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A thrust bearing is a particular type of bearing. Most commonly used in automotive applications, the characteristic that makes it distinct is that it can cope with axial thrust - along the axis of the shaft that it supports. This is necessary because for smoothness and quietness, helical gears (vs. straight gears) are used for the forward gears in modern car gearboxes. Helical gears cause axial forces that need to be dealt with.

Thrust bearings come in several varieties. Ball thrust bearings, composed of ball bearings supported in a ring, can be used in low thrust applications, where there is little radial load. Roller thrust bearings consist of small rollers arranged so that their axes are all on radial lines from the centre of the bearing. They can support larger thrust loads than the ball type, but still little in terms of radial load. Tapered roller bearings are the type most commonly used in automotive applications, where they are used in pairs to accommodate axial thrust in either direction, and also radial loads.

One specific thrust bearing in an automobile is the clutch 'throw out' bearing.