Preventative Maintenance: Bearing Failures and Strategies for Effective Maintenance and Greasing


Most industry experts agree that 8 out of 10 bearing failures are not the result of bearing faults. They’re caused by poor lubrication management and contamination issues. An effective, regular maintenance routine using carefully selected high-quality grease is the solution to reduce bearing failure, increase bearing life, and minimize costly downtime.

Electric Motor Bearings

Unlubricated bearings will commonly overheat as a result of friction, wear excessively, and corrode. At worst, machinery could seize, or bearings could fail prematurely, with all the associated effects and costs of downtime, lost production, and bearing and shaft replacement.

The power behind the oil – So how does a bearing grease help, and which one should you choose for your lubrication regime?

“Oil flows, grease clings”

Strictly speaking, it’s not the grease which does the important job of keeping bearings lubricated. It’s the oil within the grease. But that oil is a more effective lubricant because of the way grease helps it to work.

“Right grease, right place, right time”

While oil flows, grease clings. So, when it’s placed on a bearing it stays in place for longer, allowing the oil it contains to lubricate for longer in the right place. Grease is also easier to apply than oil, and as well as being a lubricant ‘carrier’, it can act as a seal protecting the bearing against ingress of contaminants. Putting all these properties together means the right grease in the right place at the right time can help to increase bearing life, prevent premature bearing failure, extend relubrication intervals, and reduce downtime. Which means less lubricant is required, maintenance costs are reduced, costly unplanned downtime is avoided, and productivity is increased.

How to choose your grease

Choosing the correct grease for your application and operating conditions will make all the difference to bearing wear, operation, and bearing life.

The first consideration is the operating conditions. Is the bearing operating in a food/clean environment, under extremes of temperature or condition, at high speed (faster than 3,000rpm) in wet or humid conditions, or under high load?

Next, what type of bearing is being lubricated? There are basically two categories: plain (such as phosphor bronze bushes) or ball, roller, needle, and so on.

Lastly, what is the bearing operating temperature range: low, medium, or high? The parameters will vary depending on whether the bearing is operating in a normal, food, or wet environment.


Proper bearing maintenance and greasing are crucial for preventing bearing failures and maximizing bearing life. By choosing the right grease for your specific operating conditions and regularly maintaining the bearings, you can minimize downtime, reduce maintenance costs, and increase productivity. Remember, it's not the bearings that are wrong, but how they are maintained.

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