Humming or squealing, an awful grinding noise coming from your wheels… Yeah, most probably, it’s time for new wheel bearings. Three brands I especially respect when it comes to axle and wheel bearing replacements are Timken, Moog and SKF.
Let me tell you a story. A friend of mine was angry with Moog. He bought one of their bearings for his Silverado. It died after 11000 miles or so! Turns out, he had literally bought the cheapest wheel bearings they have! It was not ready for his off-road antics. He did change it with a proper heavy-duty Moog bearing. 25000 miles later, he couldn’t be happier.
Moral of the story: Don’t go for the cheapest models when it comes to parts that are crucial for your vehicle! In this post, I’ll talk only about the highest-quality bearings from Timken, SKF and Moog. Let’s compare and find out which one is the best wheel bearing brand.
A detailed look:
Wheel bearings compared & reviewed
1. The Best of Timken:
SP500300 Axle Bearing/Hub Assembly
Note: The SP500300 Axle Bearing/Hub Assembly is for Silverado, Sierra, Tahoe, Yukon XL and other Chevies. For Jeep axle bearings, check out this model. If you have a Dodge Ram, this is the right assembly.
Is Timken a good brand? Well, Timken has probably the most diversified portfolio of wheel bearings. Cylindrical, plain, integrated or tapered – you can get lost among the technicalities.
This axle bearing and hub assembly is a part of their tapered bearing line. A big design perk here is the integrated raceway and hub. It’s intelligently manufactured so you can get better stiffness and tightness over many other assemblies designed the ‘standard’ way.
But that’s not the only good thing design-wise here. You also have a fully serviceable wheel speed sensor, a.k.a. ABS sensor with an internal mount. Because it’s inside, you don’t need to worry about dirt or other direct damage/abrasions. It comes hooked with one cord, similar to OEMs.
Timken’s beauty comes preassembled with lug bolts. Are they frustrating to deal with? Not really. You might need a bit of force to remove them but nothing too bad. Be careful with the heads of the studs – you shouldn’t round them.
OK, so what are the downsides? I’d say the warranty and the ABS sensor. Especially the warranty.
- A 90-day warranty is quite short compared to Moog, SKF, or many other wheel bearing manufacturers. Timken wheel bearings are generally of great construction, but if something happens, you have a short window of time to return them. So, in the Moog vs Timken vs SKF battle, Timken loses on the warranty front.
- As far as the ABS sensor goes, it’s not that it’s bad. However, it can be a little flimsy. A good way to deal with that is to ensure you have the right car model, as sensor cables differ slightly.
2. The Best of Moog:
515036 Wheel Bearing/Hub Assembly
The 515036 Wheel Bearing/Hub Assembly is for: Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Avalanche, Express Silverado, Sierra, Tahoe, and Yukon XL.
I’ve praised Moog’s suspension parts and ball joints enough in my comparison with Mevotech. There’s a reason why NASCAR loves them too.
So, you have to ask the question – are Moog wheel bearings good or are things different on this front? The answer is – absolutely. Moog is still a very good choice for any car owner who wants reliable replacement parts. Let’s look at some of the benefits you get when using Moog bearings:
- The biggest benefit I want to mention here is the 3-year warranty you get. I think it’s a serious way for Moog to demonstrate exactly how much they believe in and trust their manufacturing practices.
- Speaking of the manufacturer, is anything worth noting? Absolutely. A big advantage of Moog wheel bearings is the ABS construction. It’s shielded by molded construction and comes with sturdy socket connections. To top it off, the cord here is superior to Timken as it’s produced from abrasion-resistant, heavy-duty material.
- When it comes to design features, I’d like to also point out Moog’s roll form design. You get consistent pre-load in your hub, and once you grease it, the grease spreads properly (read: equally) throughout. Why is this important? Because it ensures that your wheel bearing and hub assembly stay intact for longer.
- Last but not least, the wheel stud bolts here have better coating than Timken (but worse than SKF).
To learn more about Moog wheel bearings and hub assemblies, check out this video:
So, where’s the catch?
There’s no catch per se, but again the ABS sensor isn’t outstanding. It’s a solid assembly, but Timken products make more sense for people focusing on more affordable options.
- Longest warranty at 3 years.
- A classic steel bearing with better coating.
- Roll form design for better grease spread.
- Reinforced ABS cord too.
3. The best of SKF:
The BR930661 (X-Tracker) is for: Silverado, Yukon, you know the drill. If you want a replacement for Dodge Ram 2500 or 3500, check out this one. It’s not from the X-Tracker line, but I think SKF makes the best Dodge Ram wheel bearings out there anyways.
SKF has three generations of wheel-bearing technology. X-Tracker is their newest (technically 4th, I guess). Let me say something: the X-Tracker is some serious premium treatment for your car’s wheels.
- This series takes Moog’s roll from the manufacturer and pairs it with premium materials for increased toughness. We’re talking about heat-treated, high-quality carbon steel that completely blows any competitor wheel bearings and hub assembly out of the water.
- With the X-Tracker series, SKF has really focused on improving brake wear and tackling noise and vibration. As a result, you should experience a more silent ride and better braking/overall handling. SKF put it as “enabling the truck to handle more like a car.” Sounds good, and what’s even better is that they actually achieve it.
- Last but not least, this wheel bearing assembly has the highest load capacity among our contenders. Ultra-tough, ultra heavy-duty, making your ride more than a joy.
There’s one main downside, though. The price, of course. You pay for premium, high-quality product, and SKF is not an exception. SKF towers over Moog and Timken in regard to pricing. However, if you have the budget for that, I’d say it’s perfectly worth it.
The warranty depends on the reseller, but as far as I know, generally, we’re talking about a 1-year limited warranty. Certainly not as good as Moog’s 3-year warranty, but better than Timken’s warranty policies.
- Ultra heavy duty.
- Made for heavy loads, specializes in reducing noise and vibrations.
- Tough carbon steel manufacture with reinforced coating and heat resistance built-in.
A few decades ago, you would see companies manufacture their products in the US. You could be sure that local production meant fewer logistics and better customer service. Nowadays, things have changed, but there are still some misconceptions.
Manufacture it’s not about the country – it’s about the factory. You can have high-quality factories even in China. Obviously, they’ll be at a higher operating cost for the manufacturer. Current logistics have also introduced dispersed supply chain strategies across dozens of countries. So, if you ask me where these brands produce their wheel bearings, all I can say is: It depends, and often you can’t know until you get the product.
SKF has over 100 factories across the world. Moog and Timken are present in more than 20 countries. Your wheel bearings and hub assembly can arrive from China, Mexico, Spain, Taiwan, South Korea, or even the US. But you have no 100% guaranteed way to know the exact country of origin for your set.
Honestly, it’s not as bad as it sounds. These three brands have tight quality controls and manufacturing policies set in motion. No matter the country, no matter the factory – production adheres to the company code. It’s similar to other automotive parts manufacturers like KYB or Bilstein etc.
Hope that helped a bit. I see a lot of doom and gloom over manufacturing practices that make sense but are often unfounded criticism.
Which Brand Will You Choose?
Let’s summarize all the information you just read.
- Timken is the best in terms of price/quality ratio with products like their SP500300 assembly. Reliable tapered construction, easy installation, and an attractive price.
- Moog offers the best warranty and a sturdy design. You get a 3-year warranty with their products which is well over any other brand. Their classic manufacture involves sturdy bearings with slightly better coating.
- SKF bearings are the premium solution. For the higher price tag of the X-Tracker series, you receive reinforced construction for extended longevity.
Note: Always check your car model compatibility! I’ll mainly focus on wheel/axle bearings and hubs for Chevy, Dodge Ram and Jeep in this article.
Note 2: Amazon stocks up on Timken and Moog well enough. SKF bearings are also decent, you can also check the SKF stock at AdvanceAutoParts as an alternative.
That was everything from me on the topic of Moog vs Timken vs SFX wheel bearings and hub assemblies. Now it’s up to you to choose the design you prefer and a model that fits your ideal price range.
What are your own experiences? Do you prefer one brand over the other? Let me know in the comments below – who do you think wins this battle of the brands?