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Trouble-shooting bearing problems

The bearing normally can be used up to the end of the rolling fatigue life if handled properly. If it fails earlier, it may caused by improper mounting, mishandling, poor lubrication, entry of foreign matter or abnormal heat generation. Considering possible causes of bearing failure and damages according to the condition of the machine on which the bearings failed and taking countermeasures is very important to prevent the recurrence of similar problems.

Following types of damage typically encountered are presented in the table below.

Illustration of damage
Possible Causes Solutions
Flaking ● Over and excessive load
● Improper handling and
● Poor shaft or housing
   accuracy etc.
● Unsuitable bearing clearance
● Installation error etc.
● Find out the cause of
   the heavy load
● Examine operating
● Improve the mounting
● Check the precision of
   shaft and housing
● Check the bearing
   internal clearance
Speckles ● Ingress of foreign particles ● Improvement in sealing
● Improvement of the
   operating environment
   if possible
● Filtration of the oil or
Cracking ● Excessive load
● Excessive impacts
● Rapid cooling
● Excessive interference
● Overheating by creeping
● Very loose fit
● Large flaking etc.
● Find out the cause of
   very large load
● Improve the installation
● Correct the interference
● Prevent the creep
Rust and
● Ingress of water or corrosive
   material (such as acid)
● Condensation of moisture
   contained in the air
● Poor packaging and storing
● Handling with bare hands etc.
● Do not use bad quality
● Dry the varnish properly
    with sufficient time
● Improvement in sealing
● Careful handling of
● Inclination of inner and outer
   rings during mounting or
● Shock load during mounting or
● Use appropriate jig and
● Avoid a shock load by
   use of a press machine
● Center the relative
   mating parts during
● Electrical potential difference
   between inner and outer rings
● Electrical potential difference
   of a high frequency that is
   generated by instruments or
   substrates when used near a
● Design electric circuits
   which prevent current
   flow through the bearings
● Insulation of the bearing
Seizure ● The grease’s maximum working
   temperature is lower than
   the actual temperature and
   the grease get failure.
● Excessive rotational speed
● Dissipation of heat generated
   by bearing is not enough.
● Clearance too small.
● Excessive load (or preload)
● Installation error etc.
● Selection of suitable
    lubricant grease
● Improve dissipation of
    heat from the bearing
● Improvement in clearance
    and preload
● Improvement in operating
Fracture ● Impact during mounting
● Excessive load
● Poor handling such as dropping
● Improve the mounting
   method (shrink fit, use
   proper tools)
● Reconsider the load
● Provide enough back-
   up and support for the
   bearing rib.
Fretting ● Poor lubrication
● Vibration with a small amplitude
● Insufficient interference
● Use a proper lubricant
● Apply a preload
● Check the interference
● Apply a film of lubricant
   to the fitting surface
Cage Damage ● Poor mounting (Bearing
● Large moment load
● Shock and large vibration
● Excessive rotation speed,
   sudden acceleration and
● Poor lubrication
● Temperature rise
● Check the mounting
● Check the temperature,
   rotation, and load
● Reduce the vibration
● Select a cage type
● Select a lubrication
   method and lubricant

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