A center support bearing is a type of drivetrain bearing that is commonly found on rear wheel drive vehicles. Its purpose is to serve as support for the vehicle’s drive shaft and the metal shaft that goes along the underside of the vehicle and transfers power from the vehicle’s transmission to the rear differential where it is then transferred to the wheels. While it’s purpose is simple, when the support bearing goes bad it can cause problems and even compromise the drivability of the vehicle. Usually a faulty center support bearing will produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver that a potential problem has occurred and needs to be serviced.
Unusual noises when vehicle accelerates
Unusual noises are some of the first symptoms produced by a bad or failing center support bearing. An excessively worn or faulty center support bearing will howl or squeal when the vehicle accelerates from a stop. The howling or squealing may quiet down as the vehicle picks up speed.
Shuddering during acceleration
Shuddering during acceleration is another symptom commonly associated with a faulty support bearing. A failed bearing will not be able to properly support the drive shaft, and as a result the drive shaft will flex incorrectly, which will cause vibration and shuddering. In more severe cases of support bearing failure, the driveshaft may even shudder and flex to the point of making contact with the undersides of the vehicle, which can cause damage to both the driveshaft and the chassis.
Most center support bearings are heavy duty and built for a long service life, however, over time they will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. A worn center support bearing will not be able to properly support the vehicle and will render it undrivable once it completely fails. If you suspect that your center support bearing may be having a problem, or your vehicle is displaying any of the symptoms above, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine if your vehicle needs a center support bearing replacement.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Support Bearing and was authored by Ed Ruelas.