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The Importance Of Proper Bearings Lubrication

Though bearings lubrication is often overlooked, it is an essential part of having a well-maintained vehicle or machinery. As it serves a vital purpose, it has three basic functions: to reduce friction caused by direct metal-to-metal contact, equal transfer of heat, and to protect bearing rolling elements from contaminants, oxidation and corrosion.

Lubrication also optimizes operational efficiency. It ensures that your bearings can perform under the most demanding conditions and keeps your vehicle or equipment relatively squeak-free and wear-free.

No car can function without well-maintained bearings. Therefore, bearings and proper lubricants play a significant role in their functionality. And like any other spare part, these have an expected service life.

Top bearing suppliers near you can provide expert advice on this matter.

The importance of lubrication

To sustain proper bearing function and reduced assembly-related failure, proper lubrication must be applied. Specific factors then must be taken into account. Insufficient viscosity reduces the lubricant’s efficiency which can lead to metal-to-metal contact, heat, wear, and surface degradation.

Selecting the right type of lubricants

The correct selection of a lubricant will allow your vehicle to function with optimum efficiency as its performance will be within the operating conditions and limitations of  the  bearing system. There are two types which are applicable to an automotive or machinerys’ general bearing assembly: oil and grease.

Oil provides good penetration into a bearing and has a cooling effect (thermal convection) which makes it a suitable lubrication choice for high speed or high temperature applications.

As a product with semi-fluid to solid consistency, grease lubricants meanwhile can be blended with specific additives to obtain specific properties. These simplify the sealing process for bearing components and are easy to apply.

However, both have their disadvantages. Oil has a higher risk of leakage and can carry pollutants to the far end of the spare part system due to its fluidity. Grease on the other hand can result to overheating and higher energy consumption if given to the wrong application.

For some automotive bearings, it is recommended to use a universal multi-purpose grease. Not only does it provide excellent protection against wear and corrosion, it is also energy efficient even in humid environments.

Vehicles that expose bearings to heavy loads should use a heavy-duty lubricant. Similar to a universal multi-purpose grease, a heavy-duty grease safeguards against wear and corrosion. It is also highly resistant to water, extreme humidity, and hot temperatures, making it an excellent choice for arduous applications such as truck wheel hubs.

Proper application of lubrication

The correct lubricant for your automotive or mechanical bearings will compose of the right additives and proper viscosity. Proper application maximizes the longevity of your bearings and ensures that their service life is maximized.

Indeed, the most common cause of bearing failure is over-application of the lubricant as it reduces air circulation which results in overheating and consequently, premature damage. Excess lubricant has also been known to leak out of a bearing assembly, reducing a vehicle’s operating performance and lifespan.

Likewise, too little application can induce metal-to-metal contact especially on certain bearings which require a heavy-handed approach to grease application unlike others which only need  light coating.

Past studies have shown that one-third of grease coverage is the ideal quantity of application for optimum bearing protection. If in doubt, check your manufacturer’s handbook.

Hassanein Alwan is the Marketing Director of Mineral Circles Bearings with more than 10 years' experience in the bearing industry's technical support division as well as sales and marketing with expertise in strategic business development consultancy.

With a degree of Master of Science in Engineering from KTH Royal Institute of Technology and an International Diploma in Business from the University of Cambridge, he started his career in Sweden as a Machine Safety engineer for Gröna Lund and as SAAB Aerosystems' Aeronautical engineer. Today, he serves as a member of the Know Your Market Committee after joining EPTDA in 2013.


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