Your wheel bearing allows your wheels to turn. The wheel bearing assembly consists of a set of steel balls that are contained together inside a metal ring. The metal ring is referred to as the hub. The hub is attached to a metal axle shaft, which helps to handle the wheel spinning friction.
As they help the wheel spin, wheel bearings have to put up with a lot of wear and tear and often have to eventually be replaced as you rack up the miles on your vehicle.
#1: Uneven Tire Wear
Your tires should wear evenly, especially if you rotate them. If you notice that your tires are not wearing evenly, one of the reasons why may be that you have a tire issue. That issue could be a bad wheel bearing, worn-out suspension, or a bad CV arm. If you notice your tires have an uneven wear pattern, you will want to get the tire system inspected to determine if the wheel bearing is wearing out or if there is another issue behind the uneven tire wear.
#2: Pulling to One Side
When you are driving, your vehicle should stay relatively straight. If you feel like your vehicle is pulling to one side, the wheel bearing may be worn out. This is not the only thing that can cause your vehicle to pull to one side; poor alignment can also cause your vehicle to pull to one side.
#3: Loose Feeling
When you are driving, you should feel that your vehicle is responsive to what you are doing. If you feel your vehicle is not responding to you as it should be and that your steering is not responsive, then you should have a mechanic at a local car repair shop look at your car. As the wheel bearing wears down, the wheel assembly can become loose, making your steering feel too loose when you are driving.
#4: Strange Sound
As your wheel bearing wears down, it will make a very distinct sound. You will hear a grating or grinding noise as you drive. The sound may be quieter as well, more like a cyclic squeal or chirping sound.
What makes the sound identifiable as a wheel bearing issue is the sound's intensity as your speed changes. With a bad wheel bearing, the sound's intensity will change as the speed of the vehicle changes. The sound will get worse over time if you don't address it.
If you notice that your steering feels loose, your car is pulling to one side, the tires are wearing out unevenly, or your vehicle is making a strange sound when you drive, you are going to want to get your vehicle inspected. These could be signs of a bad wheel bearing or signs that something else is wrong with the system that supports the wheels on your vehicle.