How Long Can You Drive on a Bad Wheel Bearing

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Last Updated on January 27, 2023 by Victor Lukasso

A wheel bearing is a crucial component of a vehicle’s suspension system, as it allows the wheel to rotate smoothly while supporting the weight of the vehicle.

When a wheel bearing becomes damaged or worn out, it can cause problems with the vehicle’s handling and braking performance, and can even lead to a complete bearing failure.

So, how long can you drive on a bad wheel bearing? The answer is between 500 miles to 1,000 Miles depending on the severity of the damage and how quickly you address the problem.

Depending on the severity of the damage, you may be able to drive for a shorter or longer period before the bad bearing fails completely and this usually leads to a potentially dangerous situation.

Just for clarification, a faulty wheel bearing is often accompanied by shaky wheels, vibrating steering wheels, and a grinding or humming sound from the car.

In this article, we’ll discuss the symptoms associated with a bad bearing and how long you should drive on a bad wheel bearing.

Symptoms of a Bad Wheel Bearing

Wheel bearings are closely packed steel balls held together in a metal ring and they spin very fast as though there’s little or no friction attached.

They are located at the hub of the car wheel and attached to the axles and they help provide support to the vehicle, however, just like other car components; they are prone to going bad.

Since car faults are closely interrelated, highlighted below are some visible signs to watch out for before concluding that the fault is from your bearing.

  1. Grinding Noise
  2. Car Vibration
  3. Loose Steering Wheel
  4. Uneven tire wear
  5. Damage to other components
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1. Grinding Noise

When driving at high speed or making turns, you might hear loud grinding or growling sound which is often a result of a bad wheel bearing.

2. Car Vibration

A shaky car can also be noticed when driving at extremely high speed, this is often accompanied by a loud grinding noise and all this is a result of a faulty wheel bearing.

3. A Loose Steering Wheel

One major function of the wheel bearing is to provide support to the vehicle, once the steel balls start wearing out you’ll notice a loose Steering wheel thereby making the vehicle uncontrollable.

4. Uneven tire wear

The inability of the wheel bearing to act as a support system will eventually start telling on the tires because all the force of the car will be exerted on it.

You’ll often notice this during the earlier stages. If you check the thread of your tires and find uneven wear out then you should inspect your wheel bearing.

5. Damage to other components

Components such as the spindle, hub, and knuckle in the suspension system might become damaged as a result of driving with a bad wheel bearing.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to have the bearing checked out by a mechanic as soon as possible. Driving on a damaged wheel bearing for too long can lead to further damage to the bearing and other components of the suspension system, which can be costly to repair.

Causes of Wheel Bearing Failure

It’s important to understand that the lifespan of a wheel bearing can vary based on a number of factors, including the type of vehicle, the load it is carrying, and the driving conditions it is subjected to.

In general, however, wheel bearings are designed to last for a long time, with some manufacturers claiming lifespans of up to 100,000 miles or more.

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Other factors that can result in a wheel bearing going bad include;

  • Wear out
  • Damage due to Misalignment
  • Water Damage
  • Bent Axles

It’s not uncommon for wheel bearings to need replacement at some point during the life of the vehicle.

If you notice any of the signs of a damaged wheel bearing, it’s important to have it checked out by a mechanic as soon as possible, even if you are not experiencing any issues with your vehicle’s performance.

How to Replace Wheel Bearing

It’s important that you give this job to a professional mechanic to prevent Misalignment or bent Axles after implementing repairs.

Also, the process is quite tedious and requires you to have specialized tools.

Here’s an overview of how to replace a wheel bearing in minutes.

  1. Firstly, remove the wheel and the brake caliper
  2. Disassemble the hub assembly to access the wheel bearing.
  3. The bad wheel bearing will then be removed and replaced with a functional one.
  4. Lastly, the hub assembly will be reassembled and the wheel and brake caliper will be reinstalled.

However, this job also requires some level of experience to tell which bearing is bad.

How Much to Replace Wheel Bearing

It’s also important to note that replacing a wheel bearing can be a costly repair, especially if multiple bearings need to be replaced.

The average price to replace a bad wheel bearing is $400 per wheel with each bearing costing between $20 – $25 depending on your car model.

How to Prevent Wheel Bearing Failure

While it’s impossible to shy away from replacing a bad bearing during the course of using a vehicle, these are some driving etiquette you can employ to improve the lifespan.

Some of them include:

  1. Keeping your car clean from dirt and debris that might get clogged in the bearing to aid wear out.
  2. Avoid potholes while driving especially at high speed to prevent misalignment and shifted axles.
  3. Do well to visually inspect the wheel bearing regularly and make sure it’s in perfect condition.

That’s all.

FAQs

What happens if you keep driving on a bad wheel bearing?

What is bound to happen if you keep driving on a bad wheel bearing is uneven tire wear, damaged suspension components (hub, CV Joint, spindle, etc.), and even loss of control.

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How long will a wheel bearing last once it starts making noise?

So, how long will a wheel bearing last once it starts making noise? The answer is between 500 miles to 1,000 Miles depending on the severity of the damage and how quickly you handle the problem.

How long can you go without replacing a wheel bearing?

There is no specific time frame for when a wheel bearing needs to be replaced. The lifespan of a wheel bearing depends on several factors, including the type of bearing, the quality of the bearing, and the driving conditions in which the vehicle is used.

In general, a wheel bearing that is properly lubricated and maintained can last for a long time. However, if the bearing is subjected to high loads or frequent starts and stops, it may wear out more quickly. A bearing that is exposed to water or other contaminants may also fail prematurely.

What happens if a wheel bearing isn’t replaced?

What is bound to happen if you keep driving on a bad wheel bearing is uneven tire wear, damaged suspension components (hub, CV Joint, spindle, etc.), loud noise, car vibrations, and even loss of steering wheel control.

Conclusion

It’s not safe to drive on a damaged wheel bearing for an extended period of time. If you notice any signs of a bad wheel bearing, it’s important to have it checked out by a mechanic as soon as possible to avoid any potential safety issues.

While it’s not always possible to predict exactly how long a wheel bearing will last, it’s generally best to have it inspected if you notice any issues, as this can help prevent further damage and ensure the safety and reliability of your vehicle.

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