How Long Can I Drive a Car on a Bad wheel bearing?

Bad car wheel bearing

How long can you drive on a bad wheel bearing?

A car can be driven for an hour or two with a bad wheel bearing depending on the road and the degree of damage in the bearings. You must drive slowly until you reach a garage or a car station to rectify the damage. The speed of your car should not cross 40 mph.

It’s highly recommended to have the damaged wheel bearings replaced promptly as soon as they are noticed. However, if a mechanic is out of reach or if you are in the middle of the road or a remote place, the slow driving method will be helpful.


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

If you choose to continue to drive a car with bad wheel bearings, it can be potentially dangerous. In certain cases, bad car wheel bearings can lead to difficulty in handling the car, issues with the car brakes, collapsing car wheels or a loud sound from the wheel.

  • Difficulty in handling the car
  • Issues with car brakes
  • Collapsing car wheels
  • Loud noises the wheels


Difficulty in handling the car

A bad wheel bearing can make it difficult for you to control your car. This is because a bad bearing may cause the wheel and tire connection to detach from the vehicle, which is tremendously dangerous. It may be even riskier if your car is being driven at a high speed.


Issues with car brakes

A faulty wheel bearing can be a reason to cause problems with your car brakes. The brake axle may begin to wobble due to displacement of the bearing, which can result in less braking performance. As a car owner, you must be aware that any issues with the braking system can create very risky situations.


Collapsing car wheels

A drastic outcome of a bad wheel bearing is the car wheels coming off completely. The main function of a wheel bearing is to connect the wheel and tire and help them rotate smoothly in synchrony. The core of the bearing acts as a mounting end for the tire and the wheel. As a result of the tire falling off, you may lose overall control of the car.


Loud sound from the wheel

Most commonly, the faulty wheel or the tire will start making an unpleasant noise at a high speed. This happens because of the friction caused between the metal, the tire and the road.


How long will a worn wheel bearing last?

A worn wheel bearing may last up to a distance of 1,000 miles or lesser. The speed of your car should be between 20 to 40 mph.

The best option is to look for a mechanic as soon as possible as the exact degree of damage in the bearings may not be known to you.

If your wheel starts making loud noises, then you may not be able to drive for a long time and will have to further reduce the speed.


What does a bad wheel bearing sound like?

A bad wheel bearing sounds like a chirping and screeching noise. Sometimes, the noise may also sound like a rumble while turning. You can confirm that the noise is coming from the wheel or the tire if its intensity changes with the speed of the car. The noises can get increasingly unpleasant with every turn that the car takes or may disappear temporarily.


How much does a wheel bearing cost to get fixed?

Generally, the cost of replacing a wheel bearing ranges from USD 100 to USD 700, with the average cost being USD 300. Factors such as the brand, make, model and year of manufacturing of the car also are taken into consideration for the cost of replacement.

Another variable factor is the expertise of the car mechanic or professional working on your vehicle. The higher the work quality, the higher would be the labor cost.


Can your tire fall off from a bad wheel bearing?

A car tire and the entire wheel can fall off from a bad wheel bearing in extreme conditions. The initial effect on the tire is likely to be the tire rubbing with strong friction on the wheel and may eventually be wearing out.

This sign is a key indication that the wheel bearing has to be replaced. However, if it is ignored and you continue to drive the car at a high speed, then the detachment of the tire is a definite possibility.


How do you check for bad wheel bearings?

Despite different kinds of bearings on vehicles, a wheel bearing that has gone bad features specific warning signs. A few things to check are given below.

  • Watch out for a peculiar grinding noise coming from the wheel or tire. If the noise increases in proportion to the acceleration of your car, then it’s likely that the wheel bearings have gone bad.


  • Pay attention to the steering of your car. If it feels less responsive than normal, then there could be an issue with the wheel bearing. This indication may not be limited to wheel bearings but has often proven to be a warning sign. Most of the time, wheel bearings that are worn out can loosen the wheel fabrication.


  • Look out for a slight deviation. If your car deviates from the direction you want it to go, then the wheel bearing could be faulty.


  • Inspect your tires regularly to avoid a mishap due to a faulty wheel bearing. To prevent the wheels from wearing out, you must rotate them regularly and if you find unevenness then you can have them checked by a professional.


Can you replace just one wheel bearing?

You can replace one wheel bearing if that is the only one gone bad. The other bearings don’t need replacement if they are functioning properly. In most cases, a car needs at least one of the bearings to be replaced every 150,000 miles.

To aid in maintaining the wheels for a long time, you must drive the car cautiously around potholes and lower the car speed while driving over speed breakers.


Can bad wheel bearing affect transmission?

Yes, a bad wheel bearing can affect transmission if it’s left unattended without replacement and the car is driven further. The car produces a certain amount of vibration due to a faulty wheel bearing.

Any kind of vibration transferred through the driveline will affect other parts of the vehicle over time including the transmission. This is mostly applicable to the front wheels of the car as the vibration is transferred directly from the axle to the transmission.


Can a bad wheel bearing affect acceleration?

A bad wheel bearing may affect acceleration as increased speed can lead to vibration and eventually result in the car wobbling on the road. It’s best to drive the car with minimum acceleration as it will be unsteady at a high speed.


Bad wheel bearing symptoms

There are various symptoms associated with a bad wheel bearing such as a grinding noise during motion, humming and growling noises or wobbling of the wheels. Shuddering at a sustainable speed is another key symptom of a bad bearing.


  • Grinding noise during motion

A grinding noise is typically heard during turns or transfer of load. It usually happens when the structural integrity is lost and is mostly related to a faulty roller.


  • Humming and growling noises

This kind of sound or vibration occurs when you drive the car straight but escalates while turning the steering wheel slightly towards any side.


  • Wobbling of the wheel

The wobbling is normally linked to the loss of a brace or a bearing with a mechanical defect. It can also happen if nut fasteners are not accurately torqued.


  • Shuddering at a sustained speed

When a bearing has been damaged, the car will experience shuddering even if a uniform pace is maintained. The suspension may also have got damaged along with the tires, which can cause loss of balance in the car.


  • Quivering due to brake application

An extremely loose bearing can cause over-exhaustion, which may cause the brakes to quiver or pull. This commonly happens due to a deformed rotor caused by a lack of retraction of the caliper.


How to tell which wheel bearing is bad? Front or back?

If the steering wheel vibrates vigorously along with a grinding noise from the car, then it’s a sign that the front wheel bearings have gone bad.

On the other hand, if you feel vibrations from the back and the car is unsteady when you move it back and forth repeatedly, then the bearings on the rear of the car have most likely gone bad.

However, it’s best to take your car immediately to a technician to locate the actual faulty wheel bearing.


Why does my wheel bearing keep failing?

The primary reason why wheel bearings continue to keep failing is the bad quality of the bearings installed in the car, leading to poor functionality. The second reason is a bad road with multiple potholes and speed bumps.

While there is nothing you can do about bad roads, you can most definitely replace the existing wheel bearings with those of high quality.


How to replace a bad wheel bearing?

You can replace the wheel bearings yourself using some commonly available tools and with caution. Alternatively, you can seek the assistance of a car mechanic for the replacement.


By replacing a bad wheel bearing yourself, you can save a substantial amount of time and money.


Required tools:

  • Gloves
  • Hammer
  • Safety glasses
  • Torch
  • Chocks
  • Jack
  • Screwdriver
  • Socket and ratchet
  • Wiping cloth
  • Puller


Steps to replace a bad wheel bearing:

  1. Park your car on a flat surface

Park the car on an even surface to prevent it from moving while changing the bearings. This is also important to ensure your safety. You must also make sure that your car is on neutral gear with applied brakes.


  1. Fix the wheels using chocks for bearings that do not need replacement

Use strong chocks to hold the other wheels that do not need any modification in place. These chocks also help to ensure the additional stability of the car.


  1. Unfasten the lug nuts and elevate the wheel by using a jack

Raise the wheels from the ground for easy access to the internal elements of the wheel. To avoid hazardous slippage, ensure that the car is safely placed on a jack before lifting the wheel. Most cars have jack points where the stand has additional support to elevate the car. You may also refer to the manual to understand the best position. A safety jack stand can be used additionally for more support in case the floor jack breaks down.


  1. Pull out the wheel and brake caliper

Unscrew the lug nuts and pull out the wheel effortlessly. After this, use a ratchet and screwdriver to pull out the brake caliper.


  1. Extract the dust cover and the rotor

Remove the dust cover by using a hammer and calipers.  The dust cover is a metal piece that holding the rotor in place. After this, pull out the outer bearing by first pushing it outwards with your palm followed by the rotor.


  1. Dismantle the hub

Dismantle the hub to reach the bearing by first unbolting its screws. The end of the hub should be removed using a wrench while the central bolt holding it must be extracted using a puller.


  1. Detach the races and install new ones along with wheel bearings

Detach the interior bearing races using a hammer and fix new ones in the assembly by hammering them inside. Once this is done, grease and position a new interior bearing in the assembly. Make sure that the bearings are aligned accurately.


  1. Put back all parts in reverse sequence

Reassemble your car’s wheel. This involves the installation of a new exterior bearing after the rotor is in position. When the entire procedure is complete, debase the car back to the flat surface cautiously with the jack.


How to remove wheel bearing without a press?

It’s possible to remove the wheel bearing without a press. However, a set of pullers or a press makes the work much more convenient. A press is easily available in the market and is also inexpensive.

You need to follow the below procedure to get the work done:

Tools required:

  1. Hammer
  2. Punch
  3. Gloves
  4. Safety glasses
  5. Torch
  6. Piece of shred wood


Steps to remove:

  1. Extract the wheel from the hub of the car.
  2. Pull out the seals and bearings with simple tools.
  3. Extract the interior bearing races by applying heat to the hub using a torch until the bearing grease starts to melt and drop out. After this, hammer the races pushing them out using the punch and shred wood.
  4. The grooves must be pulled out by hammering both sides until they fall out.
  5. Switch sides and repeat the same process for the other race if you have two races in your vehicle.
  6. Wipe and clean the hub carefully. Take care not to burn yourself as it’s likely to be hot. Ensure that all the grime and dirt are taken off or else they will latch on to the new set of bearings.
  7. Check the hub after cleaning for any ruptures or cracks.

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