When a bearing moves circumferentially between the bearing ring and the bearing seat it is said to ‘creep’. Bearing creep can occur at the shaft or the housing and the result of excessive creep can include overheating and erosion of smooth bearing surfaces.
Bearings are made to exacting tolerances and they should always be fitted to a shaft and a housing taking these tolerances into consideration. When a bearing is not the right size for the application in which it is used it’s inevitable that creep will occur. To stop bearing creep the shaft and the housing to which the bearing is fitted must be thus machined extremely accurately.
If the ring and the seat are to rotate without creep, the bearing should usually have an interference fit or a press fit. A circlip or other type of clamp is also a good idea as this can stop lateral movement.
Even if a bearing is fitted using a press fit, creep can occur if the applied load is not in a direct rotating nature. This will cause the bearing to be either pulled or pushed on the shaft which can cause wear and hence cause creep to occur.