How Long Can You Drive On A Bad Wheel Bearing?

How Long Can You Drive a Car With a Bad Wheel Bearing?

Try not to exceed 500 miles or 800 kilometers when you get the first sign of a bad wheel bearing, even if has that estimated lifespan, especially if you do not know what you bearing you have there. A failing wheel bearing will cause the vehicle to lose control, making it difficult to drive.

However, if you have a high-quality wheel bearing, you can drive with it for another 1000 miles or 1600 kilometers on an estimate, although it’s not safe to rely on these stats since there are so many factors that can influence this distance.

Do not wait for your car to stall before going for a replacement, a completely failed wheel bearing can cause the wheel to detach from the car and this can mean serious consequences.

Useful Tips for Dealing With Bad Wheel Bearings

Even if you already had the misfortune of having to deal with a bad wheel bearing in the past, you must not underestimate your situation. It might seem manageable at first, but it can lead to a terrible accident, not to mention cause damage to your car. Even though the price may seem steep for such a small piece, the labor put into replacing a wheel bearing is not insignificant.

As far as reparation is concerned, you have an alternative solution. If your wheel hub is also near its due, you may be better off with replacing the entire system, depending on your car. The labor would cost much less than only replacing the bearing itself.

Additionally, if you need some other work around the wheels done, now’s the time. Brakes, wheels, tires, suspension — the mechanic will have access to all of them while replacing your wheel bearing. Therefore, you can save up on labor cost.

If you’ve already jacked your car up on the side of the road thinking that it was a tire problem, you can easily verify if it’s a problem with the bearing instead. Simply spin the wheel freely and look for a rattling noise. The noise will confirm that it’s a bad wheel bearing.


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.

Related Questions

Can A Bad Wheel Bearing Make My Tire Fall Off?

No, it doesn’t. While failing wheel bearings affect the tires and cause the car to lose control, it doesn’t cause the wheel to fall off.

The wheel is retained on the axle, and the bearing has nothing to do with it.

How Expensive Is It To Replace A Wheel Bearing?

The front wheel bearing should cost you anywhere from $260-$480, in which the parts cost you approximately $120-$200 while the labor is the rest.

When it comes to rear wheel bearings, they are more expensive, costing you $400-$800 since you have to replace the entire hub assembly.

How Do I Know When My Wheel Bearing Is Bad?

The noisy wheel bearing is probably the first sign when it is failing. The rest, like uneven tires and rough rides, come later on. Here are a few indicators for a failing wheel bearing.

  • Grinding noise
  • Clinking, snapping, and popping sounds
  • Vibration felt in steering wheels
  • Car pulls to one side
  • Wobbly wheels

Rough Estimate of Wheel Bearing Lifespan

It is close to impossible to predict the exact lifespan of wheel bearing because there are many factors that need to be considered. However, with all the information on the internet and my experience, I came up with a rough estimate of the wheel bearing lifespan. Here is a table with a rough estimate of wheel bearing lifespan:

 Wheel Bearing ManufacturerRough Estimate of Wheel Bearing LifespanPrice on

Cheap Wheel BearingCheap Wheel Bearing6 – 12 MonthsCheck Price
MOOG/SKFMOOG/SKF12 – 36 MonthsCheck Price
TIMKENTIMKEN36+ MonthsCheck Price
OEMOEM36+ MonthsCheck Price

You should always use high-quality parts which are usually the most expensive ones on the market. The factory wheel bearings are always going to be the best choice, but aftermarket brands like Timken or Moog would do too.

The cheapest wheel bearings that you can find would roughly last six to twelve months. If you want to do it twice, go ahead and use those. I would highly recommend not going for the cheapest parts. If you are keeping the vehicle, you should definitely go for the high-quality parts.

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.

Testing the wheel bearing while driving

For more accurate results, the wheel bearing can be tested in motion. The method is as follows:

  • Get the car on a road that is better to be asphalted and without potholes or imperfections
  • Accelerate to 60 km/h or 40 miles per hour, and then try to take a turn
  • Observe the car’s behavior. When entering different turns, the car body begins to roll to one side. So, when turning to the left, the car leans to the right side, and the main weight falls on the right wheel. The weight is removed from the left wheel.
  • Listen for extraneous sounds. For example, when turning to the right, the left wheel bearing will have an additional load, and you will hear a hum. Also, when driving in a straight line, the sound disappears. Using the same principle, check the bearing on the right reducing the speed to 15 km / h and making a sharp turn to the left.

Pay attention to the sounds. If there were noises but disappeared when exiting the turn, then the problem is in the wheel bearing.

What Causes The Wheel Bearing To Fail?

The other day a friend of mine who also had the same issue posed the question: what causes wheel bearings to go bad?

It never goes out on its own, even with old age; it is a mixture of a few issues which ultimately culminate in the wheel bearing going bad.

1. Water Damage

It is an understatement when I say wheel bearings do not like water.

They come lubricated with a petroleum-based lubricant, which doesn’t take well to water. If you drive on a flooded street, they do not have any seals that prevent water from entering the system.

When water damage happens, the lubrication may not exist anymore to protect the bearing. In this case, it is better to get your wheel bearings changed to avoid further repair.

2. Bad Driving Conditions

When on the road, your wheel bearings are always under excessive pressure.

It is even worse if the road is uneven and filled with potholes. This terrain can damage the wheel bearings and cause it to fail eventually.

The bearings can develop dents and cracks, which subsequently cause them even to break. When this happens, they lose the ability to reduce friction, causing undue damage to the wheel.

3. Accident

Accidents happen, and sometimes you cannot avoid them. But what you can do about it is evaluate your vehicle and check if everything is in the right working order, especially the wheels.

This is because if your wheels were even dented to the slightest degree, it might impact the wheel bearings, causing them to make those noises.

Any mechanic worth his/her salt should know this and replace your wheel bearings even before making those noises.

4. Poor Installation

If your new wheel bearing is making noises, you might want to consider the fact that they have not been installed correctly.

It can be the mechanic’s fault, or it can also be due to him installing the wrong bearings. Whatever it is, do not delay; take it back and get it fixed.

If you wait, you might have to bear the cost of the next set of bearings too.

5. Unbalanced Tires

A regular maintenance routine is crucial for any car. And balancing the tires should be a part of it.

When they are not balanced, it can cause a few wheel bearing to take more pressure and stress than the others.

Not only do they wear out faster, but they also affect the tires. Always make sure that your wheels are balanced as part of your service.

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