Brake & Wheel Hub Kits
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Brake & Wheel Hub Kits at 1A Auto
What are the brakes and wheel hubs and where are they located?
Your wheel hubs and brakes work together as a team to get you going and to slow you down. The wheel hubs allow the wheels to spin and the brakes slow them down. The hub is held to the wheel spindle by a series of bolts. The axle connects to the wheel hub in its central bearing. Depending on whether the axle gets power from the engine, the wheel hub might spin with the axle or it might freewheel. The hub has a set of wheel studs that the wheel and tire mount to with lug nuts. The wheel and the hub spin together.
The brakes sit in between the hub and the wheel. Depending on the vehicle, there will be either a rotor or a drum mounted on the wheel studs. When you press the brake pedal it sends hydraulic fluid to a wheel cylinder that presses brake shoes into the drum or a caliper that presses pads into the rotor. That slows down the drum or rotor, and since the drum or rotor is on the wheel studs, it slows down the spinning of the wheel and the wheel hub, which slows down your car.
Some wheel hubs actually play a secondary role in braking. In some cases, the wheel hub contains the anti-lock brake system (ABS) sensor. This sends information to the cars computer about the speed of the wheel hub, so it can properly control the anti-lock brakes.
How do I know if my brakes and wheel hubs need to be replaced?
Brakes and wheel hubs will tell you when they need to be replaced. Both tend to make noise as they wear down. Brakes wear down over time from use and need to be periodically replaced. The friction material on the shoes or pads wears off, and as the metal starts to scrape on the metal of the drum or rotor, you will hear a squealing sound. The shoes or pads can start to wear grooves into the drums or rotors, which you will feel as wobbling when you put on the brakes. It’s a good idea to periodically check your brakes visually for wear.
Wheel hubs themselves don’t usually wear out. Instead, it’s the bearing that wears out. The bearing can corrode due to exposure to moisture, dirt, and road salt. A worn bearing may squeal, grind, or growl. The noise may worsen when you’re turning or driving at higher speeds. If your steering feels loose, that can also be a sign of a worn bearing. You can check your wheel bearings by raising the vehicle and spinning the wheels by hand. If the wheels wobble or grind, then the bearings are likely worn. Since worn bearings cause loose steering, you’ll want to take care of them as soon as you can. Although in some cases it might be possible to press a new bearing into the hub. Most car manufacturers use integrated hub and bearing assemblies because they are easier to install.
If there is a problem with your ABS sensor, your ABS light on your dashboard will turn on. If the light stays on, then odds are you have a broken ABS sensor. Unfortunately, if the ABS sensor is built into the hub assembly, you will have to replace the whole hub. You might end up throwing out a perfectly functional hub just to replace your ABS sensor.
Since you’ll have to remove your brakes to access your hub, and your brakes need periodic replacement anyway, then you might want to just replace your brakes while you replace your hubs. 1A Auto carries kits to help you replace your brakes and hubs all together. These kits contain the replacement brake rotors, brake pads, and wheel hubs for one pair (either the front or the rear), or for all four wheels.
Can I replace the brakes and wheel hubs myself?
The difficulty of replacing your wheel hubs and brakes will vary from one car to another, and may vary depending on where you live. If you live somewhere warm and dry, you will have an easier time than people who live in cold, wet climates where lots of road salt gets used. Hubs and brake parts can get rusty in cold climates, which makes them physically more demanding to remove. Experienced do-it-yourselfers will be able to do most brake and hub jobs. If you have experience changing brakes, replacing a hub isn’t too much more work. The two exceptions here are drum brakes and cases where you have to press a new wheel bearing. These complicate the process into a job you might want to leave to a professional.
Start out by raising and securing the vehicle and removing the wheel. Then unbolt your brake caliper and put it aside. Then pull off the rotor. To take off the hub, you’ll have to remove a large nut from the center. This might be covered with a dust cap. If so, tap the cap off with a hammer. Remove the hub nut. Then you can tap the axle out of the hub. Finally, unbolt the hub from the spindle and pull it off. You can reverse these steps to install the new hub and the new brakes. To keep your steering and brakes straight, it’s best to remove hubs and brakes in left-right pairs.