Most Common Bearings Used in Automotives

July 9, 2018

An automobile, what most of us call a car, exists because of numerous engineering breakthroughs. Thanks to those technological milestones, people can drive anywhere, even offroad. But this is a wheeled vehicle, a machine that relies on many rotating mechanical parts, so it takes a special set of rolling elements to make vehicles move. There’s nothing common about their designs, although there are many common types of bearings used in the automotive sector.

Transmitting Engine Power 

Few machines use as many moving parts as an internal combustion engine. For bearing suppliers, that engine compartment represents a rare chunk of engineering real estate. They know there are roller bearings in the engine block, which enable the crankshaft components to convert cylinder push-pull action into radial motion. Frankly, apart from the fuel-sparking magic, this reciprocal motion symbolizes the energy-converting essence of a modern automobile.

Supporting the Engine 

Ball bearings are inside coolant pumps. As for the alternator shaft, another set of bearings is hard at work on the mounted rotor shaft. Supercharger assemblies, water pumps and idler tensioner bearings, all of these auxiliary engine systems function because of dozens of spinning ball bearings. Following that power transmission line to the gearbox, plain bearings take over. They’re the low-friction, high-wear components that handle enormous loading factors and torque. Whether the transmission system is built to function automatically or in a manually driven car, each plain bearing ensures smooth and efficient torque conversion.

Bearings Turn Wheels 

Is there any other car system that illustrates the benefits of rolling element technology so well? The kinetic energy, radially transmitted, arrives at the car axles, where it’s directly transmitted to the wheels. The axles and rubber tyres spin, but the car moves in a line, down a highway, around a bend, and off into the distance. Wheel bearings support the weight of the vehicle while they simultaneously provide massive quantities of frictionless drive energy. At the other end of this power transmitting chain, the steering system, equipped with a universal joint, is using steering gear bearings and knuckle bearings to delicately steer the motoring beast, all so that the driving experience stays firmly under the control of the car owner.

And this post is just scratching the surface. There are twin races and roller elements formed into cartridges inside just about every moving part. The air conditioning system in a car depends on their rotating and friction-attenuating capabilities. Then there are clutch bearings, differential type variants, wheel hub bearings, and much more. Available by the thousand, the engineering know-how behind these technologically advanced parts has added new features to old designs, including polymer-laced hybrid designs and new maintenance-free bearings.

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