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Your vehicle’s wheel hubs are an important part of its suspension system. On some vehicles, the entire wheel hub must be removed and replaced to service the wheel bearings.



What is a Wheel Hub?

Regardless of what type of bearings your car uses, your wheels and brake rotors are mounted to some type of wheel hub. The wheel hub has lug studs fitted to hold the wheel and rotor. The wheel hub is the first thing you’re likely to see after you jack your vehicle up and remove your wheels.

How do Wheel Hubs Work?

The wheel hub assembly holds the brake rotor, which typically slips over the lug studs, and forms the attachment point for the wheel. There is a bearing or bearing race mounted inside the wheel hub. The front wheel hub creates a fixed attachment point for the wheel to roll and pivot as you drive the vehicle. The rear wheel hub stays largely fixed in place while it pivots on the rest of the suspension.

Wheel hubs rarely break or wear out, but the bearings inside will eventually need to be replaced as they age and become worn. Stuck fasteners often make wheel hubs moderately difficult to remove and replace.

How are Wheel Hubs Made?

Wheel hubs are usually made of steel or aluminum castings or forgings. Steel is the more common material used to construct wheel hubs. After it is forged, the rough part must be machined to its final dimensions.

Why do Wheel Hubs Fail?

  • Wheel hubs generally last for the life of most vehicles.
  • Wheel hubs with sealed bearings must be replaced when the bearings wear out.
  • Lug studs may break off over time and need to be replaced.

What are the Symptoms of Wheel Hub Failure?

  • Missing lug studs revealed during a visual inspection of the wheels.
  • Excessive vibration at speeds greater than 15-25 miles per hour. Worn wheel bearings are often mistaken for worn or damaged wheel hubs.
  • Clunky steering at speeds over 5 miles per hour. It is unwise to operate a vehicle that does not steer smoothly.
  • You may be able to feel play in your wheel hub by grabbing the sidewalls of your tires and shaking the hub with considerable force. If you feel any play in the wheel assembly, look into replacement wheel hubs or bearings.

What are the Implications of Wheel Hub Failure?

  • In extreme cases, the wheel or wheel hub may become detached from the vehicle and cause a traffic accident.
  • Tires, wheels, and wheel bearings may become loose and subject to spontaneous detachment.

Wheels need fixed attachment points for your vehicle’s steering and suspension systems to work properly. If you’ve recently noticed any play in your steering that seems to be coming from one of your wheels, start by diagnosing the issue and then check out Pep Boys, online or in your local store, for high quality replacement parts.

If you have questions or concerns about wheel hubs or any of your vehicle’s components, come into your local Pep Boys where we can answer any question, help you find any part, or perform any vehicle service you might need.