Noises, vibrations, and difficulty steering are signs of a pinion bearing. How long can I drive with a pinion bearing noise? Let’s discuss and find out why pinion bearings break and what you should do
Did you fail to understand those strange noises coming out of the car at certain speeds last time? Well, you must be ignoring it all the while by now. Not paying attention to these small signs can lead to major accidents in the future.
However, it is very likely the pinion bearings could have gone bad. But what exactly are pinion bearings, and why driving with a bad pinion bearing is dangerous? To answer all of these questions, here is a small guide to make you understand if it is safe to drive with a broken pinion bearing.
How Important is Pinion Bearing?
Pinion bearings are small round gears, commonly used in motor vehicles. Also known as pinion gear, the use of the pinion bearings is to support the rotating parts, i.e. wheels of the vehicle.
The pinion bearings bear the load and enable the car wheels to rotate freely by reducing friction. Additionally, the bearings sustain the radial and thrust load effectively.
Why should you care? When you corner or turn your car, the pinion bearings allow both wheels to move at different speeds. As you turn towards the left, the wheels on the left side will turn faster than the other wheel. Therefore, pinion bearings will help you take smooth turns without fail.
With crystalline design in metal form, the pinion bearings are useful to prevent corrosion in cars, two-wheelers and bicycles. Also located in the centre of the wheels in steering and tires, the bearings handle the heating temperature generated by rotating wheels, keeping it optimum.
You might like to read: 6 Things To Do When You Hear A Noise When Turning Steering Wheel At Low Speed
Does Pinion Bearing Show Damaging Signs in Advance?
Even with a smooth design and polished surface, pinion bearings are prone to damage when not taken care of properly. There are plenty of reasons behind the failure of pinion bearings which often go unnoticed by car drivers.
Your car will automatically show signs of damage in various forms when you drive. From hearing different sounds to experiencing vibrations, from noticing broken tires to meeting accidents, problems with broken pinion bearings can worsen.
The most common and usual symptom of a bad pinion bearing is the annoying noises. When you drive, you will often hear some loud and consistent noises, specifically from the location of the pinion bearings. You will often hear such strange noises from tires or differential assembly located below the car.
Let’s discuss why these noises occur in the first place and how they can be a problem for car owners.
A sharp whirring noise
You will probably hear a sharp but consistent whirring noise at all speeds. So, when you try to accelerate or decelerate on a straight and smooth road, your car can produce whirring noises.
These types of noises can occur due to worn-out pinion bearings. So, when bearings lose, it rotates several times faster than the normal speed. As a result, both the pinion bearings and the drive shaft whirls around rapidly.
Large howl noise
A loud howling or slow whining noise can also appear with a broken ring and pinion gears. Ring gears are large gears, similar to ring size, and transmit both power and rotating speed to car wheels. The broken ring and pinion gears likely happen with broken gear teeth. Moreover, when the wide gear tooth falls out of place, it fails to mesh against the other gears.
When the car rumbles and moves forcefully, it slows down its speed and produces vibrations. So, when you experience rumbling sounds, there are high chances that your carrier bearing is failing to a very extent.
The purpose of a carrier bearing is integral in the differential assembly, and keeping the driveshaft in place reduces vibrations. When carrier bearings fail to perform, the driveshaft becomes too flexible and causes rumbling sounds in corners or turns.
Apart from producing loud strange noises, your car can even vibrate at increasing speed. These vibrations can happen due to lack of lubrication, leaking differential fluid, loose driveshaft, or inappropriate pinion bearing preload. So, next time when you feel that your car is vibrating at a certain pace, a bad pinion bearing is to blame.
With noises and vibrations coming out of a car, it could also be difficult to control speeds while turning or cornering. Above all, this causes mishandling and can even lead to accidents in the future.
When the pinion bearings wear down, the vehicle’s wheels move at a higher speed, reaching beyond the optimum speed range. Since the inner threads of the tires fail to sustain high speeds, the tires may break down during acceleration.
You might like to read: Why Does Wheel Bearing Noise Goes Away When Turning Left?
What Causes A bad Pinion Bearing In A Vehicle?
Now that you are well accustomed to the problems you’ll have when you drive with a noisy pinion bearing, you should also inspect the varied causes.
Nevertheless, every problem has a manageable solution. It shouldn’t be surprising to invest in monthly servicing if one intends to take good care of cars. After all, knowing all about the causes without an immediate action would only cause you more harm while driving.
When gears in the differential fall out of place, it is obvious that you may have to deal with a pinion bearing noise. One end of the gear may also break earlier than it should, leading to noise in the pinion bearing.
In a nutshell, when gears are misplaced or set up inappropriately, driveshafts appear to be bending, or one unit of the differential comes into contact with the pinion gear, which will put pressure on gears, causing a pinion bearing noise.
Every machine functions well only when it receives appropriate oil lubricants inside the wheels. When you pour down some effective grease or oil on the bearings, it protects against corrosion, maintains the heating temperature, and extends bearing life.
When a type of lubricant used fails to perform effectively or if fluid leaks happen, it affects the pinion bearing, making them bear excess heat and failing miserably.
A bad pinion bearing can also result from dust, water, or grime accumulation.
Lack of lubrication or insufficient lubricants can also corrode the pinion bearings. With a lack of moisture or irregular servicing, pinion bearings can rust with time.
Yet another rising cause behind a failed pinion bearing is improper installation. Bearings are usually pressed against the floating ring to mount them correctly on a pinion system.
However, it is best to get your car to a nearby mechanic for proper mounting if you are a novice.
Overloading Or High Temperature
Pinion bearings wear down early when it continues to run in high temperatures. Wear and tear usually happens when excess heat can cause fluids to leak, and the oil leaves a soap residue. Eventually, loss of oil or grease seizes the pinion bearings.
Moreover, excess preload set-up in the pinion bearings is one major known cause behind a pinion bearing failure.
Is It Safe To Drive With Worn Out Pinion Bearings?
You would often hear it is better to drive safe than to drive with some possible risks. It is best to avoid driving while you suspect a bad pinion bearing for your health and car safety.
In most circumstances, if the damage done to pinion bearings are least or most extreme, it can survive for a few days or even for years.
What Are The Replacement Costs For A Broken Pinion Bearing?
The costs may vary according to the current condition of these pinion bearings. Costs will also depend if one of the parts needs alteration or the pinion bearings themselves needs replacement.
For example, if a unit or one component gets damaged, it can cost you around 70$-90$. Whereas, if a problem is worse and the whole pinion bearing stops working, you would have to spend 200$-500$, irrespective of the brand.
In terms of labor costs, an additional cost of $200 minimum will make you spend a minimum of $500 on replacing a bad pinion bearing.
Frequently Asked Questions
#1. What does a bad wheel bearing sound like?
You may hear sounds like humming, howling, or grinding noises when you accelerate or slow down your car.
#2. What does broken on the wheel mean?
A broken wheel bearing indicates vibrations in steerings. One can feel these vibrations when you increase the car speed, in U-turns, or while cornering or turning left or right.
In extreme cases, the tires can also lose and fall flat at any point when you drive. For this reason, driving with a bad wheel bearing is often not recommended.
#3. Is it bad to drive with a bad differential?
Driving with a worn-out differential is a bad idea. Apart from being dangerous, it can directly affect the other parts of the vehicle. A bad differential can create noises and vibrations, damage tires, and lead to accidents.
#4. How long does it take to replace a pinion bearing?
It takes nearly 3 hours to 5 hours to change a pinion bearing.
Before we reach the final verdict, it is best to seek a professional mechanic to understand things closely. Now that you are familiar with the problems, causes,and replacement costs of a bad pinion bearing, you should be able to decide what works best for you.
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