Get Your Bearings Straight
The wheel bearings on your vehicle, whether Ford, Toyota, or any other brand car, are extremely important to the safety and functionality of your car. The job of this part is to smooth the constant spinning of the tires on the axle. They keep the wheels from grinding or wearing out as fast with the constant motion. If these are bad, there is even the chance that your tire may fall off as you drive. It is simple to check this, especially if you already suspect the need to have the wheel bearings replaced.
Go for a Drive
First, if there are any grinding or squealing kinds of noises coming from your car, you need to determine whether it is coming from the front or the back. To do this, you need to drive it. Once you’ve decided which end the sound is coming from, park somewhere flat so you can raise the vehicle. The sound of a bad wheel bearing will not be affected by turning, only by the speed of the rotation of the wheels.
Prepare to Lift
Once parked, put on the emergency brake if you are going to check the front of the car, then put it into either neutral or shift it out of gear if it is a manual transmission. If you are going to check the back axle, then leave the automatic transmission in park, or put the manual transmission in any gear other than reverse.
Next, place chocks on the outside edge of the wheels you will not be checking. They are there to prevent your car from rolling away while it is lifted on jack stands.
Raise and Implement Jack Stands
Now that your car is prepared to be lifted safely, use a jack to raise it, then place a jack stand under it. While it is possible to do this without a jack stand, it is not as safe. The jack stand is designed to keep the vehicle at a certain height indefinitely. Just a jack can fail and drop the car.
Test for Wiggle Room
With your vehicle lifted safely, place your hand on the top and bottom of one of the wheels. Try to wiggle it. If there is any wiggling, then that is a bad sign. It means that the wheel bearings are likely loose and will need immediate attention.
In addition to trying to wiggle the tires, spin them as well. If the rear tire will not spin, disengage the emergency brake to do so. The chocks and having it in park or in gear will keep it from rolling. Re-engage the emergency brake when you have finished. When you spin the tire, listen for any of the grinding, squealing, or any other sounds that do not belong. These are also signals that your wheel bearings may be bad.
Older cars do not have sealed assemblies for the wheel bearing, so you may be able to see if there is an obvious problem. Look at the back of the wheel, and if you see large amounts of grease, any rust, or anything mixed into the grease, it would be best to have it checked by a professional.
Lower the Car
Once you have checked both tires on the end you have begun with, then lower your car to the ground using the jack.
Reverse and Repeat
Now that your car is on the ground again, switch ends to check the other axle. Even if you did not hear any kind of noise from that end, it is a good idea to check anyway. Once again, if you are now working on the back of the car, leave the car in park or shifted into gear. If you are working on the front of the car, then leave it in neutral or shifted out of gear. Also, be sure your chocks are wedged into place before you lift the other end. Then repeat the three checks on the other axle.
Consult a Professional
If you found any signs that your wheel bearings may be going bad, then take your car to a professional to have them checked and possibly replaced. These are too important for you not to have in peak condition.
The wheel bearings ensure the longevity of your vehicle, along with the safety of yourself and your passengers. No matter what make, Nissan, Ford, or Cadillac, the wheel bearings should be checked regularly. It is easiest for a professional if you have them checked when the brakes are serviced. If you fear that they may be going bad, checking them by yourself is easy too, just be sure to take your car to a professional if you decide the bearings are a problem.