moisture and dirt, it leads to corrosion, damaging the hub unit.
Additionally, if your wheels were not aligned and balanced properly, you are more likely to experience this malfunction.
Therefore, you should ensure that your tires are serviced by qualified professionals.
Can You Drive With Damaged Wheel Hubs?
Driving with a damaged wheel hub assembly is actually dangerous because the parts on the unit, such as bearings, could come off when driving and cause the wheel to come off.
Additionally, it affects how the wheel turns, and your vehicle becomes shaky when the wheels are not secure.
Once the wheel hub assembly disintegrates, the tire parts will fracture, and the wheel will come off.
Therefore, take the vehicle to your mechanic for service and repairs if you notice the damage signs.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace Wheel Hubs?
Replacing wheel hubs will be cheap or expensive depending on your car model, your source, and the brand you buy.
When replacing them, the cost of a wheel hub assembly can be as low as $60 up to hundreds of dollars. Additionally, the overall cost depends on whether you need to replace both hubs.
Furthermore, you need to factor in labor costs at the tire shop, which vary from place to place. Therefore, you need to consider all these factors before replacing them.
To find out more about wheels, you can also read our posts on what is a tire alignment, what is a tire deflator, and what is a tire rotation.
Wheel hubs are an essential part of the vehicle. Located at the center of the wheel, they are found on each wheel, and they connect your wheel to the rest of the vehicle.
As the mounting assembly, the wheel hub unit includes bearings, sensors, and seals. Without this unit, the wheel can’t run smoothly.
Wheel hubs are also prone to damage; therefore, you should have them checked as soon as you notice any problems.