Grand Rapids Ford & Mazda Dealer News

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Did you know there are parts of your powertrain and suspension that are designed to be replaceable? Aside from the obvious ones like shocks and struts, there are a number of components that all work together to power the wheels, keep your vehicle stable, and keep your steering tight and predictable. These include your axles, tie rods, sway bar, and wheel hubs. If you plan on hitting the road in West Michigan this summer, it's worth having the Borgman Service Team look at these rugged but critical components first.

We typically don't think about these parts until there's an issue, but they are all under stress every time you use your vehicle and they do eventually wear out. West Michigan drivers especially need to keep these parts in mind, as our roads are not as smooth as they are in other parts of the country. This will wear these parts out faster than the national averages you see online. Today, we'll discuss what your axles, tie rods, sway bars, and wheel hubs are, what they do, and when you should replace them at the Borgman Service Center.

What Do Axles Do and When Do They Wear Out?

Constant Velocity Axles and Joints, since the part performs both functions, have a relatively simple job. They transfer power in the form of rotation from the transmission to the wheels. Also known as CV Axles or Half Shafts, they consist of two solid metal couplers on either end with a rubber boot covering each joint. This keeps lubricating grease inside the joint while keeping dirt, water, and contaminants out. These joins allow the transmission to be positioned higher than the wheels and allow the axle to bend when the wheel travels over bumps or turns.

CV Axles do not need to be replaced very often at all, in fact, it's far more common to replace them both when one starts to fail rather than on a schedule. Signs that your vehicle's axles are wearing out include seeing dark, sticky grease on the inside of your tires, and a scraping, clicking sound when you take tighter turns. However, the latter can also be caused by a failing wheel hub bearing (more on that later.) Your passenger side CV Axle is likely to wear out first since right turns are taken more sharply in the USA and are more common. If you're concerned that yours is wearing out, check the inside of that tire first.

What Are Tie Rods? Why Do I Need Them Inspected?

Just above your axles (in most cases) are your tie rods. Their job is to connect the wheel hubs to the steering system, which translates the turning motion of your steering wheel into a side-to-side motion - pulling on one and pushing the other. There are inner and outer tie rods, and the inner ones are covered in a protective rubber boot, much like an axle. Like the other parts mentioned here, they're very durable and don't have a strict maintenance schedule.

However, when your tie rods fail, you'll be unable to steer. Signs that they are wearing out include "play" or vibrations in the steering wheel, excessive tire wear with sometimes bizarre patterns or sounds clunking while turning. One of the experts at the Borgman Service Center will be able to determine if it's time for a replacement.

What Is A Sway Bar, What Does It Do?

If you drive a smaller vehicle, chances are you don't even have a sway bar. Also called an anti-roll or roll bar, sway bars are rigid metal beams bent to whatever needed shape and are typically only found in larger vehicles like pickup trucks or cargo vans. These act as a spring or lever when under load, and they work to counteract centripetal force when making turns - ensuring all of the tires remain flat on the pavement.

When sway bars begin to fail, you'll start to notice your vehicle getting more and more unstable when taking turns. You may also hear something clanging or rattling around in your engine bay. Generally, if you're experiencing steering or stability issues, this will be one of the first things that are inspected.

When Do I Need To Replace Wheel Hubs & Bearings? What Do They Do?

There are many different types of wheel hubs and bearings, but their primary jobs are the same: keep the wheels spinning smoothly. Wheel hubs are just that: a place for the suspension, brakes, axles, steering, and the wheel itself to all bolt together. In the center, between the threaded posts your wheel bolts onto, you'll see a spindle that connects to the axle. This part turns, which then turns the posts and the wheel, and the bearings keep this motion nice and smooth - reducing friction and noise.

Nowadays, most wheel bearings are non-serviceable, meaning if your bearings wear out, the whole hub needs to be replaced. When your wheel bearings begin to fail, you may notice a grinding sound, or a sound akin to a ping-pong ball spinning around in a plastic cup coming from the wheels. As the situation worsens, your wheel will start to wobble when rotating, eventually falling off altogether.

The easiest way to check if you need a new wheel hub is to raise the vehicle safely on jack stands, grab the top and bottom of a driven wheel, and see if you can shake it as hard as you can. If you're able to move the wheel around, you need new bearings. If there's barely any movement, you can also put the vehicle in neutral (make sure your non-drive wheels are chocked or the vehicle is completely raised) and spin the wheel. This lets you listen for odd sounds from the hub without the engine drowning them out. If you hear anything above a whisper, bring your vehicle in for an inspection at the Borgman Service Center.

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Enjoy the West Michigan Summer Worry-Free with the Borgman Service Center

Before hitting the road to adventure this summer, Schedule an Appointment with the Borgman Service Center. Our team will ensure your vehicle is running in tip-top shape for the summer months or your next vacation. This is in addition to making sure you understand the work to be performed, and how critical the part is to the life and safety of your vehicle.

To get started, use our easy Online Scheduler to make your appointment, then check out our latest Service Coupons. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. Come see why we're the Best in the West!
Categories: News, Service, Parts