What is the Difference Between Wheel Bearings and Hub Bearings?

Bearings are mechanical devices that assist an object’s rotation. Within the engines and wing assemblies of an aircraft, bearings are made to withstand both axial and centrifugal force during operation. Moreover, they are designed to handle large amounts of pressure and allow for other surfaces affixed to them to move with minimal friction and wear. Due to their versatility, there are numerous types, each varying in size, shape, and function. In this blog, we will be covering two types of bearings: wheel bearings and hub bearings. More than that, you will get a brief overview of their fundamental differences, their uses, and special features.

While they have similar physical characteristics, each housing contains bearing spheres that are lubricated for spinning, allowing the wheel to rotate. A major difference between these bearings is how they are assembled. Hub bearings are typically pre-packed and factory-assembled as a complete unit that cannot be taken apart for re-lubrication, therefore it must be replaced. Wheel bearings, on the other hand, can be taken apart, re-lubricated, and reassembled for an extended service life. Unfortunately, wheel bearings often fail due to wear, dirt & water contamination, or improper installation.
The most common implementation of wheel bearings can be found in cars. Located within the wheel hub that connects the wheel to the axle, each wheel has its own set of these bearings. There are two types of wheel bearings: ball and roller. The ball type consists of balls with small contact points sealed to keep contamination out and cannot be serviced. The roller type contains a series of small cylinders within a tapered circular housing. This type is not sealed which exposes the rolling elements to contamination, but makes them ideal for servicing.
Similarly, hub bearings are also found in cars and their installation relies heavily on the proper torque of the axle nut that holds this bearing together. Due to their compact design that cannot be repaired or re-lubricated, hub bearings are often replaced. The biggest indicator of a damaged hub bearing is noise. The noise often sounds like a snapping, grinding, knocking, or growling. While a vehicle can make a number of these noises, pinpointing the hub bearing as the source of the problem can be achieved by turning, accelerating, or decelerating the car.

While hub bearings and wheel bearings are different, they are both incredibly important to the proper functionality of a vehicle. As such, it is crucial to take note of worn out or damaged bearings to maintain your vehicle in optimal working conditions. With this in mind, when it comes to replacing such bearings or other components like screws, bolts, anchors, and more, look no further than Aerospace Purchasing. Aerospace Purchasing is a premier purchasing platform with a supply chain that stretches across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Kickoff the procurement process today by filling out and submitting an RFQ form, and a dedicated representative will reach out to you in less than 15 minutes with a quote for your comparisons.

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