With considering the contact angle variations, the nonlinear systems of equations are utilized to obtain load distributions of automotive wheel bearings with axial preloading under radial and lateral tire loads and analyze the effects of axial preloading and wheel offset on the performances of the bearings. The results show that the axial preloading has much more significant influences on the load distributions, the displacements, the system fatigue life and the moment rigidity than the wheel offset. The relative inclination angle is linearly proportional to the axial preloading. The moment rigidity and the system fatigue life are opposite to an amount of axial clearance. In order to improve the rigidity of the automotive wheel bearings and get longer service life synchronously, the bearings should be kept working at a negative axial clearance.

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