UTV wheel bearings are sneaky little devils. They crap out on you when you’re not paying attention, and then they do their best to wreak your suspension. So today, we’re talking about when good bearings go bad.
How long do wheel bearings last? How long can you drive on a bad wheel bearing? And how do you check your wheel bearings anyway? We’ll answer all these questions and more so you can get the upper hand on these little time bombs.
The lifespan of wheel bearings depends greatly on the type of riding you do and the frequency that you grease them.
If you frequently ride in dust, sand, water, or mud, you’ll need to grease your bearings often to keep them running well. It’s almost worth greasing them every ride to clear out contaminates, but greasing them once a month is probably good enough. The point is: the more you clean out the gunk that gets into your grease, the better.
Everybody rides differently. You may find that your grease doesn’t get contaminated very easily with your ride style so you can get away with greasing them twice a year. Or that silty creek could fill your bearings with crud every time you cross it. You won’t know unless you try greasing it and see what comes out.
With proper maintenance, even the bearings on your swamp-loving buggy can survive thousands of miles of torture.
If you don’t submerge your machine or subject it to tons of sand and dust, you can grease it less often and still have bearings that can last the lifetime of the vehicle.
But sometimes good wheel bearings go bad, even if you’ve done everything right. Let’s talk about how to spot one right away.
If your wheel bearings are going bad, there are a couple things you’ll start noticing while you ride.
First, they’re noisy. Do you hear a rumbling or loud humming coming from your wheels even when you’re driving in a straight line? That could mean your bearing is shot.
Next, do they clunk on sharp turns? Bad bearings make your wheels wobbly, and a sharp turn can make your wheel wobble loudly from one side to the other.
Finally, when you’re running in a straight line, do your wheels run true, or do they move from side to side? This one can be tough to catch because aggressive, dirty, or oddly-worn tires can all create the illusion of wobbliness.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s time to check your wheel bearings.
Checking your wheel bearings is a piece of cake, and it’s worth doing any time you have your UTV on a lift.
First, lift your side-by-side completely off the ground so the wheels are hanging in the air.
Then, grab the top of your wheel and try to move it in and out. If it moves, it’s time to replace your bearing.
It’s important to check for movement by grabbing the top of the tire. If you grab the front or rear of the tire and it wobbles, it could indicate bad tie rod ends instead. The difference is that wheel bearings tend to wobble in any direction whereas tie rod ends do not.
The process is similar for rear wheel bearings, but radius rods tend to make it a little more confusing. Again, if it wobbles in any direction, it’s a wheel bearing. If it doesn’t, you’re probably just looking at a bad bushing in your radius rods.
When your bearings start to go bad, it’s tempting to just let them go for a week or two. You can wait until you can find a convenient time to get your machine into the shop or on a lift, right?
Unless you like racking up bills replacing other parts like your bushings, ball joints, and tie rod ends, we recommend that you don’t wait! Since a bad bearing lets your wheel wobble, it’ll wear down all of your suspension components quickly. A shot bearing leads to premature wear in your bushings, ball joints, tie rod ends, and knuckle. If it’s bad enough, you can even get uneven tire wear. You’ll wish you never had a wallet after shelling out the dough to fix all that.
Replace it fast to enjoy your smoother, quieter ride with a fuller wallet.
When it comes time to replace your wheel bearings, look no further than SuperATV. We have the high-quality Polaris and Can-Am wheel bearings you need to keep everything in tip-top shape. Not only that, we also have Polaris and Can-Am wheel bearing greasers to match so you can grease them easily every time you need to.
With new, greased up wheel bearings, you can keep your suspension happy and healthy while you enjoy your smooth rides.