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Tapered Roller Bearings for Wheel End Applications

Wheel bearings come in a number of different designs. Tapered roller bearings were once the most common design for wheel end use, but they are growing less common in today’s modern vehicles. TRBs are still being used in certain applications. Check out this video to learn what a Technician should know about tapered roller bearings.

I’m Brian here with Matt from BCA. Matt, thanks for joining us. Tapered wheel bearings are growing less common in today’s modern vehicles, but they are still being used in certain applications.

Matt: Yeah, that’s right. Tapered bearings are mostly used nowadays in heavy duty applications, truck applications.

Brian: Why might an OEM decide to use tapered bearings, say over ball bearings in an application?

Matt: Well, they have the capacity to carry more weight. So on a tapered bearing assembly, you’re going to see that the weight is distributed across the length of the tapered bearing. On a ball bearing, you’ve got one point of contact. So if you had a basketball on the table, it’s just contacting one surface, so you have less contact surface, less load bearing capacity.

Brian: Are there any potential shortfalls of using a tapered bearing?

Matt: Yeah, it’s a whole different kind of animal. The servicing of it is different, the inspections of it are different, the installation is different. It’s a two piece design with a bearing and with a race. We suggest that you always service them together. In some cases, they have to be pressed onto an axle shaft assembly. Some have lock rings that hold them in place so you’re going to need a bearing driver and a whole different set of tools to service those.

Brian: I’m glad you mentioned service. What, as a technician, what should I know going into a job, working on this type of bearing?

Matt: Well, I think I’d just familiarize yourself with the inspection process. So if the customer’s hearing a noise or growling from the rear axle of an assembly, you can take it apart and check for looseness or galling or spalling, any kind of abnormalities in the roller elements and also in the race. So a good visual inspection, a good set of tools, a press bearing packer, and knowing that whenever you replace these, you’re going to also need to replace a seal with it.

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