Automobile deep groove ball bearings experience severe contact stresses during vehicle maneuvering near the contact with inner and outer races. The accurate prediction of the contact stresses and life estimation of ball bearings has always been challenging, following the complex nature of the contact involved and the resulting rolling contact fatigue (RCF). The present paper performs the finite element (FE) analysis by using a general FE code, abaqus to accurately predict the contact stresses, bearing loads and bearing life in form of ISO 281 (1990) life of an automobile wheel hub ball bearings. Lundberg and Palmgren method is employed for the determination of the bearing life. RomaxDESIGNER, a bearing design software, is also applied to consider the effects of various bearing life adjustment factors, which are used to determine the DIN ISO 281 life. Large amount of bearing failure field data is used to validate the predictions from the study, achieving a very good correlation. Theoretical contact stress calculations based on the Hertz contact theory are also presented for each load case. Finally, an attempt has been made to develop a relation between the contact stress and the bearing life for the hub assembly ball bearings.

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