Tapered roller bearings feature tapered inner and outer ring raceways with tapered rollers arranged between them, angled so the surface of the rollers converge at the axis of the bearing. These bearings are unique in that, unlike most bearings that can handle either axial or radial loads, they can handle large amounts of load in both directions.
A single row taper bearing is limited in that it can only take high axial loads from one direction, but if adjusted against a second tapered roller bearing, that axial load is counteracted. This allows the bearings to accept high radial and axial loads from multiple directions. It is because of this ability that pairs of tapered roller bearings are used in car and vehicle wheel bearings where they must handle large radial and axial forces simultaneously.
Tapered roller bearings can usually be broken down into separate parts. The inner ring with a roller and cage assembly can be removed and mounted separately from the outer ring.
The ability of a tapered roller bearing to accommodate angular misalignment of the inner ring in relation to the outer ring is limited to a few minutes of arc. As with other roller bearings, tapered roller bearings must be given a minimum load, especially in high speed applications where the inertial forces and friction can have a damaging effect between the rollers and raceway.