If you are in the process of upgrading your vehicle, do not forget the little things. Of course, the bigger, cooler upgrades come to the forefront since it is likely you are looking for dramatic increases in torque, horsepower, and drivability. One aspect to take care of is the wheel bearing replacement.

However, other parts can help deliver better performance to those parts helping them to do their jobs even better. One part to not overlook is your wheel hub bearings. You may not even think to upgrade them until you get that telltale noise that they’re ready to be replaced anyway. If that is the case and you are a hot rodder, street rodder, racer, or some other type of driver putting your vehicle through tougher conditions than a regular every day driver, consider looking into upgrading your wheel hub bearings when you do your wheel bearing replacement.

How Do Your Wheel Hub Bearings Work?

So, you hear a strange noise being emitted from beneath your vehicle. Then, you decide to make a stop at your mechanics or check it out for yourself. Come to find out, your wheel bearings are what are making that noise. Looks like you are in need of a wheel bearing replacement. But, what exactly is a wheel bearing? And, are there other options for a wheel bearing replacement that can help them withstand extreme driving conditions?

A wheel bearing is a set of small, typically steel, balls that are held together by a metal ring that is sometimes referred to as a race. Their job is to basically allow a wheel to spin with minimal friction as you drive. You can find them on all sorts of transportation implements. They are even on bicycles, airplanes, and skateboards.

On your vehicle, you will find them snugly tucked into a hub that rides along on your axe shaft. The hub itself is a hollow piece of metal that holds the lug nuts you use to attach your tires to the wheel. Your bearings press into that hollow hub from the back side. When bearings fail, it is likely that a seal opens and allows water to enter and compromise the bearings. Or, general use with a lack of lubrication will cause heat damage to them as well.

So, as a performance driver, what options do you have when looking at a wheel bearing replacement? Ceramic wheel bearing replacement is a popular choice. This is due to their durability and other features that make them ideal for harsher driving applications.

General Specifications

  • Typically made of hardened steel;
  • Ceramic options for racing and street performance;
  • Susceptible to heat and water;
  • Most wheel bearings come with pre-sealing as an assembly: front, center, or outer race;
  • Assemblies with a seal also include high temperature grease within them;
  • You may notice failure of a wheel bearing usually when they begin to get noisy;
  • Usually will not fail immediately;
  • Do not need set replacement.

PROs and CONs of Upgrading to Ceramic on Your Next Wheel Bearing Replacement

PROs

  • Less friction: Because ceramic causes 9/10ths less friction than steel, you can shave off plenty of time in race laps.
  • Less weight: Ceramic bearing replacement comes with the benefit of 60% less weight than steel bearings. This will lower your bearing rotating weight.
  • Durability: Ceramic bearings have five times the average life than that of stock steel bearings because they are harder than steel balls.
  • Lower temperatures: Ceramic bearings do not have the micro weld adhesion you find between the balls and the race of metal bearings. That translates to less friction. Less friction, less heat generated.
  • Ceramic also has a lesser quantity of thermal expansion which will help keep temperatures low.
  • Ceramic runs cooler and vibrates less at higher speeds.
  • You can rinse them off with paint thinner and re-oil them if they begin to get sluggish.
  • Come in grades 5, 25, 50 and 100 where 5 is the highest grade.
  • Ceramic is more free flowing than steel because they are rounder.

CONs

  • Watch out for imports where the bearings are not actually made from ceramic but are steel balls coated in ceramic.
  • More expensive to change out when you do need to get a wheel bearing replacement. Ceramic is more expensive to manufacture and they are typically manually built resulting in an increase in price point.

Examples of Ceramic Wheel Bearing Parts

MicroBlue Bearings: 6300 Ceramic Ball Bearing

  • MicroBlue is dedicated to supplying the racing circuit with high performance wheel bearings and other products. This is something consumers can tell right away when speaking with customer service. They are knowledgeable and can really help you focus on improving your ride since they are a race-only company.
  • In fact, they also offer a money back guarantee that their ceramic bearings will impress you. Now that is some confidence.
  • Available on the company’s website for $45.00 – $195.00.

Performance Bearing: Jerry Bickle and Lamb Strut Ceramic Spindle Bearing Kit

  • Performance bearing offers direct fitting ceramic replacement bearings for almost any application.
  • Customers cannot get enough of the smooth free rolling bearings that not only impress them, but the people who get to see them in action from the outside.
  • The owners of Performance Bearing have been improving their product since 2002 and continue to make advances towards offering the best friction free bearings they can.
  • Available on the company’s website for $479.98.

Worldwide Bearings: Ceramic Motorcycle Bearings

  • As it was stated before, not only can cars benefit from a ceramic wheel bearing replacement, but other vehicles can as well. Worldwide Bearings offer the highest quality bearings that are assembled in the United States so that they can personally maintain their precision tolerances and quality. They even test their parts with some of the top racing teams.
  • Customers look to them to get the most out of their motorcycle performance and cannot say enough about the durability of their parts.
  • Available on the company’s website.

To Your Car

Whether you are looking into a wheel bearing replacement because of a strange noise or because you want to know your options, thinking about an upgrade may be right for your application. A ceramic upgrade can give you many extra benefits during performance driving conditions and even give you an edge in racing.

Do you use ceramic bearings? Do you feel they perform better to the point you can definitely see a difference? Leave any helpful comments here for others who are considering an upgrade during their next wheel bearing replacement.

Image from pxshare.com.

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