The center support bearing is a relatively small component in a mid-size vehicle, but a properly functioning bearing is crucial for both consistent overall performance and to prevent damage to other vehicle components. Possible indications of a failing center bearing should be investigated promptly, and a worn or damaged center bearing should be replaced immediately with a quality option.
A center bearing provides essential support for a vehicle’s driveshaft, which connects the transmission to the rear differential so the rear wheels can turn. A longer driveshaft can put stress on driveshaft components; the center support bearing provides a measure of flexibility to the driveshaft, alleviating some of this tension and allowing the driveshaft to turn easily. The center bearing allows the shaft to turn as it should even if it is not perfectly straight. In addition, it absorbs the vibrations associated with driving on rough roads or on a trail.
When a center bearing wears out from constant use or becomes damaged, three common symptoms can alert an operator to the problem. The first is a shudder or jolt that occurs when accelerating the vehicle from a complete stop. In this case, the failing bearing no longer provides proper support to the driveshaft, so the shaft begins to flex incorrectly. The buffeting puts stress on driveline components, making the vehicle less responsive when cornering. The second indicator involves a feeling of diminished performance or resistance while driving, sometimes described as a compelling feeling. The third sign of a possible problem with a center bearing is unusual noises. These noises occur when accelerating or decelerating and can include squealing, squealing, squealing and screeching.
As soon as any of these issues are detected, the vehicle should be brought in for inspection. If the problem is ignored, other components such as the differential, driveshaft, or transmission can suffer serious damage. For example, if the center support bearing fails completely, the driveshaft may flex to the point of contacting the underside of the vehicle, causing damage and turning a simple part replacement into downtime and major repairs.
Replacement is necessary if it is determined that a worn center bearing is the cause of any of the above symptoms. When selecting a new aftermarket center bearing, resist the urge to buy an inferior part to save a few dollars up front. Center bearings are precision parts that require sophisticated manufacturing procedures and choice materials. An inferior part will only lead to premature failure and further repairs. And while lower priced bearings may look very similar to premium bearings at first glance, the difference becomes clear later when it comes to a return or frustrated customer.
Selecting a center bearing designed for performance and durability will ensure years of reliable service. Key components to purchase include high quality steel mounts and the correct rubber hardness to ensure a smooth and quiet ride. Of course, a design that meets original equipment specifications will ensure a proper fit.
For a line of aftermarket center bearings that offer all of these benefits, check out Spicer Select™ Light-Duty Center Support Bearings made by the powertrain experts at Dana. Engineered with premium quality bearings, they are proven to last the life of a vehicle. In order to serve a wider range of customers looking for quality parts, this line of bearings has recently been expanded. The expanded coverage includes applications for high-volume in-service (VIO) vehicles like Chevrolet® Silverado trucks and fleet-managed last-mile delivery Dodge® and Mercedes® Sprinter vans.
A light vehicle’s center support bearing will likely wear out over time or become damaged. When this happens, being aware of signs that this part may soon fail can help prevent further damage to related parts. Replacing the center bearing will prevent extended downtime and choosing a quality option ensures years of reliable service to come.